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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 4.22 - My Hero





Odd, that heroes have become such a theme in sitcoms of recent weeks. I’m sorry for the late Modern Family recap, but will try to have The Big Bang Theory and Community (ack, final episode) up by tomorrow. May also add a book review once the current TV Seasons have mostly finished (in other words, next week). I won’t say what, but will tell you to get your pirate gear and colanders ready. Back on topic, we are watching the second-last episode of Modern Family Season 4. Will Phil do something stupid? Will Cam and Mitchell fight over nothing? Will Gloria jiggle her boobs? My breath is bated.

Cam complains that their Prius (ooh, trendy) has a million features but doesn’t open on command. Pardon me while I cry a little. Suddenly, Mitch spots Teddy, who is clearly important enough for Cam to have heard of him. Ex-boyfriend? This is confirmed in an interview where Cam explains that Mitch only had one significant relationship before him, with Teddy the doctor. Turns out Mitch kind of dumped him unceremoniously ten years back. Oops. He was also an extremely sensitive guy at the time, saying that he couldn’t love another person if he didn’t love himself – which Cam finds freakin’ adorable. Dr. Teddy invites them to a hospital fundraiser at a local roller rink, because that’s totally not going to go badly at all. Is it just me, or is his laugh eerily like Phil’s?

After they leave, Cam assures Mitchell that Teddy seems like a great guy, and he’s not threatened by meeting him, especially since it was so long ago. Riiiight. He attributes it to being gay – apparently it’s way easier for gay guys to be buddies with exes than straight couples. Stereotyping aside, I’ll buy that – Ford knows my ex-girlfriends are some of my closest buddies. Mitchell says they’re still friends with Pepper, which we all know Cam is sensitive about – but they won’t quit teasing him, with Lily’s “Daddy loves Pepper!†leading into the opening credits.

Over at Jay and Gloria’s, Manny explains to Claire (who is babysitting for her stepbrother and baby brother, awwww)  about his “My Hero†project that needs to be done for school. Gloria and Jay return from dinner, thrilled from getting a free meal thanks to the classic hair-in-the-soup trick, and possibly a bit tipsy. This prompts Manny to cross her off the list of potential heroic subjects. Jay launches onto another topic. One of his employees has been caught stealing, which is doubly too bad because he was the heir apparent for the entire company. Since there’s a position open, would Claire be interested in the job?

Waaaait a minute. Okay, Jay, Claire is a very capable person, and she does have some business background, but she’s been out of the workforce for ages. What makes you think she can jump right in at the company? Aren’t there tons of better-qualified people out there? Nepotism, nepotism! Ah, well, at least it gives Claire something new to try.

Baby Joe is really flippin’ cute. I just think that needs to be said, repeatedly.

Claire voices some of the above objections, saying that she worked for him a very long time ago and doesn’t know if – Jay cuts her off and tells her that she was fantastic while there, and he would be glad to have her back. They’ll start her off at a less gruelling position, but there’s room to advance. And Gloria is definitely wasted. Claire suggests that everyone think it over, so Jay agrees. After handing over her baby brother, Claire really has a lot to think about.

Haley complains to Alex that she keeps getting brochures from local community colleges. She is decidedly not impressed by any of her options. Okay, I know it’s cross-network, but Greendale? Please? Even one webisode would make me collapse with laughter. Phil interrupts to say that Claire’s on her way back with dinner. Haley unconvincingly pretends that she never received any pamphlet, because that will lead to nagging. Fortunately, Claire gets home, interrupting the standoff, and tells them all about Jay’s offer. (It’s then revealed that they know Haley’s been throwing them out all along – who does she think empties the trash?) Claire is not entirely thrilled with the idea of working for her dad. He’s apparently a really mean boss. She can’t handle constantly disappointing him, like the four times before when she disappointed him – but she names only three before quickly leaving the room and a confused Phil.

Cam, Mitch and Lily arrive at the fundraiser. Cam assures his boyfriend that Teddy does not make him feel bad at all – until Teddy shows up and is positively great with Lily, to the point where she wants him with her at all times. A little miffed but trying to save face, Cam graciously steps aside. He is surprised to see the Dunphy kids, followed shortly by their parents, all of whom apparently know Teddy. At the same time, Jay and Gloria show up – which is a problem for Claire, as she has been avoiding him all day.

Cam is increasingly unable to tolerate Teddy’s seemingly perfect fit with his family, watching him intrude without ever intending to. He finally snaps at Mitchell, pointing out that the entire Pritchett family is there at Teddy’s request. Mitchell points out that he only invited everyone on his contact list, which does little to pacify Cam. Mitchell tries to turn it around by saying he’s flattered. This also doesn’t work. Shit.

