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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.18 - Las Vegas





Oh, boy, another "main characters take a vacation episode"! And Las Vegas - that's not formulaic in the least. No way will, say, Dylan wake up married to Cam by accident or anything. And absolutely no one will get blackout drunk. Okay, enough with the griping - maybe this episode will work.

We actually get an appearance by jetBlue, which means the product placement in this episode will be rampant, I'm sure. At the hotel, Gloria and Jay delight in their rich-people view of the world while I long for the early seasons of Roseanne, where sitcom characters were occasionally human. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitch run into some friends, Langham (?) and Tim, who are also getting married in the sping, and are in Vegas for a bachelor party. Gee. I wonder if they'll lose the groom(s). Also, Langham - Fred Armisen, by the way - seems to be Mitchell's bitter ex. Nonetheless, the couple invite Cam and Mitch to "come play", and I wonder if this show's about to get a hell of a lot more interesting. And to be honest, they seem pretty damn happy to get away from all the relatives, no matter how much they deny it. Opening credits.

No sooner do Phil and Claire arrive in their room than Claire takes off shopping, leaving him all alone. He thinks it's because he neglected her to audition for a magic troupe. She confesses it was just to have some alone time. See, like Marge Simpsons, Claire has a little problem with gambling, which lost her the money saved for their 25th-anniversary trip several years back. She's determined to win it back without Phil knowing. Up in their room, Phil is greeted by the butler, Leslie Higgins (a magnificent Stephen Merchant). Okay, if you can have a hotel room with a butler, surely you can take an anniversary trip. This show makes no sense sometimes. He promptly stumbles across Phil's handcuffs and restraints, and gets an entirely wrong impression.

Cam and Mitch chill at the spa for a while, but are suddenly called out of their treatment by an officious young staffer, bound for separate massages. Soon enough, Cam winds up at the Big Gay Bachelor Party, complete with tickets to a Britney concert. No mention of where Mitch is, so I'm forced to assume that he's at the party too and a hilarious mixup will soon follow.

Phil goes to his audition, which is still sketchy and vaguely sexual. "Rasputin's Dalmatian drowned in the Volga" is the password, and the guy on the other side sounds exactly like Danny Pudi. I am very sad to find that good old Abed is not, in fact, part of the magicians' circle. Nonetheless, we are promised Phil's charmingly awkward interrogation/audition, so that's something to look forward to.

Gloria and Jay head out on the town, but a crisis occurs when Gloria notices a female version of Jay's dog butler statue, Barkley, in the hotel lobby. She is determined that "Rebarka" will never enter their home, and therefore must carefully steer Jay away. Hilarious hijinks, people. Lots of "look over there" jokes ensue. Meanwhile, Jay is dismayed when he finds out that his special-snowflake membership card won't get him to the top floor of Snobby Hotel. Disappointed that he isn't elite enough, he complains as only a grouchy Ed O'Neill character can.

While Claire presumably gambles away her children's futures, Gloria begs her to charge Rebarka to her room, so that Jay will never know it exists. If this episode doesn't have a scene where Gloria goes ballistic on the statue, Office Space-style, I will be highly disappointed. However, Claire refuses, since she just won this round and has decided that Gloria is her good luck charm. Gloria is trapped.

Mitch and Cam come out of their separate massages, and it's quite clear they're both totally lying about them. They decide to go to the sauna - separately, again - which of course means they're going nowhere near said sauna. Also, Cam has glitter on his face.

We see Phil's trick, "The Miracle of Metamorphosis", which may be the only time we hear a Kafka reference on this show. However, he stutters through it, and before he's even tied up he realizes he has to call Claire (like she'd notice in her current condition). It's pretty clear that interrupting his trick will cost him the membership, but good husband that he is, he calls her anyway. She, of course, does not pick up, as she is violently throwing dice around. There's some weird pseudo-lesbian stuff between Claire and Gloria. Not sure whether I would find that sexy or creepy. Probably both?

Jay corners Gloria and tells her all about Special Snowflake Membership Plus or whatever it's called while she steers him away from the statue. She distracts him by getting him all riled up over the card situation, blaming it on a colleague who hooked him up with the Special Snowflake Card for Losers. While he goes to argue with someone important, she secretly buys Rebarka. I have to say, with my bank account at risk of being frozen at any second and the ruble tumbling into oblivion, I'm really not sympathetic to these douchebags. With the current economic woes in the US and elsewhere, how on earth did they think this storyline would play well?

