Episode 8: Mistery Date
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
The episode begins with Claire taking Alex, Luke, and Manny to an academic competition. This creates three seperate plots. The first has to do with Alex. Claire is really proud of Alex's achievements. She likes to brag to anyone about how her daughter is a champion who likes to win things. It's during one of these brag sessions that Alex loses a game. Claire is so certain in her daugher that she doesn't even realize Alex got the answer wrong. Alex is angry that her mother had inadvertently cheered for her. The conflict of this plot is simple: Claire is too proud of her daughter. She's one of the mothers who likes to live through her Alex's achievements. The episode makes a point of this when accidentally proclaims that “we should be winning this” when Alex provides three correct answers to questions. Claire realizes that her daughter winning these academic competitions is something that she truly does enjoy. She loves being able to brag about Alex's intelligence. This leads her to believe that she is putting too much pressure on Alex to succeed. Alex agrees but she states that it's nothing like the pressure she puts on herself. Alex didn't lose because of Claire but she simply brought out her frustrations on her mom. This plot helped to explore the mother-daughter relationship but it never really worked well in terms of being funny.
The second plot that this creates is with Luke and Manny. The two are planning to hit the water park until a girl smiles at Manny. Manny drags Luke to try and find this girl. They know she's going to a Bar Mitzvah but the hotel has three of them. They spend the entire episode sneaking through the three of them before finding the girl. Right when Manny is about to go and speak to her, a guard tells them that they have one minute to leave. This woud indicate that the plot is over but Manny uses that one minute to get some pictures with the girl. It's the plot that works the best in being funny largely because Luke is such a great comic character. His insistence that sneaking into one party is no problem but seeing three as a challenge is great and his gradual discovery of Jew culture is a stroke of genius. Manny doesn't get as many good jokes largely because he's too busy driving the action to actually get any. While this plot was definably my favorite, it speaks a lot when it's very similar to something a Disney Channel sit-com plot.
The third plot it bequeaths is with Phil. Phil has the house all to himself. He wires the home to his iPad and he makes a new friend at the gym. He invites this friend to come over to his house and watch their college football game. The entire twist of the plot is that this friend is gay and he thinks that Phil asked him out. This seems like a genius idea on paper. The idea of Phil accidentally going out with a gay guy? I could see that being funny. Thr writers must have agreed with me because they made this plot but alas it turns out we were all wrong. It was funny at first but the plot quickly became a bit too much for it to truly work. It makes Phil a little obvlious and it simply makes too many contrived situation to make him appear like he's gay. The only reason the plot wasn't a complete bomb was because Cameron was inadvertently giving the friend some advice and how his predictions seemed like they were actually coming true.
While this is all happening, Cam and Mitchell have their own story. Cam is secretely commisioning a painting for Jay and Gloria's new nursery. This in itself creates two seperate plots. The first is with Cam and Gloria. He simply tries his best to keep her away from the nursery but she really wants to take a nap. This works well for some consistent laughs. The other plot was with Mitchell figuring out that there's something bothering his dad. He doesn't want to ask because he doesn't want to be ridiciuled. Mitchell hysterically made me laugh when he kept comparing himself to Charlie Brown and his father as Lucy with the sadness as the football. Just like Charlie Brown, Mitchell couldn't help but eventually ask his dad what was bothering him only to learn that Jay is just nervous about having a new baby. These two plots worked well.
It's just a pity that most of the episode simply didn't. The Phil story was a bust along with the Claire story. While the Mitchell story worked well along with the Cam story, it wasn't enough to elevate this episode. Mistery Date is an episode that is inconsistently funny and it suffers simply because there were too many plots going on at a time. There were five different plots going on in the space of twenty minutes. It's no wonder that the plots couldn't come together to create a nice and coherent episode. Mistery Date simply suffered from being overly stuffed.