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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.1 - Suddenly, Last Summer





No, this has nothing to do with the Tennessee Williams play of the same name, unless Cam and Mitch are more interesting than I thought. Yes, after cleaning up at the Emmys last weekend (how do they keep on winning?), we are back with Season 5 of the least divisive comedy on the air. I'm particularly interested in this season now that same-sex marriage is re-legal in California. Bet the writers thought that wouldn't happen. Will Cam and Mitch take the plunge? Will Haley act stupid? Will Gloria jiggle her bosom? Let's see. 

Ack, what is with all these double opening episodes? This is not the freakin' moon landing, guys. Seriously. Drives bloggers like me crazy.

We go to June. TV shows handle the summer break in many different ways. Community, being a show set around a school year, just ignores it (which makes it awkward when they come in mid-season). Mad Men doesn't give a crap, being awesome and all, and is perfectly happy to stick Christmas in the middle of July. Modern Family time travels. So Manny is packing for a trip to visit relatives in Colombia. Gloria is wailing about her little baby (isn't he like 15?), Jay is vaguely racist, everything's normal.

Cam comes in screaming "We won! We won!". Gloria (holding a seriously cute freakin' baby) wants to know what it's all about. Yup, gay marriage. Well, I was hoping it would come up this season, but I didn't expect to see it in the first five minutes! Squee! Best wedding ever? The guys are all lovey-dovey over the phone. Jay comes in and asks what happened. When he hears, he's all "Yeah congratulations", but is more concerned with the baby puking and Manny needing a birth certificate for his trip back (a passport doesn't suffice?). Asshat. Cam commiserates about letting your babies grow up. Manny is the only one with enough decency to congratulate him on the gay marriage thing. Upon hearing about gay marriage, the baby pukes again. Yup, that's Jay's kid all right. Manny and Jay leave to get a new copy of the birth certificate. 

New opening credits! Finally reflecting that the kids are growing up and Fulgencio Joe exists. Dang, Luke is looking old. Kids...they grow so fast.

Gloria asks Cam how it works between two men. At Cam's horrified reaction, she assures him she knows how that works, because she accidentally rented a movie called "Glen, Gary, Glen and Ross" once. No, she wants to know how a proposal with two grooms goes. Cam says they've talked about it but haven't decided, but Gloria tells him everyone must have a beautiful proposal. Despite her youth, she really is a mother-in-law, eh? She tells him her own unromantic proposal story. Jay is not the type for flowers and violins, let's put it that way.

We get a breaking-the-fourth wall tracking shot of Claire - unusual for this series - as she describes her home's similarities to a war zone. The kitchen is filled with smoke and the kids are arguing. Summer vacation used to be fun, but now it's destroying them all. Despite this, Phil is still wearing cutoff shorts. She wants a kid-free vacation. Phil is a little scared of her. They do some moving around of vacations, and boom! A week on their own. Now, to convince the kids to move their various activities...

Cam calls Gloria to tell her he's booked a romantic restaurant at sunset - partially because sunset's his best lighting. Mitchell calls. To hide his excitement, Cam sounds completely grouchy. Meanwhile, Mitchell has lost his wallet and needs to be bailed out at a coffee shop. This is another proposal gambit, right? RIGHT?

Sure enough, there is the ring box on the table. Cam happily abandons his plan and joins his boyfriend/soon-to-be-fiance at the table. Unfortunately, the place looks really unromantic, so he bolts. This was lucky - it turns out the "ring box" has tea in it and Mitchell really does need money.

Jay and Manny chose a bad time to arrive at City Hall, because there are dozens of gay couples lined up to get their marriage licenses. Jay grumbles about it, Manny suggests they just go home. He's scared of the trip, being a hypochondriac and general wuss. Jay says no, they already paid. Kiddo has to be drop-kicked out of the nest.

Claire arrives to bail Mitchell out, and her first question is if they're getting married now. Oh, boy, this family's really pushing things. Mitchell says maybe, going on about taxes and stuff, and Claire says bullshit. He should go home tonight, set a romantic scene and plan the best proposal ever. Unfortunately, all of Mitchell's ideas suck. Claire offers to help him out. Her plan - that he break up with him and propose, all in five minutes - is just as stupid. She then suggests the "I'm dying, oh wait no I'm not marry me" plan. Geez, these two really are alike. As Mitch walks out, Claire launches into her story of how she told Phil she was pregnant with Luke, starting with "Thousands of children die every day..."

Phil knocks on Alex's door, where he proceeds to flatter her with how proud he is of her volunteer work. Couldn't she just kind of move to Sacramento, please? He's never been so far from his little girl - is that a tear in his eye? Alex falls for it. He has a little less success with Luke, who wants to go to camp at the same time as a cute girl. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" doesn't work. Upon seeing how cute and sweet the girl is, he concedes. Instead, he tries bargaining with the girl's mother. Unfortunately, they too have been "working the whiteboard" to get kid-free time. They're stuck. Why they can't just leave him with relatives, or hell, on his own (he's 15!), I don't know.

At the airport, Manny is terrified of leaving. Gloria doesn't help by telling him to look out for Malaria and Rubella - his cousins. Who have diptheria. Jay pushes him through security, Gloria blubbers, Manny hands Jay a card to give to her. Lily is with them, and Jay uses her as a distraction to go get ice cream before Gloria falls to pieces completely. "What if he never comes back?" Lily asks, with great timing as usual, pointing out that she did once. Isn't that a lot for a five-year-old to pick up on?

