It’s hard to knock on Modern Family for being ambitious. Two Emmy awards for Best Comedy. A cast so excellent that most shows would drain their budget for just one member. So when the writers find themselves in a bind trying to include every piece of the eleven-role cast, it’s normal to excuse a flub or two here and there. “Me? Jealous?” wasn’t an un-funny episode, rarely if ever can that be said about this show, but it still juggled one too many storylines and left all but one short.
Our first and most successful bit involved Cam and Mitchell moving in with Jay and Gloria while their place gets fumigated. Cam gets jealous of Gloria’s attempts to “fix” Lily, and Gloria does not like Cam rearranging her kitchen. The lines here didn’t hit their marks very well, but two things make up for that fact completely. The first is Cam and Gloria’s chemistry, profoundly defining the term “awkward,” until they decide to accept one another. This acceptance is showcased during a perfect scene as the two dance their way through the kitchen, their flow symbolic of their feelings and how much the two are alike. The second part involved Manny spreading complaints about a fictional girl Danielle, in attempts to help his family come to realizations on their own. It had “running joke” written all over it, and hopefully will be subtly written into subsequent episodes this season. Overall this segment was an excellent display of character on the three actor’s parts, and was easily the right plot to lead with for the episode.
The other three sub-plots didn’t fare as well however. Mitch and Jay’s lawyer back-and-forth would have made a more provocative story if it hadn’t been pushed to the sidelines, although maybe it was forced there out of its sheer predictability. It didn’t fit well into the overall structure or theme either, and could have been left off without much effort. Claire and Phil get to interact with Greg Kinnear, which led to Phil being his usual awkward self and a handful of good lines on the sideline, but didn’t reach a strong enough point of conflict to feel satisfying. The funniest part of the Dunphy family escapades didn’t involve Kinnear at all, but instead had new Big Sister Haley and jealous Alex coming to terms with each other…by dressing Luke up as a girl names “Betty Luke.” Claire and Phil’s reaction as well as Luke’s obvious discontent made this a clever and well-needed wrap-up for the Dunphy plotlines.
“Me? Jealous?” may not have been this year’s strongest episode, but for Modern Family that just means a great show just did “above-average” for one week instead of the normal “excellent.” And in terms of why it happened, being over-ambitious with sub-plots is hardly the worst way to go. It must be a daunting task for the writers to juggle such a large cast and have them interact thoroughly on a weekly basis, so the fact that almost the entire episode fit to a theme was impressive enough. So for the countless fans out there, I see no reason to recommend you ever stop watching Modern Family. And if you aren’t watching…start.