Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Approaching how to tell a loved one that you’re not satisfied with their choices or actions can be tricky. That’s exactly the topic that this weeks Modern Family tackled. The Dunphy family accompanies Alex (Ariel Winter) on her tour of Cal Tech, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) attempt to take a proper family portrait with their adopted daughter Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), and Jay (Ed O’Neill) pours his heart into an anniversary gift for Gloria (Sofía Vergara).
Claire (Julie Bowen) has made it painfully clear that she wants Alex to pick a college near to home, which of course causes her to go gaga over Cal Tech. Unfortunately, Alex wants to experience life away from her family; as far away as Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend MIT. The show knows how to relate their episode material to every day life. When children leave home to take on the college world, parents always have that realization that life will forever be different. The nest no longer is needed.
The proposition of love steps in for Alex though in the form of Jason Darling (Caleb Hoffman) from Boston. He may have mild Asperger syndrome, but as Alex points out, she’s “had all kinds of guys hit on her” including one with Aspergers. She’s played that field and is completely comfortable. Alex as a character has had many great moments on the series, but this may be her best season yet. Viewers saw more of her inner struggles with perfection last season, and it seems this season the writing team is giving her the chance to tackle love.
Meanwhile, Phil (Ty Burrell), Luke (Nolan Gould), and Haley (Sarah Hyland) take part in an on campus scientific study. The giant “do not push” sign over the red button in the waiting room causes their imaginations to go wild. Luke of course wants to push it, which Phil is completely against. Channeling his inner medium, Luke points out that Phil is upset that Luke became just like him. Does this stop them from pushing the button? No. Haley does try to though as she breaks down to reveal her true feelings of failure and inadequacy. Phil steps up to bat and boosts her morale, so as a united front they all push the button. The air conditioning to the room kicks on and won’t shut off, hence the “do not push” sign.
Mitch and Cam love taking pictures together just as much as they love their daughter, Lily. Feeling left out, Lily demands they include her in a portrait. Being the loving fathers they are (and avid picture takers), they plan a family portrait with Lily and her beautiful smile front and center. “What’s this face…?” Cam points out to Mitchell. Lily has decided to try a new smile that seems to be a mixture between horror clown and constipated child. The writers for Modern Family love to twist the dynamics which can be risky, but in this case, it hits on all points.
Viewers know the struggles that Mitch and Cam have gone through as a homosexual couple struggling to navigate life that can be judgmental. They have always stood up for their rights and acceptance, but here they just can’t look past how awkward their daughter looks. The writing just brings a beautiful human feeling to every scenario. Cameron tries to explain that maybe that face is just too new to try, which tells Lily that she just isn’t pretty enough. Realizing that what really matters is their daughter’s self worth, they blow up that constipated clown with her two dads portrait to hang proudly on the mantle. This makes Lily so happy she giggles…like a hyena. Uh oh, not a new laugh too.
Meanwhile, Jay has secretly been taking pottery classes to create the perfect handmade gift for his beautiful wife Gloria. “Bunny” (the nickname Jay had for Gloria when they first started dating) is his inspiration that forms the clay bunny statue. But, is this too cheap of a gift? Jay confides in the young and wise Manny (Rico Rodriguez) to see if his bunny is just not up to par. However, when Gloria receives the bunny, she smashes it into pieces to find the real gift inside. Crushed like his little creation, Jay runs out to get the real bracelet Gloria wanted.
The dynamic that seems to revolve around Jay and Gloria is one of role switching. Jay is the tough, old school type of guy that doesn’t reveal much of his feelings, while Gloria is a colorful and opinionated person in touch with her feelings. Jay choosing to make a gift from the heart is a sign that as time has gone on, Gloria really has warmed him up to the idea that the heart is a powerful machine. A great lesson for all viewers to learn. In true Modern Family style however, the lesson is taught, but not without the acknowledgement that people will always be people. We end up getting to see Jay and Gloria give each other what they really want, and we love them for it.
Modern Family airs Wednesday’s at 9/8c on ABC.