Friday, December 04, 2015

Modern Family: Phil's Sexy Sexy House

Though it's still reliably watchable and well-made, it's hard to make the case that Modern Family is still innovating enough in its seventh season to be rightfully called great TV. It's not a knock because the show is doing exactly what it was designed to do:  Produce consistent and interchangeable episodes so that it can make a killing in syndication. 

At this point, it's rare for Modern Family to surprise us but this was certainly one such episode for a couple reasons: 1) The show's deft handling of Hailey and Andy and 2) the classic comedy of errors plot that was elevated by a very game Phil Dunphy at its center.

Steve Levitan and company smartly decided in the first season not to shoehorn the extended Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgado-Tucker clan into every plot because it wasn't realistic, but the advantage of numbers can make a comedy of errors like "Phil's Sexy Sexy House" stronger.

Make no mistake: "Phil's Sexy Sexy House" isn't really a team effort. Mitch and Cam are acting as typical as ever, Sexy Claire has been done in this exact capacity before, Luke (hallelujah: the writers have given him a beer plot rather than a girl plot) is forgettable, and Alex's plot is such an afterthought we never even see them sneak into the house.

Instead, all these characters just add to the absurdity of Phil's aloofness. Seven seasons in, Phil Dunphy is an extremely durable comic character. Ty Burrell's commitment to the character's aloofness and his endless pursuit of dork-related activity rachets his presence up to eleven. 

As far as Andy and Hailey were concerned, Adam DeVine is underappreciated for the convincingly endearing brand of dorkiness with which he infuses Andy. For Hailey, it's a creepy case of "like father like love interest" but for a popular girl who was started out on the shallower end of adolescent TV characters, her relationship with Andy has been a tangible source of growth which is why their relationship has had a surprising amount of meat and bones.

Hailey and Andy make a "mistake" here but the episode provides enough wiggle room to make it a lapse in judgment as far as the future is concerned. The show has so far managed to portray a missed connection here with real-world grounding. The emotional and logistical costs of cancelling an engagement that is already in progress, is portrayed through Andy's explanation that his love has strengthened for Beth once he decided he was engaged to her. It sounds like an open doorway to a runaway groom scenario but it's also a sensible explanation and one hopes that the show doesn't abandon that practical middle ground. 

The other ploys didn't really do much. I really had no idea what Jay and Gloria were doing and I didnt care. Manny has had so many love interests at this point, he's cycling through girls with the speed of a Seinfeld character and he's not even halfway through high school. Just think: There must be a well over a dozen girls at his high school who can form a club based on romantic contact with Manny. Considering he's not the dreamiest guy in his class, how many romantic options can there be left for the guy? Can we at least get one of the old girls back?

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