If this was an episode of Friends, it would be “The One Where The Writers Acknowledge That The Gay Characters Don’t Kiss”. Those of you who’ve followed Modern Family obsessively will be aware of the campaign to have Cam and Mitch, the resident gay couple, actually kiss on-screen.
Rather brilliantly, the writers found a way to explain away all of the lack of physical affection…on Jay (Ed O’Neill). Yes, by focusing on his lack of kissing and hugging his children, the show exposed the fact that Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) didn’t like public displays of affection – which explains why he shies away when Cam (Eric Stonestreet) tries to kiss him. Nothing to do with the gay thing at all!
This neatly sidesteps the idea that two gay men kissing is social taboo and that might be the reason for Mitch’s embarrassment. It invariably feels like a bit of a cop-out to make it about public displays of affection. No, it was a missed opportunity to talk about how uncomfortable Mitch might have felt. If the episode had tackled Mitch’s reasons for being uncomfortable showing affection as a gay man, it might have helped to show him overcoming his hangups and by extension the viewing public.
But I’m acutely aware that by getting up on a soap box about the issue doesn’t work either. Who’s to say a gay man can’t just have a regular hang-up about public displays of affection? You’re messing with my mind, Modern Family!!!
Elsewhere, Claire (Julie Bowen) wants to perpetuate the notion that she was a squeaky clean teen, essentially so that her daughters don’t end up as sluts and they don’t have a poor image of their mother. This ties in with her sending Haley (Sarah Hyland) to talk to Alex (Ariel Winter) (worst possible combination). So…Haley gives her an ultimatum to kiss the boy or end up looking like a lesbian (with sandals like those…). And hilarity ensues when Alex turns up on the boy’s doorstep and asks for a kiss…in front of his entire football team.
Everything comes tidily to a head at a big family dinner in Jay’s house where Jay has been tortured all day by Gloria (Sofia Vergara) for making fun of Colombian traditions. So she invents a few traditions to make a fool of him. Chicken slapping indeed! Upstairs, Phil is doing his level best to impress Jay by fixing his printer and ends up rewiring his entire system.
Despite the criticisms over the gay kiss, another solid, hilarious episode of Modern Family. Best bits for me were the non-verbal stuff – Cam falling over a sofa when Mitch avoids his kiss, and the resulting awkwardness when Gloria forces Jay to kiss his son. That stand-off had me in stitches, despite being one of the oldest jokes in the book.
Sofia Viagra: I said it in my review of the season première, Sofia Vergara stirring things in the kitchen is a beautiful thing. Loved that Jay said exactly the same thing in tonight’s show.
Quotes from The Kiss
- Cam: “The house is on fire, I only have time to grab one shirt. Which one do I take?” Mitch: “The correct answer is ‘Take Lily.'”
- Cam: “Mitch has a problem with public displays of affection. I remember once at a New Year’s Eve party, stroke of midnight, he hi-fived me.”
- Jay: “This is awkward, because my dead uncle Joe told me to have steak tonight.”
- Claire: “Your kids don’t need to know who you were before you had them. They need to know who you wish you were and they need to try to live up to that person. They’re gonna fall short. But better they fall short of the fake you than the real you.”
- Phil: “Mr Hot-dog Fingers can’t press print without hitting three extra keys.”
- Alex: “11?” Haley: “Yeah, so you’d better get on it or he’s gonna think you’re a lesbian.” Alex: “He’s not gonna think I’m a lesbian.” Haley: “I thought you were. You totally have the sandals for it.”
- Jay: “Hey Phil, I’m gonna get a beer, beer, beer before I hit you on the head, head, head.”
- Gloria: “Jay, kiss your son, he’s a mess.”