Modern Family, “Clean Out Your Junk Drawer,” (7.8) – TV Review

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MF Junk

December 2nd, 2015, 9PM, ABC

Gloria accidentally wins a family seminar at a school auction (she’d intended to bid on another package, one for a home organizer according to Jay, but wasn’t wearing her glasses at the time), which sends the entire Pritchett-Tucker-Dunphy clan into an embarrassed tailspin. As therapist Debra Radcliffe tries to get them to embrace their fears and faults, Jay refuses to listen to the guru’s advice, angry that he’s giving up a Sunday and football for this, and goes to multiple extremes to get away from the session; Mitch and Cam try extra hard to impress with their stability and normalcy so their queerness and parenting choices won’t be called into question; and Phil and Claire compete to be the most likable, impressive and successful-seeming of the entire group. Everything quickly falls apart, as Claire indulges in childish racist jokes, Cam and Phil feels starved for affection and Jay admits Gloria is more annoying than he previously admitted. In the end, even Doctor Radcliffe – who created her self-help phenomena as a result of being on the Ellen Show and craving the long-dissipated spotlight – ends up second-guessing herself and abandoning the session, leaving the family to draw their own conclusions. Meanwhile Haley comes to Alex for advice; Alex finds out that Haley did it with the still-affianced Andy during last week’s episode…and Haley finds out that Alex’s boyfriend Reuben is a high school student. Over coffee, the two girls try to hash out how they feel about these developments and deal with their shame spirals. A self-esteem infusion nearly gives both women the power to emerge from their disastrous circumstances, and in the end Andy and Haley can’t help but acknowledge their chemistry and Alex makes a positive step toward romantic independence.

“Clean Out Your Junk Drawer” is an average episode of Modern Family dotted over with truly golden moments that work because the show’s earned them after seven years of existing. A lot of those moments stem from the Haley and Alex scenes; I’m enjoying watching the two of them develop into adult friends after years of adolescent sibling rivalry. The Haley/Andy situation continues apace, with a few sincere moments that continue to anchor their future coupledom in the show’s bedrock. The therapy side of things is more outrageous, with Ed O’Neill has a wonderful monologue when Jay finally, at long last, reaches an emotional breakthrough in regard to his own dad. There’s also a really nice moment for Julie Bowen when Claire worries about her unfunny sense of humor making her ‘unworthy’ of Phil and some nice Cam and Mitch stuff that digs below the surface of the cliché the show’s turned them into lately. Everything works cohesively, with the help of comedy vet Catherine O’Hara, whose expertise just boosts the entire experience beyond what the show is usually capable of. The show should throw some money at her and make her a reccuring star. After all, as this episode proves, the Pritchett clan definitely should have a therapist on retainer.

  • The illustrious Catherine O’Hara portrays the family’s counselor in this week’s episode.
    • The seminar is only supposed to be 45 minutes long, according to Jay.
      • ”I got this! Marry the rockstar…”
        • Phil’s air guitar victory has been mentioned numerous times on the show.
          • Jay knows how to play the accordion.
            • ”ENGAGED Andy?!”
              • ”I heard they let you tase someone!”
                • ”We should both just end it!” “I am not killing myself!”
                  • Phil was once the only white member of an all-POC improv group called “Ha ha Black Sheep”
                    • Lily, Manny and Luke don’t appear in this episode.
                      • Next Week: Gloria’s plan for a perfect family getaway on a snowy mountainside is repeatedly complicated by the weather and an unexpected guest and Jay makes an announcement that startles Claire in “White Christmas.”
                      8.1 GREAT

                      The show is at its best when it displays its dysfunctional-soft heart, and this episode is absolutely no exception to that rule. It’s not a very distinguished outing but it still works pretty well.

                      • GREAT 8.1
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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.