Modern Family, Season 6, Episode 13, “Rash Decisions”
February 3rd, 2015, 9PM, ABC
Frustrated by his son’s social snubbing, Phil buddies up to his mentoree in real estate Andy the ex-manny in his off hours, leaving Luke jealous. Meanwhile, Jay’s caught between a rock and a hard place when Joe develops a rash and Gloria becomes convinced he’s allergic to Stella the dog, forcing them to board the pup with Mitch and Cam for a week to test their allergist’s hypothesis. While Lily loathes the dog and Cam dotes on the dog and reacts poorly to Jay’s micromanaging, both men are poised to vie for the dog’s affection when the result of the allergist’s test finally comes in, leaving Jay in the doghouse. In the meantime Mitch himself deals poorly with the pressure of trying out a friendly new way of being while working a case at Jay’s company – which leaves he and Claire to argue over which one of them needs to handle the dirty work of telling Lucy, one of their co-workers, who likes to wear office-inappropriate revealing outfits to cut it out. Also Alex is stuck carpooling with Haley to a college interview.
Last review, I talked about Modern Family’s tendency to be caught in an upper class social whirlpool that makes its characters seem a bit…insular. This week, the show focuses in on what works better: simple comedy that interconnects the generations. It still feels bland but at least it scares up a laugh or two in the process.
Let’ s get the good stuff out of the way first. Phil and Andy’s friendship is always a treat to watch; I was worried that when they ended his flirtation with Haley and with Joe getting older Andy might disappear from the show, but his mentor/mentoree situation with Phil and his interest in real estate is a funny and decent season-long subplot. And the ambivalence Luke has about growing up has been one of the better subplots they’ve given him since they started driving a little post-adolescent wedge between Luke and Phil. The entire plot works fairly well.
The Stella subplot’s funny, too – Jay’s feeling for the little pooch is the best thing about his later-canon personality. And when she’s taken away and deposited into a life of belly rubs and football jerseys, you really root for him to get the little pup back; the level of attachment from him to her is just that strong. The other half of the storyline, though, is muddled - I have no idea why Cam would suddenly grow so attached to little Stella; he’s never shown a similar attachment to her in the many various times he’s been over at Jay’s since the Delgado-Pritchett’s acquisition of the little French bulldog, and he has his own cat whom we barely see unless the plot requires it. Lily’s instinctive loathing of the dog was…satisfactory, if not quite amusing enough to keep interest from flagging as Jay and Cam argued over parks and water bowls.
Sadly, the Haley and Alex plotline remained pointless, taking all of two scenes and going absolutely nowhere. And then there was Claire and Mitch, trying to be ‘nice’ and yet criticizing their co-workers for daring to wear the same jacket or putting on a distractingly tight blouse. Why ‘niceness’ is so important to Jay and why he can’t just tell the woman to cut it out himself remains unseen.
The result is an episode that draws a shrug from the unlucky viewer. Modern Family once created strong buzz and gave us strong, relatable characters we loved (and sometimes loved to hate). Now it feels like it’s churning through the motions, having run out of anything useful to say about them.
- That ‘in the closet’ joke was incredibly cringeworthy. I’m surprised it passed muster.
- The ‘cultures and ethnicities’ joke that follows is even worse.
- Jay and Gloria got Stella in season two’s “Good Cop, Bad Dog”. There have since been seven episodes revolving around Stella, yet the show still can’t cough up a decent subplot for Alex.
- Andy the ex-manny became part of the Dunphy family’s orbit in season five’s “The Help”.
- Next Week: Gloria’s hotsy-totsy sister visits the family and Mitch and Cam experience an awkward encounter with Anders in “Valentine’s Day 4: Twisted Sister” !
Much of the material, especially the stuff with Stella, was mildly amusing.