Modern Family Recap: ‘Our Children, Ourselves’

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One of the minor criticisms people have of Modern Family is wondering why Cameron and Mitchell, Phil and Claire, and Jay and Gloria are together. In some episodes, I’ve wondered the same thing, but last night’s episode, “Our Child, Ourselves,” shows why each of the three couples are some of the strongest on TV — well, at least two of them.

Cameron/Mitchell: While taking a stroll around an outdoor mall, Mitchell sees an ex-girlfriend, Tracy (played by Mary Lynn Rajskub of 24 fame), of his from high school. Yes, before he was gay and raising an adorable Asian baby, Mitch was straight and sexing up women in nurse’s offices. Even after coming out, he still had sex with Tracy at a high-school reunion, roughly a decade prior. Mitch freaks out, though, when he sees Tracy with what appears to be an eight-year-old boy, thinking it’s his and she never told him. He tells Cameron his theory, who needs some time to have his reaction, which includes sliding dramatically to the floor. The next morning, Cameron tells Mitch that he and Lily are the two most important things in his life, and he’d support Mitch any way he can. Often times, we don’t see the couple-y side of the couple, but we did last night; there was kissing and hugging and reassurance and reconciliation. Since last year’s criticism of the lack of any romantic actions between Mitch and Cameron, I’ve been noticing a lot more physical interaction between the two. Later in the episode, they go to Tracy’s house, hoping to meet Mitch’s maybe son, Bobby. But, in a plot twist that I sadly didn’t see coming, it turns out Bobby isn’t an eight-year-old; he’s actually a little person. Their gift of a Lil’ Slugger baseball mitt goes unappreciated.

Phil/Claire: “I love us.” That’s what Phil says right before he and Claire see Croctopus 3D — until their plan gets disrupted by the parents of Alex’s schoolmate rival, Sanjay (maybe the best line in the episode was Phil saying, “I’m still thinking about all the Sanjays”). Earlier in the day, Alex made a comment about Sanjay’s parents being a doctor and a surgeon, and how she’ll have to make due with what she’s got, meaning Phil the Real Estate Agent and Claire the Housewife. So, instead of seeing the half-crocodile and half-octopus hybrid (and also the name of a character from Dong Kong Country), they instead watch the same boring French film as Sanjay’s parents, hoping to impress them. Phil leaves halfway through, Claire falls asleep, and they both hate what they see. They’re perfectly comfortable and perfectly happy as a clumsy couple who enjoy cheesy movies (the higher the sequel number, the better, especially if there’s a new cast involved), hide candy and wine coolers to bring to the theater, and mockingly call themselves “doctor” and “professor.” I love you guys, too. When Friday Night Lights and Coach and Miss Coach leave us in February, Phil and Claire might take over as my favorite TV couple.

Jay/Gloria: Jay fell in love with Gloria because she’s full of life, and he needed a pick-me-up after the divorce with his first wife. Plus, she looks really good in a nightie, as we learned last night. We don’t know much about how the two met (actually, do we know anything about it?), so I’m just guessing here, but I’ll bet she became attracted to Jay not for his looks, obviously, but for how kind he treated her. She makes Colombia seem like a Hellhole, where there’s a few crime scene on every corner and Baby Jesus comes instead of Santa Claus, and presumably, she wanted an easier, more relaxed life with a nice, older man. Lucky for Jay, this older man turns out to be him. In “Our Child,” Jay and Gloria get the weakest plot — Jay doesn’t like Gloria’s semi-friends because they’re boring (although we never really see why Jay dislikes them so much), and tells them as much to their face, which is about conventionally sitcom’y Modern Family has ever gotten, and right in Christopher Lloyd’s Fraiser wheelhouse — but we do see that Jay feels bad and apologizes for his rude actions. He’s also becoming more of a father to Manny, even if Manny was kind of an asshole with that Dribble Glass stunt. The Jay and Gloria couple is the show’s weakest, even if the characters themselves are strong. I hope we get more details of why they’re together and less jokes about how old Jay is (and again, more episodes featuring Gloria in a nightie).

Overall, it was another decent episode, not particularly great but not really bad, either. Highlighting the relationships between the adult partners was what I focused on and liked the most, which is probably I didn’t pay too much mind to lack of a real resolution in Jay’s plot and the show’s increased resistance to combine storylines. Hopefully next week’s “Caught In the Act,” featuring some naughtiness from Phil and Claire, will get Modern Family back on track.