Episode 10: Diamond in the Rough
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
In a rare week of Modern Family, there are only two major plots and a small tiny one. This show usually has a lot more that it's nice to see the series isn't trying to cram too much into a single episode. The tiny plot has to do with one of the main plots. It has to do with baseball. Luke's team has managed to make it into the finals when some of his team members went through puberty early. One of the players has to drop out of the game when their grandmother gets sick. This basically freaks out Manny since it means he'll actually have to play rather than warm the benches. The conflict is simple. He's not any good at sports and he flinches whenever a ball is pitched towards him. Luke's solution is simple: use Manny's body to have the ball hit him. This all goes according to plan when Manny gets hit at the end of the episode and wins the game. It wasn't a particularly close game (3-0) but he still gets to be the hero of the game. This is a tiny plot that is funny but it continues the trend of having Luke and Manny have their own mini-adventures. They're generally good in small doses as they could easily run dry if given significant screentime.
What's the main plot having to do with baseball? It's simple. Cam and Claire need to make a baseball field for some convoluted reason. They pick what appears to be a junkyard and immediately start using teamwork to fixing it up. It's during this project when they find a house that's on sell. They get the idea that they'll buy the house, renovate it, and then flip it. They believe they can easily do it and they're willing to risk their savings in order to try and make a profit. The two people who don't believe they can? Phil and Mitchell stand in they way. Only they can't be united in their division because Phil pretends that he's really on Cam and Claire's side. He doesn't like to ruin dreams as he prefers to be a cheerleader. This makes perfect sense with his character and Mitchell seems like the perfect scapegoat villain. When Mitchell realizes that Phil is setting him up to be the bad guy, he tries his best to get Phil to admit the truth and publicly back him. It's significant to note how Cam and Claire are united but Phil and Mitchell aren't. Cam and Claire are coming together to work because they have the same goals. Phil and Mitchell can't work together because of Phil's aversion to be seen unsupportive of his wife.
So what happens? Phil and Mitchell's division gets the better of them when Cam and Claire find out their real reservations through a group text message. It isn't until Phil and Mitchell go to the junkyard and discover an actual baseball field that they realize that they were wrong. Cam and Claire might have no experience flipping houses but they might actually be able to do it. This convinces them to believe in their spouses after they're able to acquire forgiveness. They come together but then Jay comes in and springs doubt into all of their minds on whether they should buy the house. It's not because they don't believe they can do it but because Jay brings up that it would divide them and cause them not to talk with each other. Just like it already has. This doubt might have killed their dream to flip the house until they learn that some competitor is bidding on the house. Feeling the pressure, the four decide to purchase it. I'm not sure if this is going to be an actual plot over the episodes or whether it'll never be mentioned again but it wasn't a bad main plot. It was actually very funny and it's what made this episode work so well. Combining Phil and Mitchell to stand against their two respective partners was good but it was made better simply we know what they all mean to each other. The episode felt the need to add Claire's desire to have a job so that she could buy stuff with her own money to try and create stakes but it wasn't necessary. The conflict between and amongst the four was already strong because the relationships and personalities that these characters have.
The other major plot featured Jay and Gloria. Jay is getting bothered because Gloria keeps talking to her fetus. It's funny at first but it's a situation where there's rapidly diminishing returns. By the time Gloira goes from talking to singing, the plot was already old. Gloria's terrible singing made it annoying. Making matters worse is that it was as predictable as you would expect. Of course Jay would talk to the baby to get her to stop signing. Of course he would try and use their agreement to not fight in front of the baby to tell her that she's terrible. Of course this ends up backfiring on him when she prepares a list of things to scream at him later. Of course she would sing the national anthem at the game to try and prove she's not bad. Still, it was a sweet scene when Jay told his little baby that he hopes that he gets Gloria's self-confidence because it's one of her strongest personality traits. It might have been a predictable plot with little laughs but it didn't take up enough time for it to really bother my enjoyment of the episode.
Diamond in the Rough is an episode that surprises by how little is actually going on. On the other hand, there's quite a bit going on in the baseball plot. Not only are Claire and Cam building a baseball field but they're trying to convince their partners to purchase a house to flip. Not only do they have a conflict with their partners but Phil and Mitchell having a conflict amongst themselves. It's true that it might not be as busy in how many plots there were but it still managed to keep that frantic energy because of how much was going on in the few plots that they did have.
The opening of the episode establishes that Haley gets a job...but then she disappears for the rest of the episode. I'm not even sure what the job is which is kind of suprising. It just felt like the series set up a plot-line and then forgot it existed for the rest of the episode.