Episode 12: Party Crasher
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
There are a lot of cases of misunderstandings in this episode. A large one has to do between Mitchell and Cameron. This one has to do when Mitchell believes that Cam is upset because while Mitchell is being a work hero, Cam is struggling fitting in with his students and the other teachers. This appears to manifest itself when Lily “marries” Mitchell, causing Cam to get jealous and accidentally injuring Lily's eye. It appears like Cam is trying to upstage Mitchell when he throws a larger wedding with Lily including giving her a car. A present that leads to Lily injuring her neck. The truth comes out at the end when Cam reveals that he's actually been getting along with the students and teachers. He's been fitting in so well that he accidentally forgot to call Lily at the usual time. He feels terrible not because he's a failure at work but because he's been afraid that his success caused him to neglect his daughter. He's been trying so hard to bond with her to try and make it up to her but he has only accidentally injured her. When he accidentally throws Lily into a pool, she calls out to Cam to rescue her. This makes him realize that her daughter still loves him and that he's a good father. Cam is a character who is very dramatic but he can often create situations out of nothing. This was one of those cases and it led to a very funny plot because Mitchell assumed he was the cause. This fit both of their characters and how they tend to view each other just about perfectly which is what helped make it work as well as it did. Overall it was a good week for Cam and Mitchell.
The second case of misunderstanding has to do in the Dunphy household. Haley brings home an older guy and starts to date him. Claire and Mitchell think it's because she's trying to upset her parents so Claire's advice is to do nothing. She thinks Haley will get bored of this guy and dump him. What she doesn't realize is that Haley is indeed trying to upset her parents but for different reasons. Ever since Haley has been kicked out of college, she has felt like her parents treat her differently. She believes that she's a huge disappointment to them and that they don't love her like they used to. She was acting out not because she wanted to upset them but because she was hoping that they would treat her normal. Claire's insistence that they do nothing only upsets Haley because she doesn't think that her parents really care anymore. It turns out that Phil is right in this case. His first impulse once he realized that the older guy was actually interested in Haley in a sexual way was to try and beat him up. The only reason he doesn't is because Claire holds him back. The climax of this conflict is reached when Haley announces her plan to go to a restaurant and hotel with the guy. Claire plays it cool and gives her Phil's credit card. When Haley steps into the elevator, Phil can't hold it back anymore and he decides to go after her. Haley does indeed come back but she's angry that she thinks her parents would actually let her go out with this guy. That is until Phil comes back as well and basically tells Claire that he won't let her little daughter go out with that man. Haley realizes her dad still cares about her and it's all very sweet. This plot felt way more in line with Haley's character than her trying to stop Luke from making out and it was simply hilarious. It lent itself to the best part of the episode when Alex and the older boyfriend meet and Alex doesn't even try to hide her disgust. Overall, a good plot where misunderstanding really created a perfect comical situation.
It's Manny's birthday this episode and his parents decide to give him a surprise party. They want his last birthday before the baby to be special. This involves pretending to forget that it's Manny's birthday and stealing a cake from him. While I'm not sure that they're rampant rule-breaking really fits into the theme of the episode, it did lead to some good laughs. Manny doesn't suspect there's a party so he brings over a girl and the two kiss before they realize everybody is watching. Manny is mortified but Gloria's plans to make him feel better are undermined because the baby decides it's a good time to come out. Her water breaks and she has contractions. She tries her best to keep the baby in so that Manny doesn't have to share his birthday but he's okay with it. He knows his parents love him. All the proof he needs is that his mother is trying to hold a person inside of her to give him a special day. It's a bit predictable that the baby just happens to come on Manny's birthday and that it's during a party where he's supposed to feel like he's not being neglected because of his new sibling. This doesn't make it any less funny as Modern Family manages to inject enough of it's energy and twists the familiar perspective enough to just work.
Party Crasher is a funny episode of Modern Family: there's no getting around it. The whole baby and birthday plot might be as old as time itself but the series manages to pull it off. The Haley plot likewise is something other sit-coms have pulled off but the emotion at the climax felt so real that it didn't really matter. The Cam story covers very familiar territory but it manages to explore it in a way that only this show and it's characters can. This is an episode that proves that Modern Family doesn't need to really bring anything new to the table as long as it can make old sit-com plots appear fresh and offer something new to them.