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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.9 - Strangers In the Night


crazyforkate

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stranger

Once again, I'm pretty sure they've used that title before. So, television is back from its Thanksgiving break, and I'm only slightly behind, having come down with a case of Unexpected Theatre Tickets on Wednesday. That darn entertaining disease! Regardless, I have plenty of snark left in me, so let's get on with it.

The Dunphys have been receiving roses in the mail, but don't know who sent them, which is beginning to freak them out. (Also, Haley sounds strangely hoarse for some reason.) Phil suggests that it's Dylan try to win Haley back. They go through a list of guys who might be leaving roses for Haley, which makes it pretty obvious that they're for Alex. It's soon revealed that Alex does, in fact, have a boyfriend who may be responsible for the flowers, and everyone is shocked. Like, seriously shocked. I don't get this, guys. They started out with two slightly different daughters, and now Alex is a pariah. No wonder she stomps off when they treat her like that. Personally, I'd move out of state. And Nolan Gould's acting remains as terrible as ever. Opening credits.

Claire and Phil interrogate their daughter about her beau, but come up with nothing. She claims he's a model. No one quite believes her - which means it's all true. Claire and Haley are particularly rude about it. At least ever-faithful Phil believes her. In fact, he wants her to invite this nice young man over. Oops.

Cam tries to impress Lily with a new white antique sofa, which seems like a very bad idea in a house with a seven-year-old and a cat. Lily is not interested, though Cam and Mitch squeal. They claim it's an attempt to teach Lily responsibility for other people's things. I didn't realize this included frisking the kid before you let her use the couch.

Meanwhile, Jay has lost it completely and is attending an elaborate birthday party for the dog. We're talking bow tie and everything. Carry on.

Manny is downcast because he got conned by a kid at school. Jay tells him to toughen up as usual, Gloria leaves him in charge of the baby, and the two sons are left home alone for the night. And Joe is apparently somewhat of a psychopath, even for a toddler. Oh gee. I wonder what kinda crazy hijinks they'll get up to.

Mitchell reluctantly chats with his new coworker, Brenda (Kristen Johnson), who is a complete and utter downer, with a nice dose of oversharing to liven things up. She needs a place to stay after the end of her marriage, so Mitchell reluctantly invites her home - or rather, she invites herself. Meanwhile, Cam lets Larry the cat sit on the couch "because Larry's white". Erm - that's an aesthetic thing, guys. Fortunately, the phone call from Mitch interrupts this exchange. Mitchell is desperately trying to ditch Brenda, while Cam pleads with him to do the right thing - all the while preventing Lily from going anywhere near the couch. Finally, Cam wears him down and Brenda comes to stay. When she hears the news, she plants a great big kiss right on Mitchell's lips. Looks like this is going to be an adventure.

The dog party turns out to be a "Bark Mitzvah", complete with a pug doing the hora. Gloria is weirded out by the dog-obsessed guests, and you know, she's got a point. When they all snuggle in closely, she finally flips out, telling her husband that it's a ridiculous flaunting of pointless wealth and she won't take part.

Brenda and Cam get along famously, much to Mitch's annoyance. Unfortunately, she immediately falls out of their good graces by daring to sit on the precious couch with a glass of red wine. They try to put her out in the garage. No, I am not making this up. They try to make a woman sit in the garage because of a fucking couch. There are strong contenders for Asshole of the Episode this week, and Cam and Mitch are high in the running, let me tell you. There's a funny sequence where she keeps almost spilling the wine, but then she doesn't, and the pain on Cam and Mitch's faces is hilarious.

Alex's boyfriend Alec (oh boy) shows up to say goodbye. You see, he's moving to Africa now, since his dad is a top-class surgeon whose skills are desperately needed overseas. She is clearly way more into him than he is into her, though, unless you consider that he's a teenage boy, which generally means having the emotions of a gnat. After he leaves, Phil and Claire suggest that Alex invite her mythical boyfriend to dinner, only to hear that he's conveniently gone away. Naturally, there are a series of misunderstandings, all of which point to a George Glass-type situation.

Gloria returns home to find a hysterical Joe, who has been deprived of his favourite TV show and is reacting like toddlers do. Once the baby is quiet, Gloria vents about how terrible the dog party was. Manny says that Jay is totally sacrificing for her too, attending a party to celebrate a friend's green card status, because picnic to celebrate milestone event in someone's life = spending thousands of dollars to honour a dog, I guess. Gloria decides to return to the stupid dog party. I'd rather gouge my eyes out, but marriage is a compromise, dontcha know?

Cam and Mitch discuss how to tactfully get rid of their unwanted guest. They stick her with appalling sleeping quarters - a couch that is about half her size - and make fun of her complaints. She suggests sleeping on that nice new couch. They give up and let her have their bed.

Gloria arrives at the party with both boys in tow, claiming that "If you love the party, I love the party". Manny claims this attitude is part of a healthy marriage, which shows that he should never get married, ever. Jay takes his stepson aside and tells him that Gloria was meant to go home - that way, he could convince her that some things should be done separately, and thus get out of the things he doesn't want to do. Of course, he never actually told Manny this. That would be way too simple.

Claire and Phil apologize to Alex for doubting her, and express concern over the fake boyfriend. She's outraged that they would think so little of her. To prove that she's telling the truth, she tells them that in the short time since the breakup, she has managed to acquire another date - named Teddy. Which would be great if it weren't for the teddy bear sitting right on her bed. And all the other details vaguely connected with his story. Finally, Alex gets frustrated and throws her parents out. They slink away shamefaced, but still plotting. Jesus Christ, give that kid a break.

Just then, the doorbell rings. It's Alex's new boyfriend, with a rose. They run off on their date, Claire and Phil celebrate Teddy being real, and thus our story has a happy ending.

Cam and Mitch, asleep on the living room floor, are disturbed by Brenda's snoring. It turns out that she's moved to the couch. They try to roll her off the couch, accidentally wake her up, then Gaslight her into thinking it was her fault. Prizes, the pair of them. Once alone, they wonder if they're terrible people. Yes. Yes, they are.

They decide to prioritize people over things, and are happy to find Lily reading Brenda to sleep. On the precious couch, of course.

The next day, Jay grumbles about the picnic and blames Manny for it. Manny, meanwhile, is just happy that he gets to stay home and watch The Sting in peace. When Jay hears that the movie is about con men, he realizes that Manny had planned this all along as an excuse to get the TV. Or he's just reading off the DVD cover. You decide.

Tag scene - the guys make fun of all of Brenda's beauty supplies, then indulge in their own extensive collection.

Well, both main plotlines provided some comic moments (Jay and Gloria were, as usual, filler) - though the Cam and Mitch storyline was more reliable on this count. There were jokes here and there that landed, and though the fake boyfriend has been used often, it worked well. But the humour is getting - well, ridiculous. Characters are Flanderized beyond belief, and everything has become so mean. At the beginning of the run, the families were snarky but still somewhat believable as a loving group. Now, all I see is dysfunction and bullying. Lily with the couch was funny. Brenda was not. Alex and the fake boyfriend was funny. The rudeness from her parents was not. A family like the Bluths can get away with this kind of shenanigans. This family cannot. It doesn't feel true to the characters the show began with. Alex's story in particular was reprehensible. I guess we'll have to see if next week makes up for it.

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