Claire waits for Phil in the bar, but she's getting antsy. When Mitch arrives looking for Cam, she immediately tries to drag him back to the casino. Though he protests, he is soon enrolled in the Claire Dunphy School of Gambling. Little brothers remain little brothers for life, I guess. Soon enough he's sucked in - and Claire gets banished for being bad luck.

While he's spending the wedding fund, Langham shows up and they have a heart-to-heart about their failed relationship. Langham appears to be hitting on him. I have to say, for a show that claims to be "modern", they are really the most stereotypical and outdated when it comes to gay characters. Queer as Folk was more nuanced and that was fourteen years ago! Anyway, Mitch wins big. He brags about it to Leslie the butler, who is as divine as always. To celebrate, he orders the Technobath, which Leslie is only too happy to draw up. As he goes to make the necessary preparations, he runs into Phil, who is handcuffed and spouting more accidental double entendres than Tobias Funke. He orders a bath, but unlike Mitchell, he goes for the "Michael Buble" theme. I have uncomfortable Hamm and Bubbly flashbacks.



Jay is about to meet with his frenemy who got him the not-so-special-snowflake membership, so he and Gloria go up to get the room ready. The problem is, someone mistakenly delivered Rebarka to their room. She distracts Jay, drags the statue into the adjoining room, and runs into Phil, drawing a fancy bath to seduce Claire. While Jay bullies Leslie all over the place, Mitchell prepares his room for sexytimes (to which the butler makes increasingly indiscreet remarks). Merchant is absolutely killing it in this role, I must admit. "Same price either way", indeed.

Langham walks into the hallway, and asks Leslie where he can find Mitchell. Leslie mistakes him for Mitchell's partner, and invites him in, even mentioning the bath. He then runs into Rebarka, which he mistakes for Phil's partner, and nonetheless does everything he can to facilitate this unorthodox relationship. In the hallway, Mitchell finds Cam, and excitedly tells him how they're going to shake things up and stop being uptight. He throws open the door to reveal glitter, champagne, porno music... and Langham, happily waiting in the bath. There's a general cavalcade of horrified reactions (though Langham is overal cool with a three-way). Accusations are thrown about. Claire walks in at an inopportune moment and draws all the wrong conclusions. To make matters worse, Langham's fiance, Tim, is hammering on the door. Langham runs into the next room, where Jay mistakes him for the guy who can get him the special membership. Gloria knows who he is, though, and unmasks him, so he flees again.

Just as Phil explains that the dog statue is not his partner, Langham bursts in - and is promptly mistaken by Leslie for "Clare". Phil lets him out into the hallway just as Gloria walks in wearing only a towel. She gets caught in the door between the adjoining rooms, however, and yells for help. Phil meets his magician friend Ducky (Patton Oswalt) out in the hallway. He offers to give Phil another chance, so Phil promises that he'll "like what he sees" and takes him into the room. However, Ducky is distracted by Rebarka. If this sounds complicated, well, it is.

Phil ties himself up in a burlap sack and handcuffs, with Ducky's help. The trick is revealed to be Phil getting into a tuxedo while covered. He gets an "ehh" in response. However, Gloria appears in a French maid's uniform, cribbed from some closet somewhere. Ducky mistakes it for the real trick - switching Rebarka out for Gloria - and accepts Phil into his club. Jay greets the real Bert, a stuffy old businessman just like him, and tells him he's ordered a "Cuban". Naturally, he just happens to open the door on Gloria, still in the maid's uniform...

Claire decides to indulge in some couples' counselling with Cam and Mitch, and tells them she's ordered some guilty pleasure to help them get over it. She opens the door to reveal...nothing. Over in Jay and Gloria's room, a bunch of misdirected Scottish-themed strippers gaily dance around. However, Bert enjoys the audacity and immediately grants Jay special snowflake membership. "Vegas," Jay mutters.

Tag scene - Ducky, revealed to be employed as a butler at the special snowflake level, shaves Jay while they engage in uncomfortable talk. Jay finds out that there's yet another membership level. A new mission begins.

