Last night’s Modern Family episode focused around one word: insecurity. As Alex prepares her valedictory graduation speech from junior high school—that kiddie pool of self-loathing and self-doubt—the rest of the Dunphys and Pritchetts are tapping into their own insecurities as they prepare for the ceremony.
As Alex rehearses, older sister Haley warns her that her high-minded words will relegate her to the halls of geekdom in high school. Type A mom Claire is smothering Alex, hoping to hold onto one more baby who’s a step away from hating her parents. And Phil hovers in the background waiting for Claire’s meltdown to occur sooner than later so he can meet up for a trip to Vegas with his college buddies the following day. (Of course, Phil’s old buds are former college male cheerleaders. He’s afraid of backing out of the trip because, “They will mock you with a hurtful, rhythmic taunt.”)
Jay also addresses his insecurities, but in an unexpected way. When he returns home from the doctor’s, his family is concerned about his drooping eye. They’re worried about a stroke, but Jay has a little secret: He got Botox treatment. Once the rest of the Dunphys and Pritchetts find out, the jokes and one-liners, naturally, get unleashed.
This episode felt a little different than the past few Modern Family episodes. It was more focused, concentrating on the single plot point of commencement, and there were quite a few sentimental moments. The kids—Alex and Haley—were placed at the front and center of the episode, but they don’t quite have the chops to carry the comedic weight through the entire show. However, the two sisters did have a couple of bonding moments, which were unexpectedly touching.
Heavyweights Mitch and Cam weren’t given much to do, although Cam’s falling into a pool or walking into a sliding glass door is always good for a laugh. The physical comedy (referring to the “fall” in the episode title) was sprinkled throughout the episode, with Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell stealing the spotlight. First, there was Phil’s hilarious cheerleading toss, heaving Claire over a fence, followed by a short-lived ride on a tandem bicycle to the ceremony and the two rolling down a hill of the school just as Alex’s speech begins.
Just like graduations themselves, this Modern Family episode ran the gamut of emotions, with a few slapstick moves mixed in for good measure. It was a little more tender then hilarious, and sometimes that’s a welcome relief.
-Cam points out the difference between his falls and Phil and Claire’s: “[It’s] absurdist comedy against a formal backdrop.”
-“Do you think he got his butt done too? It looks fantastic.” Phil on Jay’s ass after the family learns of Jay’s Botox treatment.”
-Jay on his procedure: “I haven’t felt this dumb since I shelled out 30 bucks for that bracelet that’s supposed to give me better balance.”
-“She’s a middle child. She will never forgive us.” Claire to Phil on why they need to get to Alex’s graduation pronto.
-“Don’t stop believing. Let’s get this party started…Seriously?” – Alex’s closing lines to her valedictory speech, which she changed because of Haley’s advice to leave the geek life behind in junior high. She couldn’t believe that pandering to the audience actually worked.