Modern Family, “Patriot Games,” (6.22) - TV Review


MF Games

May 6th, 2015, 9PM, ABC

Alex’s principal allows her to compete in the one a one mile run with her co-valedictorian and longtime rival Sanjay Patel to establish one of them as the sole head of the student body after their final grades result in a tie to the thousandth decimal. While Alex’s proud parents are willing to accept the end of their children’s rivalry, The Patels want a decisive victory, and Alex and Sanjay aren’t about to let it go undecided. When the Patels continue to behave in a snide manner toward the Dunphys the other family embraces the spirit of competition – a situation that takes a left turn when Sanjay seems to reveal a long-held secret about his feelings for Alex. With Cam officiating and this new info in play, who will win? Meanwhile, Gloria studies for her citizenship test much to Jay’s delight. He tries to Americanize her – and in the middle of the hubbub Gloria must deal with a visit from her ex-husband Javier, who declares she’s losing hold of her Columbian roots, thus setting up a tug of war between two cultures…which grows more intense when Gloria learns just why Jay’s so excited about her becoming a citizen. And Mitch and Cam protest a local restaurant while secretly yearning to eat there due to their out-of-this world burger – and their inability to grasp what the protest is about.

And this week’s episode continues along with the show’s bizarrely mean-spirited yet sweet-cored mien. It’s predictable that Alex and Sanjay end up where they end up, but at least there isn’t any overt racism (that’s saved for the Gloria plot where, yes, there’s a cringeworthy Mexican jumping bean joke (don’t ask me to explain the Irish glitter tears joke, no matter what lens you look at it through the joke remains unfunny). It has the highest amount of funny jokes and that saves it from being too awful to enjoy.

Gloria’s plot is nonsensical (see the note below) on top of being doused liberally with strange racist inflections. When Manny and Jay’s true motives are revealed for pushing Gloria along the path she chooses, the audience is left with the impression that both men are cold-bloodedly looking out for their best interests.

Cam and Mitch’s storyline, meanwhile, continues to be colored by the shallowness and creature-comfort driven centers of their character. The show just tossed us an anti-protest Aesop in the middle of the story, shrugging and I don’t know how I feel about that. I only understand that showing queer protestors in a shallow and negative light at a time like this is the worst possible thing the show could do to seem hip and modern. Wrong cultural atmosphere, terrible timing, and it only serves to make Mitch and Cam look even more like shallow idiots.

It’s not a tragically bad episode like last week’s, but it’s not very much better than the stuff that’s come before it. The generally charming Alex plot is what saves this one from the dung heap, and makes it worth recommending.
The Roundup

  • One quibble: wouldn’t Gloria already technically be an American citizen thanks to her marriage to Jay?
  • “Do Irish tears not sparkle?”
  • “Would you be happy if the SuperBowl ended in a tie?” “Yes! Then there’d be twice as many parades!”
  • ”How was take your son to not-work day?” “How was life before radio?”
  • Alex used to get out of breath hauling around a copy of Ulysses in elementary school. She also once caught a mistake on Phil and Claire’s taxes and got a poem in Highlights Magazine when she was five.
  • Alex and Sanjay both missed the run in question because they were out of town at a debate.
  • “Enjoy your Hydrox Cookies and your silver medal, Mr. Vice President!”
  • Sanjay has been often mentioned but never seen before this episode as Alex’s greatest rival.
  • For the first time ever, we get a voiceover from a character that isn’t a member of the Pritchett clan…or human.
  • 7.5 GOOD

    Odd morals conflict with some decent comedy

    • GOOD 7.5

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.