Okay, first of all - it was a gutsy move to ditch all the kids and throw everyone into Sin City for some grown-up fun. For the most part, it paid off. At first, it seemed like just another iffy episode. Claire addicted to gambling was pretty funny. Jay and Gloria's story was inane and insufferable and all those other things, and Cam and Mitch's was rather thin, though it led up to the epic conclusion, so all is forgiven. In fact, the entire final third was a barrel of laughs, in a different style from the show's usual routine and yet drawing on classic comedic setup. They took a risk and it worked. I know I spend much of this review dissing some of the more formulaic conventions, but hey, they're used repeatedly for a reason. Hurray for hilarious mixups!

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  • Posts

    • thoughtful


      I listened to some of Baker's sermon from tonight's service, which was about sexual sin.

      After setting up the usual Adam and Eve reason for marriage between one man and one woman, no sex outside of it, and God being against fornication, he acknowledges that it's an embarrassing subject, and that they all feel awkward. But he says it needs to be preached, adding something about looking at his outline and thinking, "Really God?" So of course he is claiming that God wants him to preach this.

      He goes on to talk about characters in the bible who committed "sexual sin." Then he gets to modern day issues. He claims "There are people that say independent, fundamental, Baptist churches have a problem with this, over everybody else. There have been multiple things, over the years, that have pushed and promoted that, ummmm, because," (he chuckles) "Satan looks at, OK, tell me, how many churches are trying to win souls, and show people how to go to heaven?"

      He goes on for a few sentences about how other churches don't witness, don't show people how to get to heaven, and may not even believe it. He says the devil attacks the IFB churches so people will leave and stop saving souls.

      Then he starts listing sexual scandals from other denominations. He says the recent list from the Southern Baptist churches found 703 abusers. But that doesn't mean they are worse than anyone else, just that "we are all flesh, and able to be tempted."

      He lists pastors molesting people and having affairs, in non-denominational and Methodist churches, then a long recitation of statistics about abuse in Presbyterian churches. One of the things he says is that a pastor "confessed to abusing the men and boys in the congregation with sexual foot massages. I don't get that one. Ummmm, I'm sorry, I don't understand that."

      After a break to read 1 Timothy 4:1 and the first few words of 4:3:


      Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;


      Forbidding to marry

      He asks where do you find that? "They forbid their preachers to marry? What group is that?" He points out that forbidding preachers to marry is not in the bible.

      "There's this old joke, and it's bad, but uh, I already started it, so uh . . . "

      No, Dave, you haven't already started it.

      "So anyway, so, this Catholic priest went to heaven - that's debatable - but anyway, Catholic priest went to heaven."

      He blunders through the joke about the Catholic priest reading old scrolls in heaven's library, and screaming when he realized that a scribe made a mistake and it says "celebrate," not "celibate." He tells it incredibly badly.

      He goes on about the many sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic church, then on to teachers. This long list of people from non-IFB organizations sexually abusing people goes on for about 13 minutes.

      We get it, Dave.

      But he does acknowledge that even the saved can be "tempted," and that old age doesn't make it go away. He tells a story about a "faithful preacher" in his 70s who'd lived without TV while raising his kids, so they wouldn't be tempted, but finally got a TV and a cable package, to watch football. He goes on to say that the man was horrified at first by something he saw while scrolling through channels (something sexual, I assume), then kept lingering on that content more and more, until "he did something and they arrested him and he went to prison."

      Well, that was vague.

      He returns to the bible, reading various bits of advice about how to avoid temptation. He gives them many details about how he avoids any hint of scandal with the women of the church, in order to "flee fornication."

      He tells a story about a woman, new to the congregation, who came to his office for counseling, acting "weird," who said she was too embarrassed to say what was on her mind, so he gave her a 3x5 card to write down what she was thinking, and he said that, on the card, she "propositioned me for an intimate sexual act. In my office. Written down on a card."

      He says he yelled at her to get out, called for his secretary to take her out and never give her an appointment again, and called his wife to tell her what had happened. He never saw the woman again.

      Yeah, but did you throw away the card, Dave?

      When talking about trying to keep a pure mind, he tells them that his first paying job was as a lifeguard: "I got paid to look at girls who weren't dressed right. They paid me to do that. That's not a good thing to put up in your brain."

      But, at bible college, he tried to clear his mind of all of those images, focus on God, and have nothing to do with girls. One day he prayed and told God he thought he was ready to meet the woman he would marry. And the next day he saw "a young lady," and "in my spirit God said, 'That's the one. That's her.'" And they've been married for 33 and a half years.

