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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.18 - Spring Break


crazyforkate

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camfollies

 

WOOO SPRING BREAK! YEAH! HOES AND LIQUOR AND BEACHES! WOOOT!

I'm just going to be incoherent throughout the episode, since we all know Arrested Development did it better.

In fact, it starts out pretty lame, with no-talent Luke questioning why his sisters spend so much time online. (Nolan Gould, I love you, but you need to look into being an accountant or something.) Alex is supposed to hear back about college admissions, and is behaving like she's sitting on a wasp's nest. (Oh, honey, so been there.) Claire urges her to take her mind off it, being a heinous shrew who can't possibly understand and oh my god I think I seriously just wanted to murder Claire Dunphy. Haley manages to coax Alex to come with her to a fashion event, even if it kills them both. Alex, tired of sitting around worrying, is game.

Phil wakes up late, having worn himself out running a baldness marathon the day before. He rejects Claire's suggestion of chores to go trampolining with his son. However, he is soon distracted by his banjo. Yes, Phil plays the banjo. Oh, you are not surprised. To his utter devastation, he learns that Claire does not like his music. Opening credits.

At Gloria and Jay's, we learn that Cam is singing "Memory" in a faculty charity show, while Gloria is quitting soap operas and Jay smoking. Mitch mentions that Lily's off at scout camp (I was ready to cheer at the lack of gender conformity when I remembered that, for some freakish reason, you Yanks call Girl Guides "girl scouts"), where based on a photograph with some possible body language (they had a system worked out), he decides she's terribly unhappy. Time for Operation Break Lily Out of Scout Camp to happen, even though everyone else thinks Mitchell's being an idiot. So Mitchell pretends he's going to the office, and Jay pretends to go with him, mostly because he needs a smoke.

Haley's having a whale of a time at this concert which is totally not Coachella, but Alex is obsessed with checking her phone. Exasperated, Haley decides to loosen her sister up and hands her a drink. Strait-laced Alex fearfully inquires as to whether it contains alcohol. In a cutaway, she explains her life philosophy, which essentially amounts to this:

simpsons_-_to_alcohol_-_blk_mens_cu

Soon enough Alex is full party animal, and Haley decides that it's a qualified success. Now wait until she accidentally pukes all over the Harvard admissions committee.

Home from work, Phil is stunned to discover Luke, in his room, playing the banjo beautifully while Claire looks on with a smile. Proud, but more than a little jealous, he struggles to keep his composure in the face of talent he will never have.

Gloria and Cam head to the school to prepare for the Faculty Follies. Cam claims it's about the kids, not him, but this swiftly changes when he discovers that nemesis Senor Kaplan has also signed up to sing "Memory". They immediately get into an argument about who gets to keep it. Cam gives it up because he sang it last year. The faculty watching nearby approve his selflessness. Kaplan is suspiciously willing to take the song, though (and being from Canada, he should refuse it at least twice - anyone who doesn't gets beaten by sticks under the Rob Ford Laws of 2012). Gloria, desperate for drama in the absence of her soaps, is riveted to the unfolding situation. Cam totally calls her out on it. However, he is much more perturbed by the change in program than he admits. (Also, what's with this obsession with Memory? No one has thought about any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in like, the past decade.)

Desperate to get back on familiar territory, Phil takes Luke to the trampoline to teach him the famous "Dunphy tuck". Unfortunately, he fails at it. Multiple times. I'm waiting for next week's episode, "Phil Is Six Feet Under". To his chagrin, when Luke tries it out, he executes the tuck perfectly. When Claire asks why he seems exhausted, he denies all negative feeling. Soon enough, Claire catches on. Slyly, she asks Phil to assign Luke some household tasks that require "muscle". Phil immediately jumps to take them over.

Cam's new aim is to kill Senor Kaplan with kindness, which doesn't really go far, since Kaplan is so busy lapping up attention from everyone around him. All of Cam's attempts seem to backfire, either causing the man insult or injury. Kaplan yells that he can't go on and Cam should take his place.

Phil is starting to wear himself out with all the chores, so Claire summons Luke. Phil vehemently protests. He goes to tell his son to turn the banjo music down, but is surprised to see a bra sticking out from under Luke's pillow. Oh, boy, is Luke a secret transvestite? Or does he have a girlfriend, maybe? Phil angrily gives him a lecture about living by the household rules and grabs the banjo - whereupon its G-string snaps and hits him in the eye. I assume that means he's blinded for life? Ouch.

