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Modern Family 2.05 – Unplugged


 

Oh no, it's... diversity!

Grade: B+

Too Long, Didn’t Read: While the Delgado-Pritchett plot line is a bit of a weak link, Unplugged provides some of the best moments for the show in its second season.

When does Modern Family work best? I was having this discussion with some friends over dinner today. Some thought it was when the comedy focused on one overlapping theme for all three families while others tended to prefer when each family was given its own separate story. I tend to side with the first camp; my favorite episodes in the first season revolved around each family either dealing with a similar issue or when their storylines overlapped naturally.

Last night’s episode, Unplugged, lacked a central theme connecting each of the three storylines. While some parts were a bit disjointed, especially in the quality of comedy from each plot, the overall package was, per usual, stellar.

Let’s start with the bad: The Delgado-Pritchett family. To be honest, their plot threads tend to lack the laughs that keep the rest of the show glued together (maybe that’s why Ed O’Neill didn’t get nominated for an Emmy?). The idea behind Gloria potentially killing the neighbor’s dog was well executed to a certain extent, but the premise itself lacked the creativity that Modern Family usually employs to make the mundane hilarious. The most comedic aspect of their story wasn’t even related to the dog; it was the montage of Gloria as “the parrot” (“SHJAAY! SHJAAAY!”)

The rest of the episode absolutely delivered on classic Modern Family moments that will undoubtably be repeated by all of your friends for the next week. The Dunphys attempt to “unplug” (hence the episode title) from their electronics, leaving Phil promising Haley a car if she can last the longest (“She’s kind of scary…”). Of course it’s a horrible idea, and of course it goes wonderfully haywire. The terrible parental decisions by Phil (and eventual admittal of said poor decisions) are so endearing because of his genuine desire to do the right thing. Of course it backfires on both Phil and Clare, and it wouldn’t be Modern Family if it didn’t. Providing the Dunphy children with more of their own plots and stories is a very welcome addition, and creates a more family centered comedy. Luke might be the most charming child on television today. Who else wants chicken pot pie when his sisters are asking for a new computer and a car? More Luke, please.

Cam and Mitch trying to get Lily into a pre-school (“Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America!”) might have been the highlight of the evening, slightly outclassing the well crafted Dunphy debacle. When Cam and Mitch realize that they can use their diversity to their advantage, they attempt to enroll Lily into the most prestigious pre-school in the area. The show could have ended after a more diverse family outshines them in their multiracial glory (“Disabled interracial lesbians with an African kicker?!”) but Modern Family producers allow the storyline to develop more… by Cam attempting to convince the principal that he is 1/16 Cherokee (“Well, my white man name is Tucker…”). Hilarity all around. It’s a testament to how well the writers know their characters and the boundaries that they’re willing to push to create awkward, amazing moments of television.

I can’t imagine whatever goes on the in the Modern Family writers room that continues to produce unbelievable comedy. The amount of consistency from the show is staggering, with even the poorer episodes producing more laughs than most other sitcoms. Unplugged might not have converted me into the crowd that believes these types of episodes work the best for the show, but it certainly is another well-crafted addition to the series. There’s a reason that the series won the Emmy – it just doesn’t stop being funny.

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