Modern Family tackles that most relevant of themes in their latest episode – Mother’s Day.
Wisely, the story pairs up Phil and Jay, cooking a meal for the womenfolk while Gloria and Claire take the kids on a hike. I say take…really it was more like dragging them on a hike. Where I come from, Mother’s Day involves taking the kids away from the mothers to give them a well-earned break from their bickering offspring.
Cam and Mitchell are at loggerheads because Mitchell has assumed – once too often – that Cam is the ‘wife’ in their relationship. Certainly, he’s the one who stays at home with Lily and has the more flamboyant, homely character that’s clearly a hit with the ladies of the mother and toddler group.
So, episode setup aside, it must be said that the entire cast of Modern Family were on top form last night. Really. Not a weak b-plot in sight, and everybody got their moment of comedy gold. Let’s take a look at the highlights:
- Cameron’s rage: To quote Game Of Thrones, Mitch ‘woke the dragon’ when he implied Cam was the woman in their relationship. Rampaging Cam was brilliant, glowering in a group photo with the ‘moms’, yelling at the kid in the park who simply asked for his ball back, knocking an old guy off a bike with said ball and ripping up Manny’s Mother’s Day card for Gloria by mistake! Not to give Eric Stonestreet all the credit – Jesse Tyler Ferguson got his fair share of comedy in the scenes where he was ‘calling the wife’. Brilliant.
- Jay’s tears for his mother: When Phil discovers an old poem that Jay wrote for his mother as a child, he unwittingly breaks down all of Jay’s gruff exterior. Jay puts on the ridiculous anti-onion glasses to disguise his tears, but later on breaks down when he recalls a story from his childhood. This is so warm and touching at the same time, knowing that Jay’s probably always hid those feelings and this was the first time he’d really let them out.
- Phil’s abortive attempts to hug Jay: When Jay first cries, Phil wants to hug him but can’t quite make it work. The awkwardness is a wonderful contrast to the next time it happens and Cam rushes round and gives him a big, natural, heartfelt hug. And Phil just looks so bemused that Cam muscled in on that intimicy with Jay that he so clearly craves. (Also, it’s testament to how well-drawn these characters are that we can talk about their desires in this way)
- Claire’s wonderful, awful parenting skills: Claire Dunphy admits what few other parents would dare: that her kids make her so angry that she wants to slap them sometimes. I just love that she’s so human, and how she snatched the water bottle from Alex when she gave a cheeky retort. And how she got Gloria to finally admit her frustrations with Manny – excellent work from Sofia Vergara as Gloria got caught out and then blamed Claire for “wanting to hit her children”.
- The kids ganging up on Claire: At first, I couldn’t believe that any mother would want her children to feel guilty. To apologise for bad behaviour, yes. But to want them to feel guilty, no. Of course, when Haley, Alex and Luke conspired not to apologise, it seemed to hit the spot with Claire and she laid on the guilt trip a lot thicker!
It must be said, this was one of my favourite episodes of Modern Family this season. Perhaps in the whole run to date. The writing was solid, nothing in the plot felt contrived as it sometimes does, and the cast were brilliant. It was only at the dinner table when Mitch was sitting alone that I realised they didn’t even try to cram Shelley Long into this one, even though the theme would have created an opportunity to do so.
Awesome work, all. And huge props to the entire Modern Family gang. I’m looking forward to a third season for this wonderful comedy series.