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'Modern Family' bounces back from slump

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 7, 2013

 

After a disappointing string of, in this critic's opinion, lackluster episodes from the current season of ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family," this past week's episode single-handedly re-affirms why the show has become one of the most acclaimed in recent memory.

The first and titular storyline of "The Future Dunphys" deals with Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) Dunphy's disillusionment towards their respective parenting styles. Phil gets an ego boost when a similar looking "future" version of his family seems to confirm that his "hands off" approach is correct, only to learn moments later that things will go horribly wrong. Claire meanwhile, fearing the alienation of her kids, begins to adopt Phil's "hands off" approach in lieu of her usual bossy one. The ensuing phone conversations as well as the "future" Dunphy family provide a fair share of laughs.

The second storyline revolves around Jay (Ed O'Neil) taking Manny for an interview at a prestigious prep school. Here, O'Neil proves just why he's been a television mainstay since "Married... With Children," nailing every bit of condescending dialogue as Jay bemoans his former treatment by so-called spoiled rich snobs, the likes of which fill the school, only to later on openly reverse his opinion; in truth, he was jealous of them all. Manny eventually comically botches the interview in an attempt to please Jay, which ends with laughs.

The week's final plot revolved around Cam and Mitchell's 4-year-old adopted daughter Lily's confusion over what exactly her heritage is. At first proclaiming to herself to be "gay," her fathers soon learn that she believes this is actually her heritage (she is Vietnamese). Along with some help from Gloria (Sofia Vergara), they take the girl to a Vietnamese restaurant, where the pair deliver a series of unintentionally inappropriate remarks, "I think we would all be better off if people would go back to where they came from" and "You're not born gay, sweetie," providing the biggest laughs of the entire episode. 

In addition, a minor bit at the end of the episode featured another classic instance of Phil assisting Luke with another hare-brained scheme; this time, it was a pancake with popcorn kernels in the batter, with the intention of making the pancake flip itself.  This sketch is funny, if not somewhat ridiculous, and reminds us why them characters are so likable.

"The Future Dunphys" shows just how strong the series' near perfect meld of brilliant writing and a spectacular cast can be when it truly brings us their A-game. With sharply written and well-executed dialogue, this most recent episode is an example of "Modern Family" at its very best.

A


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