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Modern Family: The Anniversary Party Disaster

by Angel Cohn November 14, 2013 11:40 am
<I>Modern Family</I>: The Anniversary Party Disaster

We thought that after a few weeks off, we'd be thrilled to see a new installment of Modern Family, but "A Fair to Remember" is an outing that we'd largely like to forget… though we'd be down with watching the Dad Beats (featuring special guest Harold the pharmacist) any time. The episode suffered from a lot of promising ideas (yes, really) that largely fell flat and would have been better off if the show didn't feel the need to give almost every character a subplot in every episode. It's an ensemble, but that doesn't mean that everyone needs equal screentime every single week.

Manny Business
A perfect example of what we're talking about is the subplot about Haley and New Manny by the pool. Why not save this whole awkward flirting set-up for another episode? Or given how much it made us cringe, just skip it entirely? We were tickled about seeing more Adam DeVine as Andy the manny, but seeing him talk about his made-up Coast Guard girlfriend in Utah while Haley stomped around in a bikini stealing beer was unfortunate, at best. And not to mention that his big problem with her was that she had glass by the pool or that Jay would be mad that there was missing beer… not that she is underage or anything like that. If he's trying to be a responsible manny, you'd think that would be his big issue. Plus, is Haley such a bitch that she'd purposefully break a bottle so he'd have to clean it up? Also, that's high quality alcohol (knowing Jay) so why waste it? And the resolution with her confessing to Gloria and Andy covering for her with Jay was utterly pointless.

Phil and Claire Outdoing Each Other
Instead of planning a normal gift, Phil and Claire both feel the need to celebrate their anniversary by making their significant other feel like crap about their gift-giving skills. Phil plans this elaborate singing performance at the fair with the Dad Beats, but he's forced to abandon it once he's shown up by the local pharmacist. And Claire is thrilled because her surprise of Chinese acrobats (since china is the traditional gift for 20 years) will "win." Can't they just spend a night getting couples massages or having a nice dinner and celebrating their love instead of trying to outdo each other the whole time? It also reminded us of the unfortunate lead-up to Cam and Mitchell's engagement a few weeks ago, where they competed for the perfect proposal, but at least that had a lovely payoff where both of their plans fell through; here it was a case of Claire "winning" and there wasn't even a nice romantic ending to it.

Obsessive Cam Is Freaking Annoying
We like that Cam gets into things, and we were hopeful to see a bit more of him in football coach mode, but the fact that it took over the whole fair experience was obnoxious. Seeing him pull his team away to lecture them while wielding a mallet was dumb, and having it lead up to the Manny being on the team as a blocker was so heavy-handed. The second that the football dad came over to talk about his son not being guarded, and we saw Jay worrying that Manny needed to fit in, we saw where this was going. We expect a little more cleverness with these intertwined storylines.

Gloria and the Cake-Smashing Incident
They need to figure out what they are doing with the Gloria/Manny relationship, because it has been off-kilter for a while. Half of the time she thinks he can do no wrong and the other half she's aggressively trying to force him to change. Smashing her son's cake so that he'd find a better hobby was just the most recent awkwardness. And knowing the whole thing was one big set-up to expose Manny's football potential made it even more irritating.

Officer Jay Pritchett
The best storyline of the night had to be Jay and Derrick (Jordan Peele). Their frenemy/buddy cop shtick was the one thing that really worked. Right down to the full on cop movie death scene parody complete with a "bloody" shirt. Here's hoping that Derrick and Jay will cross paths again… there have to be more parking spots to fight for.

The Jail Cell
Can we keep the jail cell on this show? They could throw people in there when they are behaving badly and need to think about their actions. It would get a lot of use.

Luke and the Real Girl
Here was the one subplot that we truly wished had been saved for a later date, because we really love the idea of Alex trying to convince a new girl that she's actually popular. We only got about half a second of that interaction before we had to cut away to see Gloria behaving badly or Haley in a bikini. And Luke crushing on a friend of Alex's also had some comic potential, especially with them both trying to win pretty Sienna's affections. And while we were hoping Luke would get his coveted first kiss, what happened to the cute girl who liked magic and Dirty Dancing from the premiere?

Mitchell and Lily Quietly Killing It
Proving that less is often more, Mitchell and Lily didn't have the most lines, or even their own subplot this week, but they totally came out on top of the episode. Seeing Lily just amass more and more carnival prizes for Mitch to carry around while they made cutting observations about Cam and his football meltdown was spot-on.

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