TV Recap: Modern Family, “Larry’s Wife” (5:3)



10/2/2013, 9PM, ABC

Phil’s real estate agency is booming and it begins to distract him from his duties around the house, causing him to act like a husband to his clients and irritating Claire.  Meanwhile, Luke runs a series of poker games out of the Dunphy’s basement and his wild wagers end up drawing Alex and Hayley into the game; Cam and Mitch deal with wedding-planning frustrations and their inability to delegate responsibilities, Mitch by obsessively cleaning his office and Cam by arranging a  funeral for the cat’s imaginary wife to comfort Lily and prove he can plan a party by his lonesome;  Jay takes Manny to see The Sound of Music and a difference in their temperaments arises; and Gloria thinks little Joe’s violent temper is a sign that an ancient curse on Gloria’s family is still active so she arranges a meeting with a priest.

If you haven’t noticed already, Modern Family is the sort of show where lots of changes occur in a single episode, yet not a lot of overarching plot progress happens, allowing the characters to change in drips and drabs.  That’s why it’s such a popular sitcom; it does a good job of reflecting an outré version of real life, where change sneaks up on you with a song and a pratfall.

625x372This episode contains a series of bright spots; the best involve Cam’s funeral for Larry’s wife, which ends with a house loaded with soaked animals and guests, and Jay and Manny’s trip to the movies.  Cam’s sudden OCD sideplot is predictable but entertaining, as is Phil’s.  What gets the short shrift is the Alex/Hayley/Luke side of the story; we don’t even get to see cardsharps Hayley and Alex at the table, and the adults never step in to stop the wagering before it gets out of control.  Every scene in it feels like a scrap of an idea that popped up in the writer’s room that never got fully fleshed out.

I will never understand why Ed O’Neill doesn’t have an Emmy yet for his work as Jay Pritchett.  His irascible performance is always a highlight, and Rico Rodriguez also deserves some plaudits for making Manny such a standout from the youth set.

Overall, “Larry’s Wife” is another slice of good old-fashioned sitcom fun from the folks at Modern Family.

The Roundup:

  • Phil’s love of terrible puns and badly-used “hip” slang is all over this episode; Ty Burrell nails the awful “mother lode” pun in the beginning with particular relish.  Try not to giggle whenever he says ‘wassup’?

  • Hayley continues to enjoy life as a college freshman, and her slackitude allows her to remain involved in the rest of the kid set’s activities.

  • Ed O’Neill and Sophia Vergara’s chemistry is another highlight of the episode; Jay calmly trying to convince Gloria that all of her family’s prophecy’s a bunch of hooey is a great highlight.  “And so what if Little Joe is poisonous!”

  • In this episode, Mitch’s obsessive-compulsive disorder is revealed and discussed for the first time.  It surfaces in reaction to his stress over Cam’s monopolizing the planning of the wedding.

  • Speaking of, Cam is seen planning his and Mitchell’s upcoming wedding.

  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s acting while Mitch is trapped in a vent is yet another highlight, and an example of classic slapstick.

  • “Oh, they’re cats – that’s going to make my job a lot easier.”  Can’t Hayley and Dylan get back together already?

  • “You got a problem with Poppins – you got a problem with me!”

  • Next week, Cam tries to come out to his visiting sister, Gloria is in denial over needing glasses, and Phil and Claire decide to skip one of Luke’s games in “Farm Strong.”

[notification type=”star”]80/100 ~ Good. solid laughs abound.  The Cam/Mitch and Gloria/Jay sides of the plot are particularly entertaining, Phil remains enjoyably annoying, and the slapstick is old-fashioned and fun.  Smooth, memorable and funny, but not a standout. [/notification]


About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, 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.