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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.6 - The Help


crazyforkate

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blog-thehelp.jpg 

thehelp

No, I'm pretty sure this is not a movie with Viola Davis and Emma Stone, but you never know. I'd watch out if anyone serves pie.

We get part 2 of Gloria is Frivolous (see: having to make an entrance last week), as she confesses that she fired several nannies in a row because she prefers to be the only woman in the house. Thank God she had two sons. Jay is getting fed up with her diva antics, and only hopes that this one will work out so he can get out of taking  Fulgencio Joe to the park. Priorities!

Of course, it doesn't help that Manny has hit on all of the nannies so far. As Jay notes, "There's an embarrassing press conference in that kid's future."

We shift abruptly to Cam and Mitch talking about their wedding (wow, pre-credits shift, that's strange). The date is fast approaching...well, except that the grooms can't quite agree on a date. April is too cold, May is too hot, are you fucking crazy? It's California, you are SPOILED when it comes to weather. Call me after a January wedding in Winnipeg.

Anyway, to solve their dilemma, they have sought the help of a wedding planner. Pepper, to be exact. Yes, it's PEPPER. Nathan Lane is back! I squealed like a 12-year-old when I saw him, I must admit. Nathan Lane brightens up anything he's part of. Oh, this is going to be fun!

Pepper wastes no time in taking charge, bringing fabric swatches and place settings and even attempting to redecorate their living room. He is accompanied by a handsome Hispanic assistant, and I immediately flashback to The Birdcage, which was such an awesome movie and gaaaawwwd Nathan Lane. Opening credits.

Surprise, surprise, Haley and Alex are fighting. Apparently, the Dunphys actually made a smart parenting choice for once and let Haley move into the basement for privacy. However, Phil's dad, Frank (Fred Willard) has invited himself up for the weekend. Since he's newly widowed and all, they can hardly say no.

At the playground, Gloria observes a cute young man (Adam Devine) who seems great with kids. They get to chatting, and she discovers that he's a male nanny, or manny (I predict a Manny the son/manny the nanny joke in about 30 seconds). His name is Andy, and he doesn't seem too happy in his current position. When Gloria hears that he helped his employer's husband lose thirty pounds, well, the decision is made. Andy is getting a new job whether he likes it or not.

Pepper is going to help Cam and Mitch do what every engaged couple longs to do - pull off the wedding that makes everyone else jealous. There are fancy place settings, color schemes, the whole nine yards. I'm disappointed that there isn't a musical number from it. Dropped the ball there, guys. You had Nathan Lane and seriously did nothing?! Cam and Mitch are alternately delighted and horrified by the suggestions. Pepper is destroyed by their slightest criticism, manipulating them like the over-dramatic jackass he is.  I've got to say, I'm a bit tired of the rather stereotypical throwback that is Pepper Saltzman. Not even Nathan Lane can make him more than a flat character. The happy couple have no choice but to hang in there, even when Pepper insists that they ride in on a unicorn...

Frank seems out of sorts, not wanting to interact with his grandchildren. Claire's worried about him, and suggests a therapist - or maybe her dad. They get Jay on the line, who thinks Frank just needs to get out more. Suddenly, a night on the town is set up for Phil, Jay and Frank - or as Phil calls it, "a three-way". The seasons may come and go, but Phil Dunphy will always be awkward.

Jay and Manny arrive home only to be blindsided by Andy, who introduces himself as the "new Manny" HAR HAR HAR. Gloria introduces him as Joe's manny. Okay, he's a nanny. A nanny is a nanny is a nanny no matter what the gender, you eejits. Jay is not pleased with the development, despite Andy's assurances that he will improve their lives like some kind of Mary Poppins/Richard Simmons hybrid. He'll healthy them up fast, starting with making Manny go upstairs about fifty times. Okay, Andy, you are officially awful and I'm so glad you're probably going to last one episode only.

Manny doesn't fall for the new fitness regime. He and Jay throw the man out, then go after Gloria for hiring him. "He's like Phil, only I have to pay him!" Jay complains. They decide to have a vote. Gloria always has Manny on her side, but on this issue he is resolved. Andy will not be working for the Pritchett-Delgados. Gloria storms off and refuses to make them dinner (HA HA MEN CAN'T COOK ISN'T THAT FUNNY - god, the gender stereotypes in this episode suck). Modern family indeed.

Now sporting purple hats, Cam and Mitchell try to make sense of Pepper's pitch. Naturally, this offends their buddy, who runs away in a huff. They consider firing him, but the assistant Renaldo begs them not to. Since gay marriage's return, Pepper has been going crazy planning all the new weddings. Indeed, it's doubly hard because both grooms care about the wedding, rather than just the bride. Okay, so there's no gay couple on earth where at least one of them is bored silly by this shit? Riiight. "The gays" gets thrown around a lot. Ugh. They say that it's true, they're both too invested in the wedding and have very different ideas...which leads to them instantly getting suckered into Renaldo's pitch.

This presents a problem - they are basically wedding-cheating on Pepper, a "great artist" who will not stand for his assistant going rogue. Everyone is horrified and tries to turn back the clock - but it's too late. The dream of a perfect wedding is within their reach. Oh, the humanity! (Stereotypes notwithstanding, this scene actually is kind of funny.)