Gloria has been making excuses to stay off the rink the whole time. Phil prompts her to join them. When she demurs, he figures it out – she’s too proud to admit she can’t skate. “It’s a good thing we’re not married,†she says, admitting she can never lie to Phil’s face. The crestfallen expression Phil sports is one for the ages. She’s scared of being humiliated on the rink. Immediately, Phil offers to teach her, furthering my theory that he is just an extension of Hal from Malcolm in the Middle.



Haley and Alex join Manny at a side table. When two cute boys approach, they immediately make an excuse to get rid of him. After being crossed off Manny’s hero list, they settle down to get acquainted.

Teddy and Claire skate together. When Teddy comments on her skill, she mentions that she used to work there. “You’re the Claire from the bathroom?†he repeats. Cam skates up to say that it might be nice to get reconnected after all these years. Claire mentions that it’s only been a month since they saw each other last. Cam is clearly miffed that Teddy is still so firmly in their lives, but is interrupted when Jay yells to Claire that she owes him a phone call. She immediately skates away. Jay takes the opportunity to remind Teddy that he still owes him money over a golf bet. Ouch. Cam’s lips purse. When Teddy confesses he’s not sure if Gloria likes him, Cam can hardly keep the delight off his face.

Meanwhile, the girls are talking with the boys about a movie I’m pretty sure is Skyfall, but Alex is having a hard time hiding her nerdiness. Haley drags her to the bathroom for a quick girl lesson. “Flirting with guys is about increasing your value, not decreasing theirs,†she tells her sister, then advises her not to be so mean.

Manny and Luke gather, where the latter confesses that he’s having difficulty with his family, and thus the project. Manny offers to listen, and complains that it’s too bad he’s not related to Teddy – he’s great. “Isn’t he?†says Cam, walking by. Turns out the hero project has forced Manny to rethink things about his crazy family. Huh.

Phil is teaching Gloria how to skate, and it’s not going well – she’s stiff and awkward and anxious, and eventually falls right into Teddy’s arms. Cam watches, and finally storms out. He finds solace in a punching bag game. Mitchell notices and concludes that they need to talk. He pulls Mitch aside and assures them that there are no lingering feelings. Cam says it’s not him, it’s his family. Mitch denies all knowledge of their contact. Should he ask them to break up with Teddy? Cameron claims he’s not asking, but it would be great if Mitchell did instead. Mitchell understandably thinks that’s unreasonable. “I have worked myself to the bone to get these jumpy Protestants to love me,†Cam protests. A woman comes up then and tells him that he won a prize for setting a record on the punching game. Before leaving with a giant pink teddy bear to take a picture for the Wall of Fame, he makes it clear to Mitch that this is not over.

Okay, public service announcement: asking people to stop being friends with your exes is really shitty, unless you have evidence that they are harmful. Cam, get rid of your butthurt and do some skating.

In the middle rest area, Gloria is so anxious that she has the “nervous burpsâ€. Phil offers to take her outside and practice somewhere hidden. Jay confronts Claire, forcing her to give an answer – way to treat someone, buddy – just as Mitchell skates up to them and asks them to stop seeing Teddy. “Toldya,†says Phil, and Claire immediately figures out this is Cam talking. It’s Manny who makes the most sense, though, declaring that of course they can love Teddy and Cam at the same time, and Mitchell “sold Cam out†by even pretending that they had to choose. Finally, someone says something sane.

Just then, an announcement comes over the intercom, saying that there’s a fire in the kitchen and they must evacuate the rink. Cam gestures from his exit, trying to lead them to safety. At the same time, Teddy gestures from his exit, which is closer. The family is caught between them. In the interests of safety, they take the closer exit, though Mitchell remains loyal to Cam. They leave the middle part just in time for the intercom to declare that the fire’s out. Okay then. At the result, Cam declares that this is the saddest he’s ever been in roller skates.

Out in the parking lot, Phil is slowly guiding Gloria around on her skates. She is awkward and clings to Phil, twisting his arm badly. Lots of screeching follows from both of them. Cut to Phil fixing someone’s side mirror and suggesting that they get away from the cars, turning in time to reveal a mirror-shaped gouge on his face.

A guy named Jeff recognizes Claire from their time working there. After decades, he is still at the roller rink – “if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your lifeâ€. Since a skater has barfed on the track, he needs someone to take the register for a few minutes. After some hesitation, she agrees. The grateful manager tells her that “I still think about that kiss.†Julie Bowen has such a perfect shellshocked face. Quickly, she washes out her mouth.

