Modern Family Recap: Send Out the Clowns

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Say it with me: CLOWN FUNERAL. CLOWN FUNERAL. CLOWN FUNERAL. Screw the rest of the family, I would have watched Mitch and Cam pay their respects to Professor Ringmaster for the entirety of the episode. Wait, why are they leavi- FORGET WHAT I SAID, CLOWNS AT A BAR. This is even better.

Unfortunately, we don’t even get to see the clowns at the bar because of the plot. Dumb plot! Fizbo reunites with his former partner Lewis (Bobby Cannavale), whom he deserted shortly after meeting Mitchell. Mitchell doesn’t respect Cam’s clowning passion (despite Cam’s touching entreaty: “If you squeeze me, do I not honk?”), so Cam leaps at the opportunity to “white up” and take the stage again. Ultimately, though, he’s outgrown the old partnership, and Lewis gets frying pan level revenge for Fizbo’s double abandonment.

Jay’s convinced that Manny’s new cool buddy is just trying to get close to Jay. Yep, he’s a regular Fonzie. If you ask me, this cool kid is LUCKY to be invited to one of Manny’s themed playdates. Turns out li’l Griffin is more interested in staring at Gloria’s boobs than riding Jay’s motorcycle or indulging in “an afternoon of mirth” with Manny. In a fun twist, though, Manny is totally ready to pimp out his mom. He was only friends with Griffin to get closer to Griffin’s sister Chloe. Two wrongs make a right in this case.

Meanwhile, Phil’s up against rival real estate agent Mitzi Roth (guest star Ellen Barkin) for a giant listing. She’s ruthless. More ruthless than any of the Dunphys…except Luke? His spy pen sneak attack backfires, but taking advantage of Mitzi’s sympathy works like gangbusters.

And finally, in the grand tradition of moms blowing up their kids’ spots, Claire wants to get on Facebook (“Social networking or social not working?” - my man Luke comin’ in with a SOLID BURN). Haley and Alex are nervous that she’ll embarass them, but Claire’s the one who ends up red-faced when old spring break pictures are revealed. “Tear down the wall!” she orders the girls.

Overall, this episode was fairly goofy thanks to the clowns, with far fewer lessons learned than usual. If anything, the message I took from this episode was that stooping to your opponent’s low level pays off - whether you’re trying to get back at someone for abandoning your clown act, stealing your business, taking advantage of your friendship or forcing themselves into your social network. It would’ve been nice to see the characters have a little more self-awareness about their terrible behavior, and it certainly wouldn’t play every week - but once in a while, it’s fun to see the beloved Family members being bad.