Modern Family, “Summer Lovin’,” (7.1) – Season Premiere Review

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MF Premiere

September 23rd, 2015, 9PM, ABC

LAST SEASON: Alex graduated high school with honors, and her parents struggled to let go, especially Phil, who had to attend the party via Skype while stuck across the country on a business trip. Meanwhile, Cam found out Mitch had been laid off from his job, complicating their plans to buy the condo above theirs and Haley and Andy’s will-they-or-won’t-they romance reached a breaking point when mixed signals resulted in Phil being the only one to notice that Andy’s body language indicates he’s got a crush on Haley.

When we rejoin the Dunphys, Phil’s called Alex after his robot body was kidnapped. On his advice, Haley and Claire race off to find Andy…with surprising consequences. Haley mourns the opportunity of their chance to be with Andy hard, and a bummed-out girl soon finds herself being cosseted by a clingy Claire, and courted by her old boyfriend Dylan, which immediately tempts Claire into trying to break them up by telling Andy Haley tried to interrupt his proposal. But when Claire tells Phil her plan, their blurty mouths result in Andy finding out that Haley was into him, resulting in his taking up stress binge eating while he tries to plan his wedding to his now-fiancee Beth. Meanwhile, Gloria and Jay have a hard time placing Joe in a preschool due to their pickiness – and the fact that Jay’s company has built multiple playground structures and cubbyholes that collapse and trap children in their wake. Ultimately they find a close-to-nature preschool that clashes with Jay’s sensibilities. And as Cam is slowly being driven to distraction by the tightness of their budget (living off of a gym teacher’s salary isn’t, of course, very hoi polloi), he finds himself biting the inside of his cheek while his husband tries other occupations on for size and they both try to figure out what to do with the upstairs condo. Until, that is, Cam bumps into Mitch’s old boss and tries to get him his old job as a high-powered lawyer.

First off – The Haley/Andy plot wraps so quickly. So quickly, and with such annoying quickness. It’s nice to watch Haley mourn the relationship like a real person would, and Andy being just as miserable when he finds out the truth – but in the end it leads to the same thing that they had before this storyline started; friendship. Come on, writers, you’re leaving the viewer in a frustrated puddle of anger. We’ve had weeks and weeks of will-they-or-won’t-they with these two, and even now, with Andy getting engaged and Haley stuck back with Dylan, we’re STILL left wondering if they will or won’t. Just get them together, build season 8 around their wedding, give the Dunphys a grandkid in season 9 and wrap the show already. Otherwise the series in general feels like a wasted opportunity more often than not these days, and all that saves this episode are some clever writing and some good plot gags.

The best of these is Mitch’s temporary dive into art and a mid-life crises – Jesse Tyler Ferguson has fun slowly disintegrating into an untalented Vincent Van Gogh, and it’s a hoot watching his dad and Cam try to pull him out of the spiral. There’s a lot of great little bits like that during the show. The Jay/Gloria side of the plot exists to flop before the audiences’ exhausted eyes and could have been comfortably excised without losing a bit of the episode’s energy.

But back to Haley and Andy’s subplot. There’s a thick line between teasing an audience into excitement and boring them into submission, and this episode was proof positive that the show is leaning toward the latter. A decent episode overall, with major flaws cracking its foundation.

The Roundup

  • “I know the look of love in another man’s eye!”
  • Alex is still with her former rival Sanjay Patel, whom she got together with at the conclusion of last season’s “Patriot Games”. They break up in this episode in the most logical way possible.
  • Dylan, Haley’s old long-term bad boy boyfriend, resurfaces in this episode; they broke up in season 4.
  • Andy continues to work for Phil as his assistant, a position he took on in the episode “”.
  • ”We sometimes take a break to date other magnets.”
  • Vicki Lewis of NewsRadio portrays Joe’s preschool teacher.
  • Dylan has become a fashion designer since he and Haley have broke up.
  • ”It’s called ‘Rape of the Immigrant’.
  • Lily doesn’t appear in this episode.
  • Next Week: Alex is so embarrassed by her parent’s presence that she lies about her college move-in date to avoid them. Luke is meanwhile stuck at Phil’s open house, and Mitch and Cam deal poorly with their new tenants in “The Day Alex Left for College”.
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About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of Firefox.org, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.