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Modern Family Review: "Heart Broken" (Episode 4.15)

February 14, 2013  |  3:16pm
<i>Modern Family</i> Review: "Heart Broken" (Episode 4.15)

Love is in the air. Modern Family’s ubiquitous Valentine’s episode is upon us. Instead of the typical back-and-forth storylines, we instead saw three vignettes of how each family was celebrating V-day, separated by commercial breaks. The slight change in format was probably an attempt to pull this struggling season from its triteness, but the format did nothing. Once again this episode—like Jay trying to keep up with his young wife—seemed old and tired.

Claire and Phil celebrate their Hallmark holiday a day early so they can babysit for Jay and Gloria the following day. They briefly role-play at a hotel, where Phil (of course) blunders the world’s most basic pick-up lines. The plan is to go on a “blimpnic,” a picnic in a blimp. We learn that Dunphy men get nosebleeds, a comedic Chekhov’s gun. And then Claire passes out, not from Phil’s sexiness, but, as they learn at the hospital, from a condition that causes arrhythmia.

The “lesbian doctor” tells Claire to take it easy for a couple days; she doesn’t want to rest, but Phil lures her in with the idea of a side-by-side couple’s massage. (“Just you, me, and a couple Cambodians to work us over good.”) The kids are supposed to be at a movie, but they come home to throw a party, get caught, and walk in on their parents (again). Claire and Phil are covered in blood, which would have been funny if it hadn’t happened last year on Leap Day.

Jay and Gloria haven’t been together for six weeks, so their Valentine’s Day is spent trying. They get interrupted a lot—first by Manny needing to go to school (did they forget it was a weekday?), then by Baby Joe, then Lily, then the baby-proofer. Gloria eats marshmallows … there’s a joke about drilling … they finally do it … Jay is too tired to continue … the end.

In frustration about having to do something other than sex, Gloria says, “This isn’t what this day is all about!” Which raises an interesting question: In Modern Family world, what is this day about? Last night we learned it’s about having sex—unless you are a gay couple, then it’s about drinking black-out amounts and supporting your single friends. We’re not uncovering anything new—this show has always been so hesitant in displaying any affection from Mitchell and Cam—but the three storylines juxtaposed really show how far networks have not come in representing gay couples.

That being said, Mitch and Cam’s storyline was clearly the winner. If it hadn’t been following the awkward attempts at sex, I would have appreciated it more. In fact, I think it could have carried the Valentine’s Day episode all on its own. Even though not a minute of the party was shown, the effects were enough: A pink cat. Christmas decorations. And Dylan. It’s unfortunate that Lily kicked him out because they really need to keep interacting, like every episode. Aubrey Anderson-Emmons may be only 5 years old, but her delivery (“You can’t live here. Get out! It’s weird; you’re a big boy.”) is way beyond her years. That’s where the Emmy in this ensemble really should be going.

Best Lines:

“I can make any kind of knot. It’s like I have a sailor in my mouth.”—Phil
“He’s being a real Pritchett.”—Gloria
“Where were all these distractions the night that Joe was conceived?”—Jay
“Sometimes when we’re around them, we feel a little guilty for having found each other … like we’re waving our love in their faces.”—Cam
“Tipsy? You were like all of Mad Men.”—Cam

Discuss:

What middle school student likes a boy with a feather in his cap? That’s weird, right?
I’m not a cat person, but do you typically “put them away” for parties?
How do I download the song about the tiny pink panther? It’s pretty catchy.

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