I can’t say I was expecting a full-out Godfather homage from Modern Family, but “Fulgencio” gives us one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That it was spearheaded by Phil made it all the better, and his entire arc, turning from “killing with kindness” to ruthless vengeance, was a great story for the show to hinge around, and made pretty good use of all three kids. (And Dylan! Who I wish was around a little more often.)
It’s all very silly, but Ty Burrell carries it out