Bad news for the Pritchett clan, good news for us: Phil isn’t the only family member harboring an inappropriate crush on an in-law. Seriously, was there anything better on last night’s dangerously funny installment of Modern Family than Cameron’s overly enthusiastic admission (embedded below) about his attraction to Mitchell’s dad Jay? “For the record, you’re smokin’ hot. One hundred percent. You’re totally my type. You’re dangerous. You’re gettable. You have a little cashola in your pocket….the whole kit and kaboodle.”
In Cameron’s defense, though, his overtures came from a very different (and sympathetic) place than Phil’s manhandling of Gloria.
With Jay smarting from the revelation that his daughter had initially suspected his new wife was only attracted to his money, he turned to his son and his son’s partner for affirmation of his hotness, wondering if they’d check him out in a bar if he wasn’t their relative. Mitchell’s horrified response – “You’re really close to ruining gay for me” – was consistent with the parental embarrassment he’s shown in previous episodes, but the real high-wire act was the way the show’s writers had Cameron admit he’s hot for daddy-in-law, and had Jay essentially fishing for (and thoroughly enjoying) Cameron’s compliments, without making me want to take a Silkwood shower. Several scenes later, we found Cameron and Jay huddled in the living room demonstrating football technique without the slightest hint of awkwardness. Mitchell’s subsequent loss of appetite – much like his offense at Jay’s “Dick Butkus” reference – only served as further proof that he’s not as emotionally attuned – to his dad, to his family, to life in general – as his ebullient partner. (Bonus points: “Nice apology.” “Nice beer.”) (Additional bonus point: “Why is she dressed like the Hamburgler?”)
Of course, as we've learned over five glorious episodes, skewering the idiosyncrasies of a very diverse, very real family is what Modern Family does best. Take Jay and Manny's breakfast conversation, particularly our favorite little man-boy pushing his stepfather's buttons by sipping coffee, throwing in a strategically placed "si," and referring to soccer as "football." And naturally, Jay refusing to move from the intersection of cultural insensitivity and telling it like it is: "What part of Colombia are those French Toaster Sticks from?"
The central story arc of last night's show, though, was the simmering tension between Gloria and Claire, which bubbled over after the latter's dullard son revealed his mom had previously used the word "gold digger" -- "what's a coal digger?" -- to describe the world's hottest stepmom. Again, where lesser writers would struggle to make Claire likable under the circumstances, Team Modern Family diffuses her bitchery (“You heard how she said that, right? Jes!”) by saddling her with a brutally clueless husband (“She does that with everyone. It’s just her face.”) and by allowing her tart sense of humor to surface at just the right moments (like her confession that she never expected to “wake up with a new mom who looks like she fell off a mud-flap”). The final-act “if you’re really sorry, you’ll jump in the pool” scenario could’ve felt sitcom-hammy, but in the hands of the wonderful Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, it felt as natural as a kid wearing after-shave and dressing like a count.
What did you think about last night’s Modern Family? Sound off in the comments section below, but if you’re scratching your head or chuckling about my “after-shave”/”count” reference, press play on the clip below before you do.
Image Credit: Richard Cartwright/ABC