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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.5 - The Late Show





Zany antics! Uncomfortable stereotypes! The ability to cringe, laugh and say "aww" all at once! Ladies and gentlemen - Modern Family!

We open to a split-screen of Jay, Mitchell and Phil talking to their spouses (or future spouse in one case). Everyone is running late for stuff and trying to regroup.

Phil is taking his wife for a date - much to his kids' horror. He's also extremely convinced of his sexiness, and has a nice suit to prove it. Claire arrives, stressed out from her job and annoyed with the kids. Haley is late for babysitting Joe. A niece babysitting her uncle - oh, boy, this family is topsy-turvy! (Never mind that my nephew totally looked after me on occasion.) She and Alex bitch at each other and prove that every Dunphy is an awful person. Claire flips out that Luke is being left home alone. HE'S 15. COME ON. This non-drama leads us into the opening credits.

Mitch and Cam are also getting ready to go out, Haley the babysitter running late as usual (is she looking after them both?). Cam whines about save-the-date cards, Mitch is insecure about what his dad thinks. They use the word "ducking" as a euphemism a lot. Everyone's running late like a Friends episode. Of course, Cam has to have a freakin' dance number to get dressed (no really, Lily has control of the tape deck and everything), because his character hasn't gotten overblown in five seasons at all.

...meanwhile, Jay is looking forward to an awesome steak. So what, you go on a triple date with your kids and their spouses now? How romantic. We get to the latest Problem-of-The-Week-which-will-never-be-mentioned-again, which is that Gloria is not very punctual. It drives Jay crazy. Okay?

Phil protests that Luke can be left home alone, citing the time they left Alex home at 10. This is crushed when Claire points out that they didn't leave her, they forgot her. Claire decides to test Luke on his survival skills. Unfortunately, he fails pretty badly.

Cam and Mitch leave Alex to babysit Lily. Okay, who is babysitting who here? Lily wants to play dolls. Alex offers to read her Little Women instead, but the moment the word "patriarchy" comes out of her mouth, Lily loses interest. Yeah, great way to get a six-year-old's attention. Anyway, Alex is just about dying, especially when Lily introduces her dolls. "This is Ashley. She's a wife." Fortunately, they are distracted when Cam and Mitch walk out having dressed in exactly the same outfit. Again. Cam chalks this up to the fact that men have fewer choices when going out. Lily mediates their "who is getting changed" argument like a champ, though she misquotes Bette Davis in the process. She draws the line at "Who Wore It Best". Alex also refuses, saying she doesn't understand clothes, which earns her a look of disdain from her six-year-old cousin.

Jay is mad at Manny for being sarcastic all the time, so he's sarcastic right back. Haley calms things down by remembering what a good grandpa Jay was when she was little.  Gloria comes downstairs, is not praised enough for her good looks, and gets snippy at her husband. Sigh. Fortunately, Haley smooths it over again - but makes the mistake of suggesting that she change earrings. Upstairs Gloria goes. Jay mutters about being late again. Haley goes to assist her. Since she's probably babysitting a demon-possessed child, I would say maybe leave her some Holy water or something.

Claire teaches Luke the difference between the smoke alarm and the doorbell, and asks him not to drink anything from under the sink. Jesus Christ, the kid is 15. He was never this stupid before. I'm banging my head against the table. Parents like Claire are the bane of my existence as a teacher. But that's another story. While she leaves earthquake instructions, it accidentally slips out that Luke had a cabinet slip on him during the last quake, waaayyy back in Season 2. She's horrified. Phil ushers her out of the house. However, they are forced to stop when Claire mentions she isn't 100% behind Phil's suit...

Cam and Mitch decide they will both change. They dither and argue and soon the evening is ruined. Then Cam starts crying about his mother, Mitch accuses him of faking it, and everything gets worse. We cut to Alex desperately trying to get her cousin interested in Little Women. Lily is having none of it. Her idea of fun? Putting makeup on Alex. Cam and Mitch have sorted out their suit problem (Mitchell changed) and get ready to go. Cam decides to have a can of soda for the road, though, and as he opens it, the thing sprays all over him. Everyone gasps, except Lily, who laughs. Cam then accuses Mitchell of shaking the can. Lily advises Alex to pretend to color and ignore them. Back to the drawing board.

Phil and Claire continue to argue about Luke, especially since he isn't picking up the phone. Claire is convinced something's wrong. They hurry home, where Luke attacks his mother with a paintball gun as she trips over the tin-can booby trap. Yeah, that didn't backfire at all. Claire seems furious with him, never considering that it's about 90% her fault for scaring the crap out of him in the first place.

