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TV  |  Reviews

Modern Family Review: "Mother's Day" (Episode 2.21)

May 5, 2011  |  10:42am

The Pritchetts and the Dunphys come together celebrate Mother’s Day the old-fashioned way—with lots of bickering served up with guilt on the side. In last night’s episode, the three families’ storylines were closely woven together, but without the numerous highs or lows of previous episodes. This episode ran right down the middle, which is too bad because it was a perfect night to hand over the reigns to hot mamas Claire and Gloria, who were ultimately saddled with the weakest part of the plot.

In one of the few sight gags of the episode, Phil and the kids are ready for Claire with presents in the kitchen, but they’re aghast when she comes down wearing a ridiculous hat and T-shirt from previous Mother’s Days. The camera reveals a two small, yet strategically placed, child-sized hands painted on either side of Claire’s chest. (Yes, it’s a little juvenile, but totally believable.)

To celebrate their day, Claire and Gloria decide to force their kids to go hiking while Jay and Phil stay at home to cook dinner. The canyon hike is a disaster with the kids arguing over nothing, zinging each other with lines like, “I’m so bored, I’m talking to you.” Claire gets fed up and tells the kids to stay where they are so she and Gloria can enjoy and finish the hike alone. At the summit, Claire confesses to Gloria that sometimes she gets so annoyed by her kids that she wants to punch them. She eventually gets Gloria to admit that there are certain things about Manny that bug her, especially the poetry—the doggerel—that he writes. Too bad super-sensitive Manny is right behind Gloria when she makes the admission.

Cameron’s miffed when Mitchell brings him breakfast in bed; it becomes an argument about roles of “man and wife” in their partnership. Mitchell insists that he doesn’t see Cameron as Lily’s “mom,” but he’s not at all convincing, especially when we see flashbacks of Mitchell referring to Cam as his “wife” and telling toddler Lily, who’s standing outside the bedroom door, “OK, scratch the balloons, she’s in a mood.”

And back at Jay’s house, goofy Phil and serious Jay are cooking dinner exactly the way Jay’s mom used to. Phil tries to enliven the atmosphere with his Julia Child impersonations and music (even trying to to recreate a scene from The Big Chill). Jay will have none of it, until Phil finds a note in the cookbook from nine-year-old Jay to his mom. Tough guy Jay’s armor cracks and he tears up just a little (though he blames the onions).

Modern Family had some great one-liners in this episode, and as a whole, it wasn’t terrible. But with such a loaded and promising premise, “Mother’s Day” was brought down a notch by a hiking storyline that was dead before reaching the trailhead.

Stray Observations

- “They think of me as a woman!” Cameron to Mitchell about other parents at Lily’s playdate.
-“It happens to be Mother’s Day not martyr’s day.” Mitchell to Cameron
-Jay: “What the hell are those?” Phil: “Onion goggles. No more tears when I cook…You should get a pair.” Jay: “I was going to suggest the same thing”
-“Diablo!” – What Gloria calls Claire after Manny overhears that Gloria doesn’t like his poetry.

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