It’s the fifth episode of the season and Hallowe’en is upon us. Themed episodes can be a little tricky (or, in this case, trick-or-treaty) to pull off but, of course, Modern Family does All Hallows Eve with style and even manages to sneak up behind us with a more serious story disguised as a princess.
Claire (Julie Bowen) is not enjoying her favourite holiday this year. Her wings have been clipped by her neighbours due to an incident, or perhaps several, last Hallowe’en when she out tricked the trick-or-treaters with an Alien-inspired costume. Her antics have earned her a night in Hallowe’en enthusiast hell, a sentence handed down by the neighbours in the form of a very specific list of “don’ts” with the goal of avoiding further trauma to the neighbourhood children (“and one adult”). Children and adults alike still avoid the Dunphy house all night so Claire has to get creative. This leads to a clever horror-movie spoof sequence at Phil’s (Ty Burrell) really, really ill-timed open house. And I’ll admit, I was actually scared…during a Modern Family episode. Like, horror-movie scared. I am only a little ashamed. But Claire’s little scheme was good! It’s fun to watch her über-uptight character going overboard with such abandon. Little glimpses into this side of her remind us why her marriage to Phil is so believable.
What is totally, completely, and, to be honest, irritatingly unbelievable is how Jay (Ed O’Neill), who is struggling with his disappearing youthful charm, has to explain pregnancy hormones to Gloria (Sofía Vergara). Who is pregnant with her second child. Oh yes, before our very eyes, this savvy Columbian fails to see the possible relationship between her tempermental outbursts and her pregnancy hormone riddled limbic system until her husband clears that up for her. Having experienced some hormones of my own, I can tell you that the causal relationship between my hormones and my irrational desire to throat-punch an employee with an attitude at a my local organic grocery store was not lost on me. So Gloria being so unrealistically obtuse about her pregnancy was shocking, especially coming from this show. At least we get to see Jay’s ego re-inflated at a party where a charming woman takes a fancy to him. It is actually a man dressed, very convincingly, as a woman but I am not convinced that Jay would have minded if he had known, his character having come a long way in things of this nature.
Chez Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet), Mitch is struggling to recover from telling Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), in a fit of tiredness, that her mother is a actually a princess. The problem? Mitch and Cam had previously agreed on how to discuss Lily’s mother with her and the “princess from a faraway land” story deviated quite a bit from their carefully prepared script. Now, in a semi-tragic “awww she’s so cute” kind of way, Lily is obsessed with being a princess for Hallowe’en for the second year in a row. When Cam discovers the root of the costume preference, he and Mitch have the talk they wanted to have and it seems to go pretty well. During all of this Cam is desperate to show off his recent weight loss but will have to settle for covering up his bod in the most adorable father-daughter costume ever.
- Phil’s follow up to his infuriating statement (to Claire) that she had only really scared some people “a little” last Hallowe’en. “You literally scared a little saliva and a little urine out of a man.”
- Another one from Phil: “The world needs more dreamers, never stop licking things.”
So, I’m just gonna go ahead and call it: this was 2012’s best Hallowe’en themed television show. Was anyone else genuinely scared of Claire’s Beetlejuice-laden plot to show Phil just how scary she can be? Just me? Oh, okay.
Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on ABC