Modern Family, “Australia,” (5.20)-TV Recap


MF Australia

Modern Family, Season 5, Episode 2, “Australia”

April 23rd, 2014, 9PM, ABC

Just when you thought the last episode’s trip to Las Vegas would serve for the year’s family vacation episode, the clan Pritchett-Dunphy decamps to Australia this week to visit, on request (and bequest) of Phil’s mother, the continent upon which he was conceived. Phil tries to plan a wonderful, enriching vacation, and spends most of the trip looking for a sign from his mother, but he has a problem convincing the rest of the family to spend time together, and ends up undergoing multiple physical traumas throughout the trip instead. Meanwhile: Mitch and Cam catch up with an ebullient and rich Australia friend Fergus, and end up using him for his wealth, celebrity friends and perks while ignoring the rest of the family – only to end up abandoned in the middle of the Outback; Manny and Luke’s plan to pick up girls at a topless beach goes awry when Luke loses his swim trunks and the women there treat them like children – until they encounter a group of Aboriginal men willing to help them become men; Alex tries to complete her application essay to Harvard but finds herself totally blocked; Claire and Jay get stuck spending most of their vacation in a virtual bidding competition over a job with their rivals at Closets Closets Closets Closets, upsetting Gloria and Phil; and Hayley tries to educate Alex and Lily about the worth of waiting for the “perfect” boy, subject and/or souvenir.

Australia - the episode, not the country - leaves a lot to be desired.

Unfortunately, until the last five minutes or so, this episode’s pretty fairly unbearable. The moral is crystal clear – it’s all about how important it is to spend time with your family, but man, does it make me not want to spend time with this family. “Australia” is “Every Dunphy-Pritchett as a Jerk: The Episode,” and not a single member of the family comes off well in the end; well, everyone but Phil, this episode’s buttmonkey and Gloria, who spends the entire time supporting Phil’s antics or yelling at Jay.

I’m serious when I say this will temporarily make you Mitch and Cam are social climbing jerks; Hayley is hypocritical (when has she ever been picky with boys?), Alex never finds the right subject (hello? Resolution? Buhler? Does she think that footage of her family bonding will make her stand out among the millions of Harvard applicants?), Jay and Claire are greedy, competitive fools (seriously, do they NEED any more money?); and Luke and Manny are desperate perverts. We’ve been shown multiple times how much this family loves one another; did we need yet another episode where they seem to hate each other and want to be as far apart as possible?

Oh, and it also manages to make Australia look like a beautiful but threatening hellscape that chews up and spits out its native people like a Tumblr “damn Australia’s scary” meme, but is also filled with Magical Aborigines. But naturally, in the last five minutes everyone realizes for the millionth time that family togetherness is awesome, and the show dishes out some beautiful scenery and nature photography. Unfortunately, it’s a long, boring, stereotypical slog to get there.

Australia - the episode, not the country - leaves a lot to be desired. The jokes are easy and lazy, and the show’s gone over this territory a million times before. Sometimes the show’s heart overcomes its familiar material, but this episode is a dire example of its laziness. Avoid.


The Roundup:

  • Jay apparently dropped Luke on his head when he was one. That…actually makes a lot of sense.
  • Ahh, “funny” ethnic food jokes followed by appropriation of Aboriginal customs. Oh show.
  • Mitch has twelve friends on Facebook.
  • Yung Mi was the name of Jay’s Korean accountant.
  • And no, Hugh Jackman does not appear in this episode.
  • Hayley describes shopping with Lily as “the best birth control ever.”
  • So I take it Earl Norton won another one over Phil and Claire? Was that resolved?
  • Next week: Gloria tries to organize the family’s yearly portrait, Phil nearly buckles under the stress of telling an enormous lie to Claire, and Jay enters Stella into a dog show behind Gloria’s back in “Sleeper.”
[notification type=star]GRADE: 55/100~MEDIOCRE. Some beautiful scenery and a couple of laughs await you. Actually, if you like watching Phil get tortured nonstop and have been waiting for Luke to be humiliated after his gratingly annoying trip through puberty, this episode’s for you. Otherwise, it’s advisable to skip it.[/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.