TV in Review: Modern Family, “Leap Day”
March 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Hey, look at me, reviewing a television show in a timely manner, rather than one from last week or last decade! Don’t expect it to happen again, but it was leap day yesterday. And the creators of Modern Family took advantage of the rare event to build a sitcom episode around it.
As Phil Dunphy explains it…
PHIL: You’re given this gift of twenty-four extra hours. You can’t waste it at work or school. You have to do something extraordinary, something shocking.
Phil’s wife Claire apparently suggested trapeze classes for the whole family, but I didn’t hear that at first. I misheard “trapeze” as “striptease” and for three minutes was wondering why this episode didn’t get the same press outrage garnered by the Lily episode — oh my God the little girl swore! — or the Haley episode — oh my God the bigger girl had sex! And yes, my mistake shows that I live in California, where striptease classes are more common than leap years, although they don’t tend to involve family discounts.
I was clued in to the actual plot by an exchange prompted by the boys, Manny and Luke, examining a brochure…
MANNY: So is this safe?
LUKE: It’s a trapeze!
PHIL: Relax. More people are killed by knife-wielding strangers than from trapezing.
MANNY: I’m thinking about going home now.
Some of the plot was a throwback to the comedy trope of “oh my God the women are on their menstrual cycles together.”
PHIL: Your mom’s just feeling emotional.
LUKE: She was like this last month, and the month before, and the month before.
Yes, it’s a basic boys-and-girls-are-different plot. Simplistic divisions can irk me, but they do a skillful comedic job and wind up questioning gender expectations. It’s not like the boys are shown as emotionally stable creatures of reason.
CLAIRE: What were the chances that Phil had come back to apologize for all the game-playing and have an open conversation with me about what I was feeling?
Cut to Phil and Luke conspiring in the bathroom.
PHIL: Okay, I got a bottle of fake blood out of the Halloween supplies. Put a dab on your finger, say you cut it, I say I need to run you by the doctor, easy-trapezy.
And there’s Gloria realizing that she doesn’t want her new husband Jay to be an insensitive macho man like her first husband Javier.
Okay, I admit it. I wanted Jay to kick the little Dutchman’s ass at the bar. Two seconds on the phone with Javier and I remember what that stupid hot-head behavior gets you. Nothing. It’s better to be calm, like Jay. Like Jay and me. Like Jay.
Overall, another pleasurable twenty-one minutes spent with the Dunphys. There was even a coincidental link to the passing of Davy Jones, as seen when the men show up to take part in Cam’s Wizard of Oz themed birthday party.
MICKY: We’re the monkeys.
Not as great as last week’s episode, but pretty good. Three-and-a-half trapezes on my Midway Carny scale.
Season 3, Episode 17 of Modern Family first aired on ABC on February 29, 2012.