Modern Family – Chirp, episode review

Three Modern Family stories in one tonight with Chirp – named because Phil can’t seem to find the dying smoke alarm that’s been chirping in order to replace the battery.

The Dunphy household is in the grip of flu, with Claire and then Haley becoming bedridden. Claire sees this as an opportunity to talk to her daughter about dating people other than Dylan (since it’s come out that Dylan has been having sexy dreams about both Dunphy women. Together. With him.) However, the laws of comedy won’t allow this mother-daughter chat to go according to plan, and so Haley assumes that Claire is confessing that her marriage to Phil is on the rocks.

Phil’s having a terrible day as well – he takes over ‘mommy’ chores for the day and has to put his work on the back burner. Which isn’t difficult, because either he’s lost his house-selling mojo or business is just generally slow. Regardless, with the smoke detectors taunting him and him being emasculated by just about everyone he comes into contact with in this episode, Phil’s self-worth is hitting rock bottom. He ends the episode by taking his frustration out on the smoke alarms (with his cheer baton!), until Luke confesses he put the old smoke alarms in the attic when they were replaced a year ago. D’oh.

Also on the ‘hit’ list this week is Jay, recycling that old “husband forgets about anniversaries” cliche. Except to make it more interesting, it turns out that Gloria is typically over-exuberant about celebrating every little event of note in their courtship. Even the rows about forgetting anniversaries are celebrated for their passion!

To make matters worse for Jay, Manny isn’t speaking to him because he fired an employee who allowed him to drive a forklift by himself. Cute scene where Manny tries to hire Mitchell to represent him in an unfair dismissal suit! In the end, one of the most touching moments on the show so far – Jay unthinkingly calls Manny his kid, and Manny realizes how much Jay cares about him. He understands why Jay was so tough on the employee, and eventually helps Jay remember where he has to meet Gloria.

The weaker of the three plots this week was Cam and Mitch. I think in general their storylines are a tiny bit desperate and cliched. Typically Cams flamboyance gets the pair into a situation while Mitchell has a a stick up his ass about something. OK, so that’s how these two characters operate, but that’s why it’s nice to see them interacting with the wider family. (And I like how Cam and Gloria seem to have an unlikely bond – both the most over the top characters on the show)

This week, Cam signs Lily up for a commercial shoot, which Mitchell has a stick up his ass about. Ultimately Cam ignores Mitch’s decision about not doing the shoot, but Mitch tracks him down to the warehouse where it’s being filmed and points out that the commercial relies on Asian stereotypes. If I’m not mistaken, the punchline for the whole scenario is that Cam – outraged with the director – snatches the child up to take her home, only to discover that he lifted the wrong child. It would’ve been funny, but I saw it coming a mile off. 

The thing is, Cam and Mitch are great characters when they’re used properly. The problem is that their dynamic quickly becomes tiresome and there’s really more scope for them as individuals than as a couple. As a couple they tend to go round in circles getting into similar scrapes each week.

Modern Family Quotes:

  1. Cam: “I wouldn’t expect you to understand us. You’re not theater folk.” Mitchell: “Neither are you. You did Godspell one summer in a barn. You’re barn folk.”
  2. Haley: “It’s just a cold, silly. You don’t have to conceive of a world without me.”
  3. Phil: “You care about germs? I’ve seen you kiss a pigeon on the mouth.”
  4. Manny: “Then under the circumstances, we have nothing further to talk about. These will be my last words to you.” Jay: “Knock, knock..” Manny: “Who’s there? Okay, you got me.”
  5. Gloria: “So quiet. It’s like Christian silence reading room.”

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