Modern Family Review: "Aunt Mommy" (Episode 3.15)
This week’s Modern Family focused on the issue of surrogate mothers vs. adoption for gay parents. Thankfully, the episode didn’t fall into the trappings of A Very Special Blossom… or an after-school special. It dealt with the issues in a very adult manner: by downing lots of alcohol.
We’ll start at the beginning of the episode where we watch the typical chaos unfold in the Dunphy household. Alex and Haley are cleaning and rearranging the kitchen because they made the mistake of talking about how bored they were, so Claire found a way to end their boredom. The kicker was that the two girls were talking outside of the house, but Claire’s superpower hearing picked up on their conversation. (Must be a mom thing.)
Luke’s friend Leon comes over, and we learn two things right away: He has a lice problem, and he wants Luke to help him reanimate a dead squirrel (in a bag he has, we assume). The next thing you know, Luke’s complaining about an itchy knit cap he’s wearing, borrowed from Leon, of course. Small touches like that cracked us up through the episode. The stage was set for the Dunphy kids to wreak havoc in the home, but much to Claire’s—and our—surprise, the kids took care of everything.
Phil needs to show Mitchell’s and Cam’s frenemies Steven and Stefan a house on the market for a fifth time. The couple recently had a son through a surrogate mother, while Mitchell and Cameron are still waiting to adopt a son. They’re feeling a bit down about the situation. (Best lines of the night go to these two: “Cam: I’m playing a drinking game. It’s called every time I feel depressed about something, I take a drink. Mitchell: That’s already a game. It’s called alcoholism.”) Their jealousy of the other couple’s speed in fatherhood plants the seed of surrogacy that blossoms later in the episode.
Over in the other Pritchett household, we (sadly) see a pattering continuing in the two adult characters in home: Jay’s tough-as-nails exterior melts away as he learns a life lesson about love and relationships, and Gloria only has two knobs in her volume dial—loud and 11. The saving grace of this family is Manny with his old-school ways. He’s the kid who spends a little too much time with mommy, goes on constitutions, not walks, and steeps his loose tea. A Lipton bag? Never for Manny—and we love that about this character.
Jay wants Manny to go play football with some kids in the neighborhood instead of the kid going to see a play with Gloria. Jay intercepts a call from Gloria’s friend and lies and says that the two can’t make it because Manny has a prior football commitment. We think Manny does pretty well in the football scrimmage until he stops and picks up a heads-up penny for his mom on the field—while he still has the ball. So unrealistic, but we’ll go with it.
Manny gets clobbered on the field, Jay and Gloria have a big fight about it, and then Jay turns into an old softy when he learns the reasons behind the penny collecting. Move over, Blossom, it’s Jay’s turn at a very special episode.
The episode’s title “Aunt Mommy” is a hilarious play on the sister/mother motif in Chinatown. We watch Claire, Phil, Cam and Mitchell get drunk over dinner to celebrate Phil’s closing the deal with Steven and Stefan. A hungover Phil can only recall bits and pieces of conversation from the night before. The cutting between conversations, leaving the good (and sometimes dirty) bits behind, was a nice touch.
They all remember that Claire, in a drunken stupor that resulted in a four-person cry fest at the dinner table—offered one of her eggs to Cam and Mitchell, so that the child would be half Pritchett and half Tucker. Three of the four regret the conversation the next morning. Only Cam is all for moving ahead with the Aunt Mommy plan.
The family brunch at Jay’s and Gloria’s home devolves into two camps: anti- and pro-surrogate. We hear terms like “in-breeding” and “Appalachian” in a few zingers between the sides. In the end, Mitchell and Claire hide under the dining room table to work things out themselves. Neither of them wants to move ahead, and although Cam’s a little disappointed, these things work out for Modern Family. It’s too bad that the writers didn’t carry this storyline a few more episodes. It would have been funny to see both couples, especially Phil, meeting with fertility doctors and interviewing surrogate mothers.
While we had a few issues with certain patterns developing among the characters, this episode of Modern Family surprised us a couple of times. Gloria was a taxi driver? Luke hates Lily? Who knew? We also enjoyed how they tackled a serious subject with humor—and managed to throw political correctness to the wind quite a few times. We’d like to see more of that, please.