When I turned on the TV tonight at 9pm I fully expected to be amused for 30 minutes…the season opener of Modern Family did not disappoint. The family crammed more problems into the half hour than most families have in a month.
While rummaging through their junky garage Phil and Claire rediscover their old '83 station wagon. It’s truly a mess: the doors don’t open, windows can’t roll down and it just takes up space (every family has something in their house like this….maybe even more than one thing). Claire is adamant about selling the car until she realizes that its filled with memories…literally: from Luke’s old jar of sunshine (which he naturally still wants to keep because he still actually thinks he caught sunshine in there) to Haley’s old blanket…that Luke threw up on years ago. Claire breaks down, crying about how the kids are all grown up now: “A minute ago they were babies. Soon they’ll be driving, then we’ll all be dead.” Claire is actually showing some feeling here, revealing that she can be human at times. Amazing! So what does Phil do to make her feel better? He builds a time machine of course! The time machine turns out to be the station wagon, with a hand made sign that says simply "Time Machine." Against the kids wishes, he takes the whole family out to Granger Point for a picnic. Its a nice thought, but of course, it's Phil we're talking about, so things don't go smoothly. Everything falls apart during this outing and the car winds up in a ditch. But while the car might not be salvageable, Claire’s spirit is brightened and the family has a good laugh. I know this is following the typical sitcom formula, but I find it funny here, even if it's a little ridiculous.
So while the Dunphy’s are digging up old memories, Cameron and Mitchell are busy trying to create new memories with Lily by building a princess castle for her to play in. This would seem like an easy enough task except for the fact that Mitchell is a klutz and is clearly the last person you would want holding a nail gun. The sad part is he has no clue that he’s not the next Bob Vila…he’s more like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Cameron can’t deal with it so he calls on Jay to come over and help. When Cameron finally realizes that the two are in “cahoots” (his word, not mine), his pride is hurt. He tries to finish the castle alone and ends up getting locked in the playhouse. Now Mitchell might not be the stereotypical manly man, but he certainly acts like the average Joe here: refusing to admit that he screwed up.
The best storyline revolves around Manny (of course!) and the girl he brings home, Kelly. Although Gloria claimed that she wasn’t the typical Colombian mother who hates her son’s girlfriend, I knew as soon as Kelly stepped foot in that house that Gloria was going to have a problem with her. To the dismay of his mother, Kelly and Manny quickly evolved as a couple in just one day: Manny starts eating what Kelly eats (which doesn’t include his mothers empanadas, since they’re full of trans fats), Kelly “moves her homework in” to Manny’s folder (which Gloria thinks is too sudden), and then Kelly tells Gloria that she should let Manny make his own decisions regarding how he drinks his chocolate milk (with a pinch of salt, at Kelly's suggestion). I thought this was all too hilarious! Manny acts like such an old man; of course he would have a girlfriend who likea to rush things! But when Manny dumps his mom to go to the movies with Kelly, we find out that the perfect couple isn’t going to be celebrating any anniversaries anytime soon. Kelly orders for him at the movies and doesn’t approve of his burgundy dinner jacket (which I thought he looked adorable in). But Manny bounces back, moving on to Alicia, another classmate, as soon as his failed date is over. His mother is upset that he would just move on so quickly. I, on the other hand, was quite proud of him. Last season Manny had trouble talking to girls, now he's a player. Is this change believable? Not really. But do I approve? Absolutely!
The theme of this episode, which Phil nicely summed up in the end, (again typical sitcom style) was that nobody loves change (clearly Claire and Gloria have difficulties with it), but life is all about letting things go. Mitchell and Cameron's storyline doesn't quite fit this theme: I didn't really see any change going on. Overall I guess it was a nice lesson hidden amongst this family's chaos. But what I really took away from this episode was the fact that chocolate milk + a pinch of salt = tasty treat. Might have to try that...