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TV Review: Modern Family – “Boys’ Night”

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Who knew that Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) would enjoy hanging out with a bunch of gay guys so darn much? In this week’s episode of ABC’s Modern Family, that’s exactly what is revealed, as Jay ditches his wife, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), and the symphony, for a bar. He happens to pick the bar where his son, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Mitchell’s partner, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), and their friends are enjoying cocktails. Jay gets a frilly drink and joins in the fun, having probably the best time we, the audience, has ever seen him have.

I very much enjoyed Jay’s drinking experience, but there is something that nags me just a bit. In the past, we have seen Jay be accepting of Mitchell, but never embrace the homosexual lifestyle as much as he suddenly does. The next day, nursing a hangover, Jay is disturbed and put off when Mitchell and Cam’s friend, Pepper (Nathan Lane), shows up to take him on a day outing. Jay blames his commitment to the plan on alcohol. Sure, Jay may have been inebriated when he agreed to hang out with Pepper, but Jay bonded with all of Mitchell’s friends the moment he sat down at their table, before he started drinking. That’s why the plot rings hollow, if only slightly.

How many movies have been made where a young boy befriends an old man? OK, so not that many, but enough that it’s a familiar setup. Yet, it feels fresh as Luke (Nolan Gould), in all his ignorant naivety, warms up to scary Mr. Kleezak (Philip Baker Hall), even while Luke’s parents cower in terror. This time. Luke gets away with it because he has always been portrayed as dumb. I question how much longer that can go on. Perhaps it’s because I know the actor playing Luke is incredibly smart, well above average, but after two seasons, it’s starting to feel a little fake when Luke says things like “I’m still growing into my tongue”, even as I laugh. I’m not saying Luke should change fundamentally, but it’s time to start growing him up.

And those are my only complaints about last night’s Modern Family. In general, it is a very funny show. While at times it borders on unbelievability, for the most part, the humor is good enough to whitewash any flaws. In fact, had I not waited half a day and let my feelings on the episode simmer, it is likely I would not have found even those couple of criticisms above to complain about. Great main cast, fun guest stars, zany situations, and a real heart make Modern Family far better than most sitcom offerings.

For instance, last night, I absolutely loved the way Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) are terrified of Mr. Kleezak, though they have no logical reason to be. Even better, I think they realize how silly their fear is, but stick with it anyway because they are more comfortable with the status quo than risking an upset. Cam’s reluctance to let niece Haley (Sarah Hyland) babysit his infant daughter was highly relatable. When do you trust family just because they’re family, and where do you draw the line? Those are just two examples, off the top of my head, that prove just how well this show works in context.

Watch Modern Family Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com