TV Recap: Modern Family, Sping-a-Ding-Fling, (5.16)



March 5th, 2014, 9PM, ABC

Cam’s jealousy over a returning (and much beloved) Spanish teacher causes him to engage in a battle of one-upsmanship that peaks at the Spring Fling a Ding dance, where Cam feels underappreciated and they end up in a dance-off. Meanwhile, Haley is Phil’s date to a relator’s banquet, where he humiliates himself by falling off the stage and injuring himself – forcing Haley to step forward and take his place onstage. Phil meanwhile wonders why Haley’s old nose for real estate has gone by the wayside and wonders if he can spark her interest in real estate back to life. Also, Mitch tries to learn the rhythms of his new job working for a nonprofit under a tough boss; his efforts end in death threats and dog baths, and he decides to stand up for his downtrodden co-workers before the day’s over. Meanwhile, Claire chaperones at the dance and tries to nudge Alex and a friend closer together and gussies up Rhonda, Luke’s roughhousing tomboy friend, in the hope of romantically pairing them together too; and Gloria and Jay blame Lily for a pattern of destructive behavior that occurs while they babysit her – which she blames on Joe, whom they think hasn’t learned how to walk.

Warm family fare is in the offering on tonight’s Modern Family, with the shows typical sharp edge hidden under all of that frothy sweetness like a razor blade buried in a pile of cotton candy.

The best part of tonight’s episode involves a surprisingly twisty plot involving Lily, Gloria, Jay and little Joe, who becomes the seeming-scapegoat for his cousin’s bratty behavior. When you think you have the answer, they go ahead and change the question into something delightfully absurd, and watching Gloria and Jay try to figure out which of the kids wrecked their property is a surprisingly fun ride. Also holding up the comedic end of things is Mitch’s attempt at fitting back into the working world, which featured a great guest appearance by Aisha Tyler of The Talk and Archer fame, which quickly leads from one ridiculous incident to the next until he finds himself humiliated before a group of confused but surprisingly caring co-workers; and Cam’s plot – featuring a return to televised comedy by Mad TV Troup member Wil Sasso, which escalates until Cam finds himself dipping Claire on the dance floor.

As for Claire and Phil’s plots, these, surprisingly proved to be the dullest this week out. This is mostly because of how unlikable Alex and Luke have been lately. When you throw Claire’s pushy behavior into the pot what comes out is an unappealing mess. It’s been a long time since nasty Luke and brittle Alex have been enjoyable characters on the show; in fact, former problem child Haley is more enjoyable to watch than either of her siblings, which is quite a change of pace. Not a good one, but at least it’s a change of pace.
As for the Phil and Haley plot, it was actually fairly sweet-natured and cute. But it would be nice if they could make up their mind as to Haley’s future career. I say it every week – and I’ll keep on saying it – until they give the girl some kind of direction.

“Spring Fling-A-Ding” is a passable episode of Modern Family, but it won’t be winning the show any awards –unless they present the Jay/Gloria/Lily portion to the academy.

The Roundup

  • Mitch goes to work in the CFJ, the Center for Justice, which is an aid society funded by a law school friend, in this episode.
  • Joe Pritchet finally takes his first steps this episode.
  • Next week: Jay and Luke try to bond over some shared garage time; Gloria and Claire take Lily out shopping for a new dress; Mitch, Cam, Alex and Manny head out to the museum for the afternoon (Didn’t we literally just see Many and Gloria at a museum?) and Phil helps Andy the Manny make his girlfriend an anniversary gift in “Other People’s Children.”
[notification type=star]67/100~Okay. Another frothy outing with the Pritchett-Dunphys results in a few belly laughs and a little bit of eyebrow-raising.[/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.