Episode 16: Bad Hair Day
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
We like to be seen in a positive light. This is basically what this episode is about. The most obvious example is Gloria. She believes that the family has seen her as a gold digger who likes to do shallow activities. They think she just shops and get her hair done. This perception has changed ever since she's had the baby. They see her less as a trophy wife and more as a mother. She doesn't shop for fun anymore but has to take care of two kids and take care of the home. She likes to them to question how can she can do it all. There's a moment in the episode where she throws away a free day to the spa because she doesn't want to do anything to challenge that perception. What she does do is fake an injury so she can secretly take that free spa day. This allows her to be relaxed for when she goes back home and discovers that her baby's haircut has been completely messed up. She doesn't get angry as people expect but accepts the person who took responsibility for “telling the truth”. Why doesn't she get angry? It's all a part of her new image that she's trying to sell to the family. This theme of image doesn't just show up with Gloria but in just about every character's action in this episode. Luke is hoping to get his parents to sign a letter that states he failed a project because he doesn't want to get in trouble. He is hoping to keep up the image that he's not failing. Manny is worried when he bombs another audition to the point where he doesn't think he's a good singer. Jay is able to build up his confidence of singing in public which allows people to see him as talented. Jay himself wants to be on a winning bowling team so he's seen as a good bowler by sneaking a retired pro-bowling player into his team. Which is against the league rules.
This extends to the other two main plots. The first main plot has to do with Cam and Mitchell. The two are hosting an Oscar party and Cam is using Lily as a model. When she quits, the two decide to use Joe because they're watching him after Gloria “twisted” her ankle. The problem is when Lily glues Joe's wig into his actual hair. The two have to figure out a way to get the wig off before Gloria notices. When steam doesn't work, they realize that they have to shave his head off. This only troubles them more because it gives Joe a ridiculous haircut. We don't really see it until the end of the episode but it basically justifies calling this episode Bad Hair Day. They want to hide their involvement because they don't want Gloria to punch them. This is them hoping to shift the perception of who was behind the haircut so that she doesn't get angry with them. Mitchell is the first one to pass the buck by agreeing to go to Missouri for ten days if Cam does it. Cam doesn't want to do it so he gets Manny to do it by giving him the role in the school play. Manny accepts but he doesn't want his own mother angry at him so he gets Luke to do it by offering to forge a signature on the letter Luke needs signed. Only Luke doesn't allow Manny to finish the offer so he agrees to do it in exchange for the cool pen. Luke chickens off and he gets Jay to do it in exchange for not telling the league about the professional bowler. They all basically accept to take the blame in order to save their images-except Luke. Luke might have accepted the pen but he was offered the chance to get out of having his parents find out about the letter's contents. Manny wanted the role in the play to showoff how talented he is while Jay wanted to keep his statue so that his wife remains proud of him.
The final main plot has to do with Phil and Claire. Claire goes to her college reunion by herself where she runs into a professor that she had slept with. She's happy that she's not with Phil so that she can drink and enjoy herself without having to introduce Phil to everyone and explain to him the inside jokes. Phil does surprise her when he shows up but it gets awkward when he finds out that there's an ex-boyfriend there. This is all important because there's a moment where Claire admits what would have happened if the professor hadn't broken up with her. She does get a brief image of what that would have been like when she sees the professor's wife being completely miserable. Their plot had to do with image but not the one they were trying to present themselves but on how life could have turned out if things had turned out differently. Bad Hair Day is a hilarious episode of Modern Family that's all about perceptions and image.