Modern Family: A Hard Jay’s Night (5.19) - TV Recap



Modern Family, Season 5 Episode 19 - “A Hard Jay’s Night”

April 2nd, 2014, 9PM, ABC

Mitch is horrified when Cam’s father carves them a hideous wedding cake topper out of soap – the somewhat homophobic engraving sends Mitch on a mission to destroy it behind Cam’s loving back; Phil teams up with Gloria to sell her old bachelorette apartment – it’s situated in a rough neighborhood, they have difficulty getting a buyer, and they end up getting sidetracked at the salon across the street – there they find themselves applying their hairdressing skills to the shop’s clientele; Jay tries to cheer himself up after a bad week by hosting an evening of family togetherness and homemade art at his house, ignoring Claire’s need for actual praise for her stellar week at the office and trapping her between her desire for praise from her father and her desire to be mature, leading to a conflict that unearths hidden emotion in Jay; and Luke and Manny try to sneak out of the party to attend a party at a senior classwoman’s house.

There’s something especially cringe worthy about this week’s Modern Family. In a parade of stereotypes awkwardly proven and disproven, the entire episode becomes the strangest clash between what the show thinks it represents and what it truly presents.

The best and least-offensive part of the plot belonged to Cam and Mitch, who engaged in a classic sitcom battle of wills over the cake topper. That Mitch somehow thinks Cam’s father’s caricature of him is too effeminate is odd, since we never get a really close look at the statue.


Too bad the rest of “A Hard Jay’s Night” bounces between icky and racist.


And then there’s Manny and Luke. After recent improvements, we’re back to Luke as a jerk being a plot point. This episode’s text cried out for somebody to say that the reason why Luke’s unpopular isn’t that he’s the loud, jokey, sweet-tempered magician from the earlier seasons, but the that he’s become surly and unlikable and obnoxious with the onset of his teen years. Manny, meanwhile, hasn’t change at all. It came close but refused to directly state it, though it would have cleared everything up beautifully. If I were sixteen – as the show rightly points out – I wouldn’t invite him to my party, either.

What can I say about Gloria and Phil’s plot, other than it was pretty racist? Spicy Latina caricatures abounded, making the show’s general presentation of Gloria look downright subtle. We live in a world where Brooklyn Nine Nine exemplifies the apex of the best in racial representation – and Modern Family, ABC’s prestige show, is doing tired jokes about Latinas in the hood. Sigh. We only tolerate Gloria’s being written like Charro on occasion because five seasons of goodwill has been built up. On the other hand, it was fun watching Phil be wise and ply his advice-giving skills.

Also decent was Jay and Claire’s plot. Has there ever been a daughter who hasn’t struggled for her dad’s approval, and has there ever been a man who has been worried about letting go of what he’s built? It was sensitive and ludicrous at the same time.

Too bad the rest of “A Hard Jay’s Night” bounces between icky and racist. It’s a spotty episode with some nice moments, but it suffers from its flaws too wholly prevalent to be enjoyable.

The Roundup

  • ”It’s hero with a she! I’m up to speed!”
  • Cam and Mitch do battle with their egotistical wedding singer .
  • “I’m sorry, Christy huge ones, I have a name!” Luke is terrible.
  • Next week: Features a repeat of November’s “Help Wanted.”
[notification type=star]GRADE: 55/100~MEDIOCRE. At least it wasn’t as bad as How I Met Your Mother, but the episode struggles under the weight of stereotypes to reach something real. [/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.