When I was a child, my teacher used to reprimand us for whispering secrets into each others’ ears by chanting, “secrets, secrets are no fun; secrets, secrets hurt someone.” Well, secrets may sometimes hurt someone, but she was wrong about the first half of that sentence: secrets are indeed quite fun. And this week, Modern Family is all about hiding and discovering secrets. It also offers a fun and interesting take on how cell phones and technology in general have helped and hurt the functioning of the traditional family.
In “iSpy,” family members use various means to discover and share each others’ secrets (mind you, none of these secrets are that clandestine.) Claire turns into an intense helicopter mom as she uses her technology (iPad tracking devices, camera drones, phones, you name it) to spy on Luke and Haley. Under the pretext that it’s for their own good, she even enlists Alex and Phil as agents to do her dirty work. In the meantime, at a café on the other side of town, Mitch’s good friend tells him a secret: he has had calf implants. He makes Mitch swear not to tell anyone, especially not Cam, noting that Cam is a huge blabbermouth. But alas, the moment Mitch gets home, Cam pulls the secret out of Mitch. Though Cam promises not to tell anyone else, he can’t resist texting away to all his friends about the calf implants. Back at Jay and Gloria’s house, Jay is also hiding a secret from Gloria. He lent money to a young waitress he knows to help her fix her damaged car and didn’t ask Gloria for permission. Now he’s worried Gloria has discovered his secrets by going through his emails on his cell phone.
The episode “iSpy” makes cell phones seem like fun fortune cookies that hold a gazillion personal secrets just waiting to be cracked out. Modern Family lives up to its name, analyzing how technology has impacted family life. Cell phones can be used to help your children if they’re in trouble, but they also have turned into tracking devices for worrisome parents and jealous spouses. While many in our society worry about the government invading our privacy, the more likely scenario is that someone under the same roof as you is spying on you. Cell phones have led to less communication between family members (people check their emails during dinner rather than discussing their day) but have conversely added to a lack of privacy as well. Technology both hides our secrets and reveals them. For example, as SNL hilariously pointed out in their Amazon Kindle spoof, mothers can shamelessly read Fifty Shades of Grey in public on their Kindle, because no one will know. But by the same token, if a family member taps into your phone, they can discover all sorts of minutiae about you: photos you’ve taken, embarrassing music you’ve listened to, text messages you sent, etc.
Below are some of the funnier lines from the show:
Phil, responding to Claire’s worry about Luke hanging out with bad boy Zander: “Claire, you’re a tough one to figure out. You don’t trust bad boys, and yet you married one.”
After Claire notes that Phil used the aerial camera to make sand angels on the beach, Phil responds defensively: “For my ‘Phil Dunphy will get you a heavenly deal on a beach house’ video.”
Cam, defending his gossip-monger ways: “That’s different. That was gossip, and gossip belongs to everyone.”