Just then, Luke comes up to the register and tells her he threw up. While his mother makes him a soft drink, he tells her that he’s really stressed about the hero essay. Phil thinks Luke wrote it about him, Luke didn’t, and things are about to get awkward fast. Claire says she’s sure Phil will understand, then comes up to say that a) he needs ice for Cameron (huh?) and B) they must talk about the job. When he goes away, she suggests that she talk to Phil, which is when Luke reveals that he wrote the essay about her. There’s so much great about his dad, but to him Claire is a hero in every way. The stress gets to him again and Claire, stunned by his revelation, sits him down before another incident can occur.

With this in mind, Claire confronts her father, telling him that their previous workplace experience was tense. Jay doesn’t remember anything of the sort. Considering the way he behaved (insensitive and condescending), and the way he continues to behave in daily interaction (insensitive and condescending), she doesn’t think they should work together. He says fine, but he’s very disappointed – leaving Claire looking kind of unsure.

Haley, Alex and the two boys are at the air hockey table. The girls win and cheer about it. The boys think it’s “unmasculatingâ€, but perk up when Alex tells them they look cool playing and offer to have another game. Haley says they need to hang out with their family and drags Alex away. When Alex questions this, she explains that they both did great and the guys liked them, but point was to get Alex confidence, not pick up “guys who can’t lose to a girl without getting emasculated.†Nicely done, Haley Dunphy. Between the tooth fairy debacle and this, I think you have unsuspected depth. Alex tells her sister that “Sometimes you’re really smart.†It’s a sweet moment, though Haley promises to throw it in Alex’s face someday.

Claire has decided to drink away her uncertainty over the Jay situation, using the hidden stash of beer that Jeff has kept there for decades. She recaps a long list of situations where she felt crushed. All the time, she gives out an order to some teens with effortless expertise. Oh, man, I think I know where this is going. However, Claire skates away to talk to her dad, leaving him behind.

We find out what the ice was for – Cameron fell and injured his wrist. Not to worry, Dr. Teddy’s on the case! Lily demands that he come skating with her, but she means Teddy, hurting Cam’s pride further. He lets her go, though, looking utterly forlorn. Jay walks up, commenting that he’s a good guy, but he did not bring out the best in Mitchell. In fact, Mitch was a bit of a jerk at the time. Though Jay was a bit relieved to see the relationship end, he just wanted Mitchell to be happy – like he is now. From the beginning, they knew Cam was The One. Jay saves the day once again. Claire overhears this as she clears away garbage, and gets a thunderstruck look on her face. Tears come both to her and to Cam. As some sentimental music starts up, Jay tells Cam he’s not skating with him – but when Claire steps up and offers, he forgets his embarrassment and accepts. Awww.

As Haley and Alex giggle and skate together, Cam smiles on the bench, Claire accepts the job while skating with Jay, Teddy and Mitch hold Lily’s hands, and Gloria is confident enough in her skating to pants Phil on the rink, Manny narrates about what makes a hero. Someone one can look up to, who is generous and able to grow. Luke films them with a laugh, presumably in his quest to have a viral YouTube hit. Manny concludes that “the hero in my family is my family – who we are togetherâ€. Ugh, I think that line just about gave me diabetes. In her room, later that night, Haley picks up a community college pamphlet. Alex smiles to herself. The camera switches to an interview sequence, where Manny reveals that he got a C-. And quite right, too.

Closing credits: Everyone applauds Cam as his photo is placed on the Wall of Fame. Gloria wonders what happened, and Cam jumps at another chance to recall his great triumph. Mitchell rolls his eyes, but lovingly. The whole family looks bored as hell, but they listen because they love him. Awww. He finishes just in time for Teddy to break his record on the first punch. Cam says Mitchell is never to see him again. Drama, so much drama.

Okay, so the Cameron-Mitchell storyline was ridiculous. I can’t stand people who get pissy about exes, and make ridiculous demands, so maybe this is just a pet peeve, but the whole thing felt mean-spirited. These guys are all about petty bullshit, and it’s getting tiresome. Will someone please give them better stories? Gloria and Phil were fun for filler, and the kids were little more than tag scenes. However, the Jay and Claire story really did resonate. I like how they’ve been trying to develop Claire this season, and trying to introduce a dual-income household. It might be interesting to see her in a workplace environment, if they stick with it. One more episode left this season – I wonder what’s up for them next?



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