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Modern Family 1.24 – Family Portrait

Grade: B

Let’s all take a minute and understand exactly how monumental Modern Family has become. The breakout comedy of the season, Modern Family (known in development as My American Family) was the early pick-up last year by ABC after it tested through the roof (this year, that would be No Ordinary Family for the network). The premise was simple and perfect: a single camera sitcom about three interconnected yet different “modern” families. The show became easily the highest-rated freshman comedy and is one of the few series that I can talk to most people about (see, no one usually watches the stuff I like).

And now, the season finale. Modern Family is king of taking the mundane aspects of family life and turning them into comedic masterpieces. What’s more boring than family pictures? They’re a lot of work to coordinate with little actual payout (great, a picture with extended family members I barely know). A family portrait is also the perfect way to end Modern Family‘s first season: there’s the potential for both the loving family moment at the end as well as comedic excellence. The last part unfortunately doesn’t quite pan out as well as it could with the ending being charming, yet completely predictable. I’m not entirely opposed to every episode of Modern Family ending with a loving high-note, I just wish that it spiced things up a bit, as the “messy family” was already done beforehand (when they all jumped in the pool).

The highlight of the episode was easily Cam and Mitch’s plotline. I don’t think it necessarily makes sense that Cam is angry with Mitch for not going to the wedding and it pales in comparison to Claire’s neurotic need for perfection. However it did give us a reason for Mitch to be at home while Cam is singing Ave Maria at a wedding.

Holy crap.

The slow-mo fight that isn’t really a fight is definitely overdone. But there is a brilliant build up to this amazing climax. Mitch running to the kitchen to get milk for Lily, screaming and jumping up and down while he’s filling up the bottle… All of it leads to an epic confrontation that is potentially unrivaled in this season’s comedies. First he attacked the bird with a tennis racket. Then with pillots. Then with fire wood. And finally… the fire extinguisher. All of it in slow-mo  to the sounds of Cam. Perfect. I had to watch the entire thing twice because I was laughing so hard. This was easily the funniest part of the episode and one of the funniest scenes of Modern Family so far.

Unfortunately, other parts where slightly dry. The kiss cam? Eh. Not that funny. Neither was Claire’s home improvement. Other parts of the episode were saved with little drops of humor, mostly revolving around Phil. Asking Kobe “how… do you like basketball?”, “Actually, Where’s Waldo doesn’t stand out; he’s super-hard to find.  Also, his name is just Waldo.” and “Luke walks over there Hurt Locker style, flips the switch, and boom!  Well, not boom” are classic Phil lines and gave much needed comedic padding to everything not involving Cam and Mitch. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to ground the episode quite like Mitch v. Flyza Minnelli’s cousin.

It’s slightly unfortunate that Modern Family couldn’t have ended it’s fantastic first season on last week’s episode. Family Portrait isn’t a bad episode per se but it isn’t nearly up to par for some of the show’s greats. Thankfully we’ll get to join the Pritchetts and Dunphys this fall for (hopefully) another amazing season. It’s gonna be a long summer.


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