October 21st, 2015, 9PM, ABC
Claire takes Haley and Alex to work as part of Take Your Kids to Work day (…even though two of them are post-collegiate), and gets to lead the company while Jay’s busy taking care of Joe – but her employees get in the way of a positive experience by constantly searching for and needing Jay’s expertise and noting Claire’s total inexperience. The conflict culminates in Claire being forced to give a retirement speech for a man she’s never met. Meanwhile, Manny and Luke’s class takes in a service day lead by Phil, and their time picking up garbage at the side of the road leads to Phil meeting up with a man who claims to know him, and who asks for a small loan. Phil declares the incident a teachable moment, but finds himself bumping up against Luke’s over cynicism and belief that the man definitely doesn’t know him or the family – leading to many, many more teachable moments that grow increasingly more humiliating; Jay replaces Gloria as an aid at Joe’s preschool when his extremely enthusiastic wife gets jury duty and finds himself grumpily left out of the cheery, light-hearted atmosphere of the place, something made doubly worse when one of the kids makes fun of him. Elsewhere, Gloria’s overt excitement about the American legal system soon works to her disadvantage as she loudly armchair quarterbacks her way out of a position in the jury pool – which she soon tries to sneak back into. And Mitch and Cam argue over whether or not to inviting their friend Raymond (Who’s recently broken up with his boyfriend Jamarcus) to a dinner party they’re throwing will bring down the entire soiree. Caught between compassion and fear of a major social disaster, they turn to Gloria to mediate and she promptly puts on her own mock trial to determine what they should do.
Embarrassment humor is the name of the game on this week’s Modern Family, and humiliation is the uniting theme that binds together our disparate storylines. Sometimes that means some of the stories we’re given are hard to sit through; specifically watching Claire drag herself through the humiliation she experiences is super hard to witness, even though Julie Bowen’s physical take on Claire’s misery is well-acted. The bizarreness of her taking her two adult children to Take Your Kids To Work Day makes the whole episode feel like it was recycled from an earlier season. Meanwhile, Phil’s humiliation is leavened by the fact that his own kid isn’t bright enough to recognize a guy who’s been in an important family picture he’s seen before, and the vehemence in his broken trust gives him just enough dignity. The best subplot involves Jay’s reluctance to partake in the socially free atmosphere of his kid’s school and coming to realize he’s kind of closed-off emotionally, realizing that he’s not helping his son at all with his attitude. Eventually he reads to the kids, and his character takes another step away from reticence.
Mitch and Cam’s plot is completely superfluous this week; I don’t even know why they were so worried about inviting their friend, they’re both so driven about class consciousness and social standing that plots where they actually need someone else to mediate a decision about including a heartbroken friend in their party plans almost seem superfluous, and the fact that they actually grudgingly agree to include him is something of a weird little miracle; it’s hard to remember that they can be kind people after we’ve watched them act like snobs over the past couple of seasons. And Gloria’s jury duty-related subplot is far too short and needed a bit of fleshing out.
Overall something of a mixed bag and something of a step downward from last week’s episode, with the Jay plot being especially worthwhile and some solid funny jokes. Could be better, could be way, way worse.
- ”Have Claire take care of it for you! You know she likes to yell and read the newspaper.”
- Gloria may or may not have experience on a firing squad. Since she’s been shown to have excellent marksmanship skills before this might indeed be the truth.
- Raymond and Jamarcus have been mentioned several times during the course of the series as one of Cam and Mitch’s more stable couple friends.
- Vicki Lewis appears again as Joe’s hippieish preschool teacher.
- Apparently one of the guys who works on the loading docks gave Haley his first catcall. Ew.
- ”I’m like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense!”
- …Has Joe’s diction gotten even worse since the last episode?
- Next Week: The show airs a repeat of last year’s Halloween episode.
A decent episode that could have stood a few tightening rewrites.