The Telefile

Modern Family: The Snark Factor

by Rachel Stein March 28, 2013 11:12 am
<I>Modern Family</i>: The Snark Factor

As a feminazi with no sense of humor, watching Modern Family is tiring -- but writing about this show is truly exhausting. To be clear, "The Wow Factor" wasn't all that bad, but also, I don't like genuinely hating shows... especially not comedies. I love being snarky and meticulously nitpicking what's wrong with Modern Family, but I take no pleasure in having to come here every episode and tell you why the half-hour of TV you enjoyed last night after your long day of work was actually, on my completely biased critical level, pretty crappy.

Now, I definitely like seeing that Jesse Tyler Ferguson reads my stuff and tweets about it, because A) That's obviously really fun and a pretty big honor as a writer (and it's a lot better when you're writing nice stuff and get to talk to actors about it -- knowing Walton Goggins reads what I write about Justified, which turns me into a puddle of goo) and B) That means that JTF can have a sense of humor about me shitting on his show, and the world is a better place when we can all give and receive snark.

It's also literally my job to watch TV and write about it, and I may actually be the person here at TWoP who likes this show the most, if you can believe it, so without further ado, let's see what went wrong last night's "The Wow Factor," and remember at the end of the day, JTF's getting paid to act and I'm getting paid (way, way less) to write for a snarky blog that is notorious for being contrary and mean about television.

Claire and Cameron
I really enjoyed their banter and evil plans against each other at the beginning of the episode -- "Yesterday I actually said elevendy-five" made me laugh -- but the second they brought in archetypal Pam the Lesbian, things went downhill fast. Julie Bowen did her best with the physical comedy, but the whole thing was an excuse for another few cheap and unfunny shots at a character I already find problematic, and the dead fish at the end were just plain depressing. (Though I tip my hat to the writers for not turning that into some gross cliché, too.)

Phil, Haley and Alex
I know Haley is a ditz, but I definitely don't buy that Alex is stupid enough to not know how to use a broom, or to put dirty sugar back into the jar. Still, this was definitely my favorite component of "The Wow Factor," mostly because I adore Fred Willard (Though "Are we gonna do that thing again where you try on different outfits like in Pretty Woman?" demanded a flashback montage) and because I loved this exchange between Phil and Haley:
"Oh, if only there was some magical way of getting up closer to the ceiling."
"Okay, now you just sound like Dylan."
Can't you just hear Dylan saying that? Ah, I miss that guy.

Mitchell, Lily and Luke
Credit where credit is due: Lily was funny last night. There wasn't much to this plot and the writing could have been much, much tighter, but Luke's closing montage elevated it, as Luke-helmed montages so often do -- "Ha, you just spelled ass in Sign Language," is a season highlight. There was also even some subtlety with its denouement that "Cam's gonna be doing drop-offs for a while."

Manny, Gloria and Jay
I don't even want to dignify this extended ad for Skyfall with much commentary, so I'll leave it at this mildly funny interaction, which is like an extremely nice version of how I feel about the Pritchett-Delgados:
"You can take Joe to his baby class."
"Gloria, I think he already knows how to be a baby."
"I love you, but I can't laugh at that again."

And, as always, here are "Just the Jokes," a segment I still think is the ultimate burn given that a montage of gags from a 22-minute sitcom should probably be closer to 18 minutes. Hulu, you are nasty.

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