'Modern Family' recap: Warning -- Shelley Long is a choking hazard!

modern-famiily_lJust when you think Modern Family can’t get any funnier, it does. And I say that both about the series generally and last night’s episode specifically. The casting of Shelley Long as Jay’s passive-aggressive (except when violently aggressive) yet sexually reactivated ex-wife was a stroke of genius, especially because Long’s presence brought out heretofore unseen yet completely believable aspects of her children’s personalities. Certainly, DeDe’s arrival shed light on the origins of Claire’s scathing sarcasm (“Oh, Uncle Toby! I’ll be sure to include that in my Amber alert.”) and Mitchell’s need to prove his maturity and independence, which resulted in one of the night’s best lines: “We’re all gonna move past this. And because of me, who’s not a mama’s boy, but is a caring person with wisdom and emotional insight. So make a note, bitches!” And while DeDe’s linguistically hidden jabs at Julie Bowen’s Claire owed something to Arrested Development, that didn’t make the exchanges any less funny:

DeDe: “Why so long?”
Claire: “I know, I know. It’s weird when we haven’t talked for a while.”
DeDe: “I mean your hair.”

Of course, a lot of Modern Family‘s laughs originate not just from the punch lines (which are generally as sharp as the discarded lid on an aluminum can), but also from the cast’s priceless reaction shots. Take the way Claire and Mitchell stood up and turned away in horror after their mother declared that while guilt was stopping her from being fully intimate with her new beau, “We do things to each other. We use our hands.” That was just as good as Mitchell’s horrified utteranaces (“Cant. Don’t want.”) when DeDe had previously brought up activity “down there.”

My award for Episode MVP, though, has to go to Eric Stonestreet’s Cameron, who scored many of the night’s best moments despite being peripheral to the action. I loved how that bitchy barb about his mother-in-law shifted instantly into a sunny salutation when he looked up and saw Mitchell’s mother had, in fact, arrived unexpectedly from out of town: “The last time she was here the refrigerator magnets rearranged themselves into a pentag…grandma!” And that home-video shot of him using the exercise equipment (though not the lettuce dryer) at Christmas was brilliant in its percolating hostility, a perfect pairing with his confessional voiceover. “To recap: I gave her a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings, and she gave me a hint.” (Also: “That’s not a good color on you.”)

Perhaps most impressive of all, though, was the way the episode pulled a fast one, setting up another gut-bustingly funny interlude immediately after I thought we’d gotten to the “teaching/touching moment” (i.e. the place where the laughs come to a screeching halt on most sitcoms). Here we had Haley’s boyfriend, putting the family blowout — with DeDe’s hands wrapped around glorious Gloria’s throat — in perspective with this monologue about Haley and her relatives: “She’s got this killer confidence. You know, the kind of confidence you get from having a family like this, that’s passionate and accepting of hot foreigners and gay dudes and nutty people. You know, a family that actually loves each other.” I guess that gooey sentiment left me unprepared for Dylan’s subsequent performance of “In the Moonlight.” The less said about the song the better. Press play below and enjoy, and do head to the comments section to share your thoughts on last night’s Modern Family.

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

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  • LT

    Just watched Dylan’s Video for In The Moonlight on Youtube and I literally have tears streaming down my face. I actually woke up singing that song!

    • Brian

      LT is right. Dylan’s video is hilarious.

      • Badger31201

        “underneath the willow tree/ wearing nothing else but me”… LOL. I would love to see this song chart!

      • LT

        and now we’re hiding in my car
        I let you see my scars

        Oh, man- good stuff. Thanks Brian for posting the video!

  • strickens_girl

    The best was everyone singing the song at the end. Especially Cam and Mitchell trying to harmonize. This show is just brilliant.

    • Coconutty

      Yep, that was the best part! I also loved when Phil said ‘I got Gloria’ when they were breaking up her and DeDe’s fight.

