Most of you are familiar with the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” which suggests that children need more influences and support than just their parents to help them grow. This week’s Modern Family episode, “Other People’s Children,” takes this saying to heart, though perhaps it updates it to, “it takes a suburb to raise a child.”. In an episode that was more touching than funny, characters of different generations are paired together, allowing for rituals, perspectives, and talents to be passed on.
I love episodes where Gloria and Claire hang out. They are so different, and there is so much natural tension to be harvested. As Claire points out, though she’s Gloria’s stepdaughter, Claire’s older. When the two of them take Lily to a bridal store to pick out a flower girl dress, all Lily wants to wear is a Disney princess dress, but both Gloria and Claire say that is out of the question. When tomboy Claire reveals to diva Gloria that she has never tried on a wedding gown, Gloria forces Claire to try one. They get distracted by trying on dresses, and don’t notice when Lily wanders out to try on a Disney princess dress.
Back at Jay’s house, Jay teaches Luke how to use power tools and make himself a toolbox from scratch. Luke has a knack for it, and is happy he has someone as cool as his grandpa to teach him about guy things. While Luke is in Jay’s shed, Andy the male nanny (he calls himself a “manny”) hangs out with Phil in Phil’s “studio.” Andy’s girlfriend is in the Coast Guard, and he never gets to see her, so he’s making her a super cheesy, super sweet video with Phil’s direction and filmmaking equipment. Throughout the season, romance has been slowly building between Andy and Haley. Haley finds herself oddly attracted to Andy, who is a mini-Phil. Of course, Haley will wear Alex’s clothes before she’ll ever admit to this crush.
“Other People’s Children” was really sweet, and very fresh. While I’ve seen the Gloria and Claire pairings before (and like I said, can’t get enough), the rest of the groups felt new and were interesting to see together, particularly Jay and Luke. Jay is of an older generation. He’s tough and often callous, and does not express emotions easily. It’s funny to see how different his perception of what a man is is from the generations below him (Phil, Mitch and Manny). But that tough exterior just makes it all the more touching when he is able to let his guard down and connect emotionally with his family. If there is a Luke and Jay episode, I can’t remember it off hand. Putting them together brought out parts of their character we rarely see. Luke, for once, focused on one thing and wasn’t so physically awkward (he actually made a really cool toolbox), and Jay imparts that he has skills he wants to pass on, and wasn’t able to with Mitch and worries he may be too old when his infant son, Joe, is old enough to learn.
As Alex points out, Andy the manny is basically a mini-Phil, so Phil isn’t really passing any skills on to Andy that he wouldn’t have eventually learned. But through Andy, Phil is able to finally teach Haley that she should not be dating men that disrespect her and don’t appreciate her. Gloria and Claire are both pushy, and while they don’t pass on any perspectives or talents to each other, they mirror each other in their bossy ways, and realize their flaws. They learn sometimes you just have to let people make their own decisions, and allow Lily to get that princess dress she really wanted.
—Phil, on getting make-up for Andy: “I’ll go get some of my—Claire’s, powder. She’s my wife.”
—Phil, on helping Andy make his video love letter: “Why am I so intent on helping Andy? I love filmmaking, and I love love. I guess you could say I enjoy making love on film, and now I can do it by myself.”
—Luke: “Dad thinks I should take Ceramics because lots of girls do.”
Jay: “You know what a lotta girls don’t do? Guys who take Ceramics.”
—After making the video, when Andy thanks Phil, Phil answers: “Next time you’re with your girlfriend, just think of me.”