Modern Family, Season 6, Episode 2, “Do Not Push”
October 1st, 2014, 9:00 PM, ABC
This week, Alex and the Dunphys take a tour at California Tech (CalTech), Claire’s alma mater, where she desperately wants Alex to attend because it’s close to the house. While Claire tries to convince Alex to attend and Alex vows to go to an East Coast school while flirting with a boy she’s just met, Hayley, Luke and Phil split from the group and visit the science building. There they try to game an experiment they’ve volunteered for, only to end up revealing a ton of vulnerabilities and truths to one another. Meanwhile, Mitch, Cam and Lily take a new family portrait to hang over the mantle because Lily’s resentful over being excluded from the current one, but their every attempt at capturing the moment further reveals that Lily has no ability to give a natural posed smile; her reaction to the unvarnished truth leaves Lily bitter and forces Cam and Mitch to work together and seek advice to get her out of her room. And Jay surprises Gloria with a sentimental, handmade anniversary gift whose value is completely diminished because she smashes it, having expected it to contain jewelry, leaving her to work frantically to repair the damage.
Thankfully, the show rebounds from last week’s disaster with flying colors. Returning to its tried and true combination of sentimentality and wicked humor, “Do Not Push” showcases the strong connection between parents and their children, spouses and brothers and sisters– and examines the art of letting go. Or not.
The Dunphys are in the throes of letting Alex go, and even though it’s apparently not going to be much of a move for her when she graduates at the end of the season. The series has gotten in the habit of using a full season to build up toward big season finales over recent years; if season four was about Joe’s birth and season five was all about Cam and Mitch’s wedding , this year is Alex’s year, and the process of watching her grow up over the past five seasons makes the audience feel as if they’re sending a kid off to college, too. All of the kudos to Ariel Winters and Julie Bowen for making us feel that Claire’s loss is the world’s gain.
Meanwhile, Phil, Hayley and Luke’s plot is a core example of what the show does best; combine humor with a somewhat blackly comedic twist. Luke already feels more like himself this season than he did last season, with a glimmer of his father’s pie-in-the-sky silliness in his dreams. And we finally get a plotline where Hayley allowed to learn from what she’s been through and actually make points about the college dropout blogger life. If last season’s Haley had no idea what she wanted to do with her life, then this season’s Haley keeps accidentally involving herself in voyeurism. But at least she’s moving toward self-awareness, which is better than last season’s odd limbo.
The Cam/Mitch/Lily plotline was woefully underdeveloped and seems to exist just to shoehorn the characters into this week’s episode. The non-resolution of it seemed to cry out for more than the wraparound segment we got.
And finally, as for Jay and Gloria this is the best subplot they’ve gotten in seasons. It’s fun to explore their early dating days, to see them express true affection for one another, and to see Manny once again working as the Last Sane Man in the Delgado-Pritchett household.
After last week’s weak return, ”Do Not Push” is a sentimental, funny but rushed example of the show at its strongest.
- ”Awesome! That means Christmas on Neptune!”.
- Luke’s prospective movie: “Hummingbird Man! A superhero whose heart can beat a thousand times a minute! But can it love?”
- Phil apparently did tons of trial experiments for the money back in college. And nobody’s surprised.
- Jay gives Gloria the ceramic bunny because she kept wrinkling her nose during their first date due to her being sick.
- Jay’s other nickname for Gloria: “sexypants”.
- “Just take a deep breath and flirt with somebody at the grocery store.” Wow, Claire.
- Next Week: Phil takes to creative editing Cam and Mitch’s wedding video to disguise the fact that he’s the source point of a terrible head cold that’s been plaguing the entire family since the blessed event (…Which doesn’t explain why every single main character’s been healthy over the past two weeks in screen time. Did this air out of order?). Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria try to help Manny deal with academic stress in “The Cold.”
See? I told you I like Modern Family!