      • ericalina

        I had to rewind that part three times because I thought it was so funny. I did that last week when Phil came in the house and was like, “I have to rest my face…I was in a plane crash.”

      • HD

        Yeah, I think that might have been the funniest part. He “got” Gloria a couple of times. Love the actress who plays her, too! Love all of them.

      • Jack

        Finally caught this show last night and it was as good as everyone says it is. Great stuff all around, but Phil has some of the best lines, especially when talking to his daughter: “What’s up Sweathog?”

      • mississippigirl

        i think “i got gloria”, repeated several times, was the best line!

  • KC

    I was laughing so hard at this show last night! I am glad that I DVRed it, because I had to pause I was laughing so hard! I agree with the MVP going to Eric Stonestreet’s Cameron. He is getting better and better with each show! He is quickly becoming my favorite character! I love how everyone on this show is so well rounded. I can’t get enough of this show! Keep it coming!!

  • Hannah

    I’m so in love with this show. Nothing else this season has made me laugh so hard.

  • Chad

    funniest episode yet!

  • ericalina

    the last thirty seconds with everyone singing was PRICELESS. each week i like every character more and more.

    hayley is like a young mila kunis.

    • Vivi

      Right on the money with the Hayley comparison to Mila Kunis.
      I absolutely love this show. I like ALL of the characters. But I may be leaning towards the 10yr going on 35yr old little man. Him giving advice (and then reassurance) to Claire was too cute.

    • CIP

      Loved those last seconds. Mitchell and Cam trying to harmonize. lol

      • Tab

        Now that you mention it…she does!! She reminds me of a young Christina Ricci circa “Ghost World” too.

  • curly

    I am so happy to see someone writing about this new show. I am enjoying it more each week-its my new favorite show this season. I finally started to tell others to watch it, since everytime I like a show, it gets cancelled. I loved the mother/daughter scenes, so truthful and biting. I never cared for Ed O’Neil on Married w/Children, but here he sets just the right tone for this nutty family. This show really captures the real side of families only with a tad more humor injected. Love this show!!

    • laura

      Onces American Idol starts … Michael Slezak will leave us. He always leave us wanting more of his recaps but he does make up for it with the recaps of A I.

      • Melanie

        I’m glad he was reporting it, though – it was reading these recaps that got me watching the show. Thank god for hulu.com!

  • laura

    Phil yelling ‘ I got Gloria, I got Gloria’ … LOL!!!

    • irvin

      Yeah that whole ending what hysterical, but the whole Phil, “I got Gloria” part was funny as heck and the look she gave him was priceless.

      • shonna

        agree – i laugh just looking at the facial expressions of every character in each scene.

    • Melissa

      Haha that was hilarious! Love Phil.

  • Brent

    This was the BEST episode yet! I am loving this show! And loving you, Michael Slezak, even more!

  • Abe

    LMAO! “I got Gloria! I got Gloria!”

    “She gave me a hint”

    …. LMFAO!!!!!!!

  • Matt

    I LOVE this show and The Middle so much

  • AGlambert

    Best comedy on this season…Love it!

  • michelle

    The “I got Gloria” part was hilarious. I also loved Cameron’s line about the fish that carries its babies in its mouth would think that Mitchell’s relationship with his mother is messed up. Love this show!

    • crispy

      I loved the fish story! At this point, I want Cameron to be a real person so I can hang out with him in bars and talk crap about people.

      • mkaffeine

        Oh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who fantasizes about being Cameron’s BFF!

      • Carly

        ME TOO!!

    • Lorie

      I laughed so hard after Cameron’s story about the fish. I watched this scene 5x last night. Definitely my favorite!

  • zoot

    loved Mitchell’s “mommy” and Claire’s “daddy” moment!!!

    • crispy

      That part was funny to me… but a little bit uncomfortable because my brother and I have had that same conversation.

  • LisaMama

    Cam is my favorite! “That’s not a good color on you.” Hilarious!

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