Comedic misunderstandings are one of the old standbys that sitcoms use throughout their run. If done correctly, it’s an easy source of laughs and an easy way to fill some script pages. It’s a common trope, but it really takes some thoughtfulness to pull it off in a comical and competent way. Tonight, Modern Family gave us just such an example.
The perfect candidate for the classic gay misunderstanding was Phil. He’s just friendly enough to make it seem to a gay man that he’s hitting on them, and just oblivious enough to situations to be able to convincingly act like he has no idea what’s going on. I was fully prepared for the disappointing ending featuring the stock come-on by Matthew Broderick’s character. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised when they took a slightly different turn at the end and had Broderick’s character call it off to a still oblivious Phil. Watching Phil play back the kiss in his mind after Broderick left was good work by Ty Burrell. I was glad to see that they even resisted the urge to do some form “So that’s what that was.” Phil’s happy-go-lucky nature was the perfect person to use in this storyline.
I was slightly disappointed in Claire’s storyline this week. It felt she was regressing into a version of herself that I hoped the writers had buried after last season. Still, I’m find with the occasional neurotic moments, but I would have liked to have seen the scene at the water slide to show that more easygoing side of her that is far more palatable to the nagging harpy that she was for the bulk of last season.
While Alex dealt with an overbearing mom, we finally got to see Tessa’s completely distant mother on Suburgatory. Played competently by Malin Ackerman of Couples Retreat fame, Tessa’s mom can take the show in numerous directions. It’s all going to depend on just how serious Emily Kapnek wants to get with this storyline. There are plenty of worst case scenarios that could cause this relationship to be painted in a weird light. However, there are plenty of ways to handle it that add to George and Tessa’s relationship going forward. Regardless of their plan for the character, the people at Suburgatory clearly just gave the show some extra life. I’m not sure I fully trust Kapnek with this storyline, but there’s a chance that it turns into something really fascinating.
As a quick aside, I want to mention the Shay’s Thanksgiving. Typically, I become instantly disinterested when the Shay family gathers around the dinner table. This week, I found the addition of Malik and the trouble it caused to be quite delightful. Malik’s always been a fun character to play off of, and Mrs. Shay got a good opportunity here to have some fun with the character’s interactions. Well done by both parties.
What did everyone else think of ABC’s Wednesday comedies?