Episode 11: New Year's Eve
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
Oh, hey! A New Year's day episode! That's something you don't every day. I'm going to go through each plot from funniest to least funny:
When a new year begins, it can bring to attention to anybody that time is moving forward. A new year offers people the chance to start fresh but it's also a reminder that you're only going forward in time. There is no going backwards. This brings us to Mitchell's dilemma. He had missed the last new year because he had been too tired. Now he wants to try and recapture his glory days from when he used to be young. He convinces Cam to ditch his family and going to a gay bar in order to dance and party like their twenty-years old. This predictably fails as they aren't young and attractive enough. They do find another bar where they do feel young but only because everybody else in the bar are old geezers. This was a funny story that acted out Mitchell's insecurities. It provided the most laughs but it also didn't really feel fresh or original. How many times have television characters gone to bars in order to recapture their youth? It simply feels like a well that has been dried up for a long time. The episode didn't bring any new fresh perspective and the “original” twist at the end didn't make the plot feel any less average.
While Mitchell is trying to recapture his youth, Claire is on a journey to try and have sex with Phil. It turns out that they haven't gotten any action since Black Friday and this has started to make Claire worry. She's concerned that the two are becoming a couple that rarely has sex or that sleeps in separate beds. She gets Phil to go with her to go find a hot spring that's near the hotel in order to get some action. This manages to work but only after her crisis about their status as a relationship is solved. They are nowhere close to being stale. The reason they haven't done it in a month is because Claire's mom had come to visit and Phil had been busy with the real estate. Their plot ends with them becoming involved in a nudist hot spring New Year celebration. This plot was largely forgettable because of two reasons. It had it's moments but it was never really that funny. The second reason is that it felt like they were discussing a topic that other shows have explored before but without the fresh perspective to make it stand out. All-in-all, the Phil and Claire story wasn't bad but it really wasn't that entertaining either.
At least it wasn't the Jay and Gloria story. Jay brings his family to a hotel that used to be fancy but is now just run-down and average. His family bails on him and Gloria goes to sleep. Jay decides he'll spend the holiday playing poker with the hotel guests (and staff) along with Billy Dee Williams. At the end of the plot, Gloria meets the actor and they share some grapes where they make wishes for each month of the new year. This plot had only one actual laugh: when Billy assumed that Phil was Mitchell. The rest largely looked like the producers had managed to get Billy Dee Williams and wrote him in without actually coming up with funny material. It felt like a guest star stint that ultimately didn't really add anything to the episode.
The final plot has to do with the kids. Haley and Alex are babysitting Luke, Manny, and Lily. This plot made no sense to me whatsoever. Luke is supposed to be fourteen but he needs a babysitter? This would make more sense if he was twelve, but I was able to take care of myself at fourteen with no problems. What business do they have babysitting him? They've mostly dropped the “too stupid to live” personality trait from the character so it's not like they can use. It's understandable that Manny would stay with Haley and Alex because he needs to eat but he's a character who is also perfectly capable of being by himself. The only character who actually needs supervision is Lily. Now part of the joke is that Lily is the only one they don't watch-but it only works if the show acknowledged Luke didn't need babysitters. If the series had done that then the plot would have made even less since. Anyways: Luke wants to make out because he's fourteen and his sisters have a problem with this. Like, seriously? This seems like a huge out-of-character moment for Haley. If anything, she'd actually be advising Luke on how to make the moves. Alex might be trying to stop him but she's like only a few years older than him. If anything, she'd try to compete with Haley on boy advice or something like that. It might not have been fresh but at least it would have fit the characters. They do get Luke to stop making out but it leaves me bewildered on why a show that's usually able to capture sibling interactions that's true to the characters failed so miserably.
In the end, New Year's Eve leaves Modern Family beginning the new year with a pretty mediocre episode. It has it's moments and it made me laugh but it's the weakest of the season and maybe even the series as well. The best of it's plots failed to offer new perspectives, Billy Dee Williams felt like guest stunting at it's worst, and the kids plot completely betrayed the kid's personalities without being funny. All-in-all, a disappointing episode for Modern Family.