Episode 20: Flip Flop
By: Carlos Uribe
Modern Family is a show about three branches of a family.
The housing market has struggled over the recession. Modern Family is a show that lives in it's own little economical paradise. The characters never have any money problems and the recession hasn't penetrated the world of Modern Family. This is a show where Phil can work successfully as a real estate agent and provide for his family with no problem. There is nothing wrong with this as Modern Family is primarily an escapist show. It is aimed at making people laugh so it skirts away from the issues with the economy. So it's a bit odd when the series breaks trend and bases an entire episode around the difficult of selling the house in today's market. Actually that's giving the show too much credit. The writers don't really explore the real estate situation in full. They don't go into the issues plaguing the housing market nor do they try to directly suggest that Phil's income is in danger. The Dunphy family remains secure in their finances. There's a moment where Claire feels disappointed because instead of contributing to the family, she had spent a lot of money into a project that went nowhere. Her disappointment makes sense but it's separate from what most people would be panicking about. Claire's worry is that she failed in her goal of making the family some money but nobody seems overly concerned over the actual money. This normally wouldn't bug me as the endless wallets of the characters really isn't a major issue in most episodes. Modern Family usually exists in a world where the economy is never an issue. So when this episode merely references that the real estate market isn't doing so well, it's calling into attention how the characters never struggle financially. Money is really no object for them because it doesn't really exist in this show. The writers place the Modern Family into the real-world's economical climate by references it and it exposes how most people can't really relate to these families. Which is ironic since the whole point of Modern Family is about presenting a realistic portrayal of the new family dynamics showing up.
The writers might have called to attention to the unlimited resources of the characters but they did present a really great episode in the process. It helps that there's only two storylines. A lot of Modern Family episodes tend to add in as many plots as they can. This leads to mixed results as some episodes tend to be overstuffed or some plots rushed as a consequence. This is not the case this week as both plots are given room to breathe. The main plot has to do with the house that Cam and Claire bought. They renovated it and now they're ready to sell it. Only this turns out to be a more complicated process as they find it's difficult to find a buyer in today's market. The series brings in a guest star, Rob Riggle, as the antagonist of sorts. Riggle plays Gil Thorpe, the city's best real estate agent. He does find a buyer for the house but the offer is too low for them to accept. They would barely make a profit. They decide to try their chances. Phil does his best to try and sell the house but he has no luck in two months. It's a bit odd to have a time jump like that in the show. It's necessary for the plot but it also calls into attention that a lot of time has just passed. Did we just skip two months within the show permanently or just for this episode? I guess that since this show is rarely serialized it doesn't bother me that much but it just seems odd to have such a significant time jump. This isn't an animated comedy where the characters are in stasis but a live-action one where things are supposed to evolve. Skipping those two months calls into attention how baby Joe didn't seem to age a day.
So the characters haven't sold the house in two months. Mitchell is dying because he can't rub it into Cam's face and not because of the money. Claire is feeling like a loser. They're ready to give up and accept Gil's offer only to get a saving grace from Luke. Luke has a friend whose a software engineer looking for a home. They are desperate to sell the house to him. Haley does research on him so that they could sell the house to who the engineer is specifically. The sell seems to go perfectly until Cam accidentally reveals how much they know about him. The engineer backs out because he thinks this weird. Here is a place where the plot stumbles a bit. The whole point of that scene is that they used the internet to find out information about him. It's like they stalked him. This freaks him out because he doesn't know how they could know this. Why is this a problem? The whole reason that they were able to pitch the house to him is because he knows Luke. The two are allegedly friends. They're close enough that Luke knows that the engineer is looking to buy a home. Wouldn't it make sense for Luke to know a lot of what they found online? It's a pretty big plot hole when the whole reason he backs out is because he has no idea how they could have had the information. This is fridge logic though as I was too busy laughing to realize this as I was actually watching. It looks like the house won't sell but this is Modern Family. Thorpe comes in and Phil is able to use Mitchell and Cam's sexuality to get a better offer.
The other plot had to do with Javier and Gloria. Javier has a new girlfriend in Trish. At first, Gloria isn't happy that Manny is spending time with another one of Javier's bimbos. Only this frustration turns into insecurity when she finds out that Trish is an intelligent art expert. Gloria gets even more jealous because she thinks that Manny is building a new bond with Trish that will cause him to replace her as the mother figure. This jealousy rears it's ugly head in a game of charades but she can't help but feel frustrated she doesn't know any of the answers. The plot is complicated when Javier announces his intention of marrying Trish. Gloria is not only going to have to deal with a woman whose smarter than her but she's going to be there permanently. Only Trish gets cold feet about the whole thing because of Gloria. Trish believes that she'll never be able to live up to the great Gloria. This makes Gloria feel secure and accepts her into the family. I guess it's a good ending. The plot is able to develop nicely and I was laughing. There were also no plot holes or logic leaps that call themselves to attention which is good.
Flip Flop is a pretty amazing episode of Modern Family. I complained a lot but I really did like this episode. It was a funny offering and I enjoyed myself a lot. There were some issues with the plot: calling into attention the financial abundance of the characters, the whole time jump, and the plot hole with the way the engineer was brought into the plot through Luke. All three are mere small flaws into what was an otherwise great episode.