Jay, Frank and Phil are having their night out, with Jay and Phil acting as reluctant wingmen. They crash a girls' night with two middle-aged women. One of them (Jeannie) is disgusted with the whole enterprise and especially Jay, while the other falls for Frank instantly. It's kind of sweet. To boost his self-esteem, Jay brags about his hot wife while Phil desperately tries to drag him away for a drink. And OMG THE ANGRY WOMAN IS PLAYED BY PERI GILPIN. For those of you not up on your 90's TV, that is ROZ from FRASIER. This episode seriously has the best guest stars.

Frank does the in-house version of the Walk Of Shame. He found a different woman on the way home, and she's now in the basement. (Please be Claire's mom played by Shelley Long, PLEASE.) No, it's not, but it's almost as good - Grandpa picked up Jeannie! Yes, Roz from Frasier has hooked up with Phil Dunphy's dad. This is cause for celebration.

...oh, and she's a hooker. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

So Phil hurriedly gathers some money, and he and Frank try to cover the situation. Unfortunately, Claire walks in at that moment. Phil thinks up a quick lie - she's a therapist. What is this, The Sessions? Inspired by this great turn of events, Claire goes in to thank her for her help. Furthermore, she's always wanted to have that particular job herself. Jeannie is confused, Phil is flustered, Claire is oblivious. Haley and Alex then walk in screaming - which prompts Claire to ask the "therapist" if she has any experience with teenagers. Jeannie launches into a story about how she and her sister always fought, which ends with "If I wanted to stab her, that skank'd be stabbed." This is Claire's first clue that maybe something's up.

Mitchell and Cameron are feeling guilty about the Renaldo situation. They want to ask Pepper to let Renaldo take over, but it's a terrifying thought. Just then, Renaldo bursts in with much the same thoughts on his mind. He's quit Pepper and wants to work on his own. As he pulls out his planning book, Pepper knocks on the door. They hide the assistant just in time for Pepper to enter (looking a lot like Pee-Wee Herman in that suit, incidentally) and tell them that said assistant has quit.

Lily walks in at that moment saying "Daddies, there's a man in the bathroom." Mitch and Cam pass it off as a Wiggles song (and even sing it on the spot, doing pretty well for an improvisation). Pepper sees nothing wrong with this and instead starts cursing out Renaldo. This is too much for the man, who comes in and shrieks at Pepper for never appreciating him. The game is up. Pepper collapses into tears. "You've been through the mill, Pepper," says Mitch, before catching his stupid pun.

Pepper explains - he's done all these weddings, and yet he's desperately sad because none of them are his. This prompts Renaldo to confess his love, and just like that they're together. No buildup. Just - they love each other. BOOM. All right, I have to admit it, their getting-together scene is pretty touching.

Okay, this was dumb. Cam and Mitch may have their silly traits, but they're essentially realistic characters. Pepper is...just not from this planet. He's like every gay stereotype mated and put through the world's gayest blender. He's not a person, but a walking archetype with no substance. It's gross and old-fashioned and is unworthy of this show, let alone television in general these days (I don't think anyone can make a case for Modern Family being the most progressive show out there, but come on, this was pretty bad). 

In the shower, Jay realizes he's forgotten his towel and hollers for Gloria - only to have it brought by Andy. This is an unpleasant surprise. The man is an intrusive smarm and I am with Jay 100% on this one. Imagine having, say, Bob Benson from Mad Men as your nanny and that's pretty close to this guy. Nothing really wrong with him, but irritating in a whole lot of ways.

Claire is very mad about the hooker. Frank is a combination of apologetic and judgmental, Phil is caught in the middle. Claire tells him that she's sorry Frank and his girlfriend broke up, but - Frank interrupts her right there. He dumped Annie, because he was afraid of commitment. Not the other way around. He says he would never have gone with a hooker, but Jeannie was really sweet and professional. Jeannie walks in just in time to hear this and is touched. Not only that, but she thinks Frank did pretty well, too. This gives Frank the confidence he needs to pursue new happiness. Claire walks Jeannie out before she can do any more damage, just as Jeannie mentions how Alex is like a little version of her...

Andy is obnoxious, full of exercise plans and healthy meals. Jay promptly tells him he's not a good fit and to GTFO immediately. Andy sighs that he "came on too strong". This somehow leads into the story of how his dad died of cancer, which appropriately guilt trips Jay and Manny into being honest - and telling him they're never going to eat his stupid flaxseed muffins. Gloria walks in right then and berates her husband and son for not giving Andy a chance. Jay cites the vote as his trump card. No luck. Gloria puts her foot down. She's at home all the time, so SHE should have the final say. Andy attempts conflict resolution, sounding oddly like Phil (as Jay pointed out earlier). This wins Jay over, and he hires him on the spot. Huh? Since when does that work on Jay? Never mind, though. Andy is hired and Manny is, sadly, going for a run.

Over a montage of Grandpa Frank going home, Cam and Mitch planning their wedding, Pepper and Renaldo relaxing in a villa somewhere, and Andy taking the Pritchett-Delgados for a healthy walk, Andy narrates about getting moving and being confident. Thankfully, Jay shuts him up, saying the healthy walk is bad enough.

Tag scene: Lily looks increasingly exasperated about her dads' wedding planning, then storms out of the room frustrated. This is told via a series of jump cuts. It doesn't sound like much, but the actress makes it hilarious. 

I found most of the characters fairly unlikable this episode, though the Phil/Frank plotline was fun. The Andy story was kind of stupid, and everything involving Pepper...ehhh. However, Nathan Lane was still really good, and Peri Gilpin damn near stole the show. They're probably going to have to change their name to Mainstream Family just for the sake of accuracy. I say pile on the guest stars and bring on the wacky. Just give them some better writing, please?

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