The Telefile

Modern Family: Back to School Again

by Angel Cohn January 16, 2014 10:27 am
<I>Modern Family</I>: Back to School Again

Maybe it's the budding fever that hit me last night, but "Under Pressure" may have been my favorite episode so far this season. I credit that not to the onslaught of guest stars, but more to the super-fast pacing that really just had this episode moving right along with quick laughs and away from stuff that wasn't as amusing. Here are the moments, from worst to best.

It's Not Easy Being Green
What a waste of Haley this week. Seriously. She delivered a dollhouse and scattered some packing peanuts. And who even has packing peanuts at their house anymore? Mitchell got into a squabble with his neighbor (Jesse Eisenberg) who is one of those "I'm green-conscious so you should be too" types, who complains about Mitchell's watered lawn and his air-conditioner and even makes snobby comments on his Prius and environmental law job. Jesse was fine in the preachy role, if underutilized, but the real horrifying moment was when Mitch said that he recycled lots of things, including children. Meaning that Lily was the equivalent of a pre-owned car. And she heard that.

Manny, Luke and the Twins
Okay, what could have been cute and adorable had a few moments that made the mom in me want to scream at the television. Those trashy young twins happily making out with the boys who clearly weren't at all really interested in them, and the girls themselves weren't much more interested in the boys more than surface level. It's upsetting. Still, if it keeps Manny from being depressed about not having dates, I'm willing to just let it go for comedy's sake.

Gloria vs. Jane Krakowski
Gloria and Jane both want their kids to win this one spot on a trip to Washington, and go to great lengths for it, even starting a dodgeball war (which technically was Cam's idea that had gotten shot down by the school principal). It was interesting to see Gloria in the highly competitive mom role that we often see reserved for Claire, even though it quickly just turned to silly physical comedy.

Phil and Jay
Seeing Phil and Jay bonding together over school, with Phil showing off his nerdy A.V. Club skills and worrying about getting in trouble from the teacher and Jay sneaking in a flask and cutting classes, was just about perfect. Right down to the sheepish look on Phil's face when he walked out of the principal's office after being reprimanded for setting a projector on fire.

Claire and the AP Classes
I like seeing Claire not being super mom, so to see her waffling to keep up with Alex's intense workload at the school open house was delightful. I giggled at her trying to write the prep tests on a coffee cup, and seeing her trying to do simple math on a white board at homework hours, while indignantly insisting that 6 hours of homework a night was too much (it is!) was just plain funny. And the other mom, the one that sat and typed with her sheer disinterest in what was going on with Claire, was a perfect counterpart to the overinvolved mother that Jane Krakowski was playing over on the other side of the school.

Alex and the Therapist
After a breakdown at her 16th birthday party (which, why didn't they make a bigger deal of this, since this family seems to make a big deal about occasion?) which involved her screaming at everyone and stuffing her face with a fistful of cake, Alex decided on her own that she might be a little anxiety riddled with the pressures of junior year. So she set up her own therapy appointment and found a way to get there, so her parents could attend school's open house. Phil's line about her being a self-cleaning oven was spot-on. And much to my delight, her therapist was played by John Benjamin Hickey, the guest star of the night I was most tickled to see (and hope to see more of). They had a conversation about how she feels like an outsider and how her brain moves at a mile a minute and how she might need to stop and take a breath now and then. The real kicker was a desperate Claire picking up her daughter and giving her a hug and saying how much she really understood her stress level, after only coping with it for an hour or two. Such a lovely mom/daughter moment that it might have made me a little teary… though if anyone asks I'm chalking that up to the cold.




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