‘Modern Family’ Knows That Marriage Is Hard

Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, and Julie Bowen in this week's episode of ABC's "Modern Family."

The three couples of Modern Family schooled us in the art of marriage tonight. The humor was more quiet–the only line that was distinctly memorable was Jay telling Claire, “When you get a massage you sound like a Tijuana prostitute,” as they father-daughter bonded over ice cream at the mall. Still, what the episode lacked in one-liners it made up for with situational comedy.

It was really a perfect episode for Claire and Phil–not in terms of funny, but in terms of a true marriage dynamic. Fights in relationships often explode because of a building issue one person doesn’t realize is there. Neither Claire nor Phil was really irrational in this dispute–her pet peeve was understandable, as was his confusion. The whole situation unfolded in a completely natural way. Phil’s gesture to make up was touching and well placed in the episode, and Claire’s response that she was about to be on him wrapped things up nicely. From start to finish, it was a well-written and acted dispute.

Which makes me cry for Cameron and Mitchell. To be fair, this was a better episode for them. After their insanely predictable fight (when was the last episode they didn’t have a fight?), they had a cute little makeup scene scored by a harp group. But when you hold that up against Claire and Phil’s makeup, doesn’t it just seem like two gay friends hugging after an overly dramatic spat? These two just aren’t pulling their weight.

Jay and Gloria didn’t have a real problem (he bought her a karaoke machine and her use of it makes everyone wince) or a lot of screen time, but I loved watching Gloria belt out those songs like she has a burgeoning singing career ahead of her. Another well done to Sofia Vergara. Manny ended up doing Jay’s dirty work for him (“Coward!”) in telling Gloria to cut it out, but maybe that’s another lesson in marriage. Sometimes, it’s better if the hard truth comes from someone else.

Lastly, I’ll add that the kids got some good parts in this episode. Luke was hilarious as Cam’s assistant, and Haley triumphed over Alex’s plan to get her caught in her work scheme.

Now if we could just get Lily to do something interesting.

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4 thoughts on “‘Modern Family’ Knows That Marriage Is Hard

  1. I actually thought the conflict between Phil and Claire was contrived. We never had an indication that Phil acted like this all the time and that it annoyed Claire, but all of a sudden, it blew up and Claire went so far as to sleep on the couch, she was so upset. I agree that fights can develop based on one person’s not realizing the issue, but it is just such a played out device, and Modern Family didn’t put a new spin on it, that I wasn’t too impressed.

    I did like the different character combinations, though. Cam and Luke were a great match.

    • They definitely could have worked that into previous episodes, but it’s such a small pet peeve that it’s not hard to believe it has happened over the 20 years that they have known each other without Claire bringing it up or Phil realizing it happens. If it was a big thing, it would bother me more.

      Cam and Luke were great, I agree. It was nice to see Luke try out his humor with someone besides Phil.

  2. I would say the “Happy Valenbirthiversary” by Phil was a pretty great one liner. Also we learned Manny and Alex don’t have good chemistry. Manny is only good juxtaposed with Jay’s stern masculinity and Gloria’s Glorianess.

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