Haley appears to have misplaced her sister, which is a cause of concern. Claire calls at that moment. Haley babbles to try and cover it up. She winds up blurting out the whole story, but Claire, focused on her computer, is not listening. It turns out that Alex didn't get into Harvard, which Claire knows will be devastating. Just then, she clues into what Haley's saying and begins a Mom Freakout. Fortunately, a security guard appears to have found Alex - having the time of her life onstage.

Mitch arrives at Lily's camp and goes to find her. Jay waits by the car, smoking in an orange jumpsuit (which will apparently take the smoke smell off him by the time he gets home). Hilarious misunderstanding in the works? I guess so. When Jay questions Mitch's venture, the ginger recounts a miserable experience at theatre camp, from which Jay never rescued him. Jay claims this was meant to teach him how to cope with tough situations. Mitch stomps off ranting about reliability, but Jay fits in one last snarky comment.

Luke will apparently keep his eye, and - as a bonus! - an all-encompassing rage towards his father. Phil gloomily reflects that today marks the first time he saw his son as a man - the day he was finally surpassed. Luke says he's not really a man like Phil thinks. It has to do with the bra, of course. Phil is surprised but supportive. And no, he doesn't have it for the reasons you think - it's to practice unhooking, which I think every straight lady can attest that all boys are notoriously bad at. Apparently, Luke's fumbling ways have been revealed to the school at large, and he's humiliated. Phil offers the requisite Dad advice, and all is well.

Haley finally manages to catch up to Alex, who is having the time of her life. (I hope she drops out to go follow the Grateful Dead with Kim Kelly, but that's just me.) When hearing that the whole family knows about Harvard, Alex goes into a rage, both about privacy and about how fucked the American university admissions system is. (And ladies and gentlemen, that is a severe level of fucked.) Haley, of all people, offers some words of wisdom - "You'll get into one of those snooty schools, and sometimes you're gonna come in second, or fourth, or maybe even tenth, but you're gonna...keep going." Right on, Haley.

Stressed out about the circumstances, Cam's performance goes very poorly. In tears, he recounts how the audience had already turned against him. Gloria tries to comfort him. This goes nowhere. She berates Kaplan for making everyone hate Cam, and ruining his performance. It turns out that "Memory" is well beyond Kaplan's abilities, and so he tried to get Cam to take it, not anticipating his attempt to be the bigger man. He gloats about Cam's failure. However, Gloria has a trick up her sleeve - she has turned up Kaplan's microphone, so everyone in the audience has heard it. Cue mob and pitchforks, etc. As the two men literally get into a catfight, Gloria pulls up a chair and grabs the popcorn.

For some reason, Mitch has stuck around at the summer camp until nighttime (this plotline has never been explained, wtf is going on). Of course, he's scared of the woods. He catches a glimpse of the campers, and realizes that Lily is happy, so he wisely decides to back out of this harebrained idea. Unfortunately, the girls hear something rustling in the bushes and decide to attack the creature with any weapons they have handy. Mitch is forced out in the open, probably getting Lily kicked out of her troop forever. The troop leader invites him to stay and tell ghost stories. Now, seven-year-olds are pretty easy to scare, but Mitchell is so irredeemably bland that he fails even at this. Nice going, boring boy.

Miraculously, Jay manages to scare the crap out of the kids just by appearing from the woods, and the girls scatter. As the troop leader runs off to gather them up, Jay admits that he made a mistake by not rescuing Mitch from camp all those years ago. Mitch counters that he was totally wrong about Lily. Jay comforts him, saying that at least one day he'll see Lily screw up parenting. They settle down to enjoy a cigar.

Luke loses all his depth perception with his bandaged eye. Claire, meanwhile, is altering Alex's celebratory Harvard teddy bear to read "Harvard sucks". However, Alex and Haley return in an excellent mood. Both Claire and Phil are gloomy, realizing that the children no longer need them. And as Boyhood prepares its plagiarism lawsuit, we end on that sad note.

Well - I really liked this. Mitch's plot was throwaway to the end, but Cam's was a great deal of (incredibly petty) fun, especially with Gloria's manipulation. Ultimately, all the storylines held realistic pathos, covering life moments that we can all understand - rejection, bullying, and botched trampoline flips. It wasn't terribly funny, with the exception of "Duelling Cats", but it worked. I must confess I'm baffled by the title - but the episode itself was a nice experience.

(Also, did they kill Manny? I think we need to know.)

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