      Citation needed, Dave.

      He goes on with more advice from the bible that he claims will keep them from sexual sin. He warns them about friendships turning into affairs because couples got too close to other couples, or because women foolishly thought they could have a friendship with a man, "until the one day when you let your guard down, and he's looking for an opportunity."

      Then comes a story about a man who worked for Lester Roloff (who Baker describes as "a wonderful man of God" 🤮 ), who backslid, got a secular job, fell in with the wrong crowd and left his wife and children. Because, I guess, that's what happens when you get a secular job. 🤷‍♀️

      He never hugs women. "OK, sometimes I get accosted." He imitates how stiffly he stands, arms by his side, when someone hugs him, until they realize he's not hugging back. "OK, get the hint - I don't hug women."



      He never flirts with women, except for old ladies at the nursing home, because his wife says it's OK. But he says it wasn't really flirting, but teasing them "mercilessly." His example: an old woman "80-85, in a wheelchair" asked him to say something nice to her (because he usually teased her mercilessly), and he said "You don't look near as bad today as you did yesterday." He says she and the ladies around her "busted out laughing."

      He defends his practice of helping "fallen" men and their families, with a brief mention of how people should also help their victims.

      During the altar call, he throws out more advice about staying pure in mind and fleeing fornication.

      After the altar call and another round of explaining why he had to give this embarrassing sermon, he asks who thought that the temperature in church was comfortable. After they've raised their hands, he says "Tryin' t'see all the people with a cold heart, so we have to make it so hot so they can be comfortable."

      He complains that it's so hot that "I'm dyin,'" then asks for a show of hands from those who thought it was too hot. Childishly, he says, "See, look around!" And then asks his son to dismiss them in prayer.

      tl:dr - everyone accuses the IFB of having the most sexually abusive clergy, but that's the devil targeting them because they are saving souls, also whataboutism. Men are all tempted, because flesh and sin nature.

    • JermajestyDuggar


    • JDuggs


      I think it’s a good bet that Micah will end up in Florida. He seems to be able to get some modeling work there and he seems to enjoy the boating/fishing lifestyle. When he’s in Florida, he usually seems to spending time out on a boat with Ed Butera, Ariana Grande’s father. I thought I remembered a cryptic Instagram comment that maybe Moriah had moved further away from Cairo than Tampa. I really don’t know how she’s going to support herself because her music really sucks. Ethan did seem to like Minnesota, but I still see him going back to Cairo for the cheaper, slower lifestyle. All we know for certain in that Olivia moved to Los Angeles six months ago, but she doesn’t plan to stay there permanently. She just wanted to try it out.

      • Thank You 1
    • marmalade


      22 minutes ago, Father Son Holy Goat said:

      It will be interesting to see what she confirms.

      She'll probably say that it wasn't like that, her parents loved her, yadda yadda. Jeremy might lean cult, but not to the point where he pisses off his in-laws. He'll probably acknowledge that he wasn't raised the same, and that he had doctrinal issues with JB. 

    • marmalade


      All 3 of them are living off show money. Micah has said he's barely working. Moriah is an underaged bartender. Ethan did get a job, but he seems to be  it working at it more often. 

      Once the show money dries up, they will have to course correct, since their current lifestyles won't be sustainable. I think the adjustment period will see them in/around Cairo as they have all seemingly reverted back to original dogma. 

      I hope they can support themselves in a healthy manner someday, but now they're too enmeshed. 

  • Recent Status Updates

    • dairyfreelife


      My sweet pup was diagnosed with a brain tumor in September. She passed away in my arms on Thanksgiving morning. It all happened so fast. She didn't want to eat anything the day before, but prior to that was ok. Knew it was near time and had booked an appointment to take her next week. However, she decided for me. She was only 8 and really was one of the best dogs. She never met a stranger, human or dog. Life isn't the same without her. 
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    • Scrabblemaster


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    • 47of74


      Yeah, Earth sure the fornicate has issues....

      · 1 reply
    • Zebedee


      Someone please remind me to buy peanut butter. Seriously, I have been meaning to get some for at least three weeks, and everytime I remember, the shops are already closed! 
      · 3 replies
    • 47of74


      How many of us had this situation this morning?  

      · 0 replies
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