Jay is still waiting for Gloria, and getting grumpier by the second. Manny makes Oedipal remarks. Haley finally brings Stepgrandma downstairs. She's apologetic, but Jay is still bitching, of course. She says she has to do one more thing, and Jay gets into a rant about wasting everyone's time. Cut to the hostess telling them they can't be seated until everyone's there. Huh? That's a thing?

Jay and Gloria take the time to argue about her lack of punctuality, even though, you know, they still managed to be the first ones there. Okay, Gloria gets down to it and admits that she likes to make an interest. It makes her feel pretty and liked. Well, I actually like this line. A lot of people like to be admired, and it's downright honest to hear something like this. Considering that Gloria rarely has any characterization to speak of - I'll take this one and run with it. Jay grouches, though. I swear his heart must be two sizes too small.

Cam and Mitch arrive, with the latter stealing the former's shirt. Cam vows to get him for it later, but they are interrupted by Gloria's arrival at the table. (Yep, she deliberately arranged to be away until they came. Okay, there's being honest and then there's being obsessive.) Claire and Phil come in arguing about Luke's precious mortality. As Phil steps out of the car, he falls over because his foot is asleep. Ty Burrell slapstick!

The hostess informs them that if the others don't arrive soon, the reservation will be cancelled. Cam and Mitch start to fight about Suitgate and have to leave just as Phil and Claire walk in. Of course, with the new arrivals, Gloria has to make a new entrance. They mention that since Luke was scared, they dropped him off at Jay and Gloria's place. Cut to Haley and the boys having a karaoke night that would make Cam proud. "Midnight Train to Georgia", indeed.

Cam and Mitch have the same argument they've been having the whole season (if not the whole series). Once again, it's focused on the wedding. Someone's a control freak, someone has bad taste, blah blah blah blah blah. Eventually they reconcile, but Cam blows it by asking if Mitch did shake the can - and upon hearing the refusal, asking again. Bleargh.

Jay talks about how they let Manny stay home all the time. This prompts Phil to remark on Claire always having to be right, and they leave to argue - you guessed it - just as Cam and Mitch return.

Alex continues to read Little Women as Lily does her hair. She finally gives up, much to Lily's relief. To her surprise, Lily's hair skills are actually good, and she gives in and asks for makeup. Lily advises her to stay put and runs off gleefully. Just like her daddy!

Heh. Claire and Phil, much like Cam and Mitch, are both rocking suits. I like it. Okay, so Claire and Phil have they same argument they've been having the past five seasons. Control freak, cavalier with safety, you don't trust me, blah blah blah blah blah. Phil says he feels he's a good dad, but he never gets any good feedback from her on anything. She didn't even notice his new suit. Chastened, Claire assures him that she trusts him - and that he looks hot in his suit. He tells her to be careful, "this suit can't get any tighter." GASP! Did Modern Family just make a risque joke? I think I died a little.

Just as Phil and Claire return, the hostess snippily informs them that she gave away the table. Enter Queen Gloria, who insists that her husband has been waiting for this steak for months, and if there's any justice in this world, he will get it, dammit! Awesome. I love when Gloria gets cause-y. Cut to Jay saying he had the best meal of his life...after they got kicked out of the restaurant and opted for tacos from a food truck instead. As a devoted food truck lover, I am forced to agree!

The adults have a great dinner on the sidewalk, Mitch and Cam and Phil and Claire and Jay have a "best suit" contest (until Phil's rips right off when he bends over). "Midnight Train to Georgia" starts up on the truck radio. They get into their own karaoke session.

Tag scene - Cam brings Mitch a can of soda. He is immediately suspicious. Cam says he did nothing that Mitch didn't do first. He waits. Things get tense. Mitch finally admits that he shook the soda. Cam is vindicated - especially when he opens the soda himself, and nothing happens. Well played.

So yeah, this was basically a Modern Family version of that episode of Friends, "The One Where No One Is Ready". What the hell, though, it was serviceable. The ending was a whole lot of fun and the building circumstances that led to it were played out well. However, Modern Family desperately needs to throw a wrench into its comedic works. Sure, we all love the characters, but at the same time, the "couple dynamics" are getting overplayed and tired. Why not bring out some multigenerational stuff instead? It would be way more fun.  Loved Lily and Alex together, plus the Haley/Gloria interaction. Tonight's episode was a good time, though, and really - we can't ask for more than that.

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