Now Phil has taken the opposite tack, sending Alex to yet another volunteering experience in El Salvador. She protests, even knowing it will look good on her college transcripts, because the country is a hot mess right now and just - no. He tells her that if she goes to a second-rate college, she will lose all ambition and seek out an MRS degree (Haley conveniently walks by to illustrate this). Alex grabs the brochures, fast. Now it's time to work on Haley's beach trip. She knows exactly what's going on, and in exchange for moving her trip, demands that Phil pay for everything. He says no, he'd rather cancel her trip entirely, tanking her social life FOREVER. Alex walks by as he's saying this. Haley rethinks things.

Cam and Mitch tell us how excited they are for their respective proposals, unaware that their serious lack of communication is going to screw them both over very soon. They arrive at the restaurant, and immediately Mitchell figures out what's going on. Instead of being a petty bastard like the last four seasons, he's totally delighted - and frustrated. If this fails, he'll never be romantic, ever.  He fakes the flu to try to get home. Over a quick phone call to Claire, he tries to move the proposal up a couple of hours, while Claire's excuses get increasingly ghoulish. Cam, meanwhile, is on the phone to Gloria, who is both babysitting Lily and helping him with his backup plan - a romantic picnic reminiscent of their early relationship. Jay, Gloria, Lily and Joe dash over to Cam and Mitchell's to set up. Just then, Phil and Claire walk in to help get ready for Mitchell. After some mutual "awwing" over their shared purpose, the family works together (and agrees to hide in the room to observe how it turns out, since it obviously won't all go to hell or anything). Jay says this confusion is what happens when men are allowed to marry men, and the baby pukes once more. But just as Mitch and Cam are about to arrive home - they blow a tire.

Gloria's going on about a beautiful proposal, which devolves into an argument about Jay's lacklustre proposal. Turns out Manny jumped the gun and handed him the ring instead of the remote, which was what he really wanted. He had a big beautiful moment planned, and had to skip it. Gloria is overcome with delight. They turn off the lights to show that Jay has stuck little glow-in-the-dark stars over the walls and ceiling. I  tear up a bit, because dammit, this episode might be the cutest thing I've ever seen, and I saw Niles Crane propose to Daphne.

Phil is also in tears, having watched Dirty Dancing beforehand. Just then, his dad texts. He wants Phil to visit - during Kid-Free week. This is Claire's fault, having "accidentally" told him about it. A kid-and-husband free week is tops. The conversation turns to Phil's proposal, when Claire was hungover (and pregnant, if I recall earlier seasons correctly). Phil, however, remembers only how great it all was. He even saved the ticket from the red light he ran on the way. He lights the fireplace, puts on romantic music - and wins Claire over. She confesses her vacation gambit. He assures her she is a romantic person, too - just as Claire's mom texts to say Phil suggested they have a visit.

Cam and Mitchell (mostly Cam) have fixed the tire, and they remember a trip they took together in their pre-kid days when something similar happened. As they get sentimental, they begin to talk about how much things have changed, especially in the past 24 hours - and the tire rolls away, where it is implied to have destroyed a house. They both admit it's not the way they hoped the night would go. Mitchell brings up the subject of their first apartment. Right there, under the stars, he gets down on one knee - and Cam does too, assuming they're going to wrestle with the tire again. Then he looks up, realizes what it is. Without anyone having to ask, they both say yes. CFK bursts into tears.

As Jay and Gloria get home, Gloria notices Manny's letter. Jay assures her that Manny's okay. Gloria looks at the letter without really reacting. Jay picks it up, sees the "make sure you take care of Jay" part - and begins to sniffle. We close on this charming scene.

Best episode of Modern Family in several seasons, and one we've been waiting for since the beginning. Proposal scenes can get really hokey, and gay marriage is not all that new in the world of TV - but dammit, something about Cam and Mitch just get you. The Dunphy storyline was weaker but had some laughs, and Jay and Gloria were sweet, but tonight belongs to the newly engaged, and so it should. Congratulations, California, and congratulations to TV's favorite dorky gay dads. You've earned the most fabulous wedding a hefty TV budget can buy.


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  • Posts

    • Bluebirdbluebell


      6 hours ago, no fun funddie said:

      Am I the only one who found it strange that when the ‘Bowers Girls’ are mentioned by Hayley Lina isn’t in the photos. I think Hayley mentioned Lina in relation to how her and Carver first interaction with Cass. I can understand if Lina didn’t want to be photographed but it does seem a little like she’s ignoring her by praising the others. IMG_0179.thumb.jpeg.2bd1581e92ea5b491ace4e7a73da8265.jpeg

      I agree. I also think it's weird she's deciding who the "Bower girls" are, but then I hate the gender politics around last names anyway.

    • marmalade


      5 minutes ago, dawn9476 said:

      Was it known that Hannah was having a 2nd? I know social media is private, but it seems like stuff still comes out despite that.

      Wasn't she seen pregnant at Nurie's tea party? I am pretty sure she was seen somehow.

    • dawn9476

      Posted (edited)

      Was it known that Hannah was having a 2nd? I know her social media is private, but it seems like stuff still comes out despite that.

      Edited by dawn9476
    • JermajestyDuggar


      Yet another trip. She’s just like Jill Rod in this way. She never wants to be home with her kids. 


      • Upvote 1
    • nelliebelle1197


      14 hours ago, postscript said:

      Thank you for moving this. Kelly, like Karissa Collins, is one who I’ve resisted following, even though some of the Facebook groups talk about her endlessly. But the horrifying birth story, followed by the over-the-top fable accompanied by carefully composed pictures of Kelly looking spiritual (seriously, where does she find the time? She has a new baby and two small kids!), sucked me in. She is weird in a completely different flavor than others we follow.

      One of her posts has a link to the retreat. Among agenda items - “time with baby Theresa” and the ability to try on and purchase prairie dresses made by Kelly. Does she really have followers who will go for this, or is it just going to be her and her besties admiring each other? 

      She is selling time with her baby? What the hell?

      • Upvote 1
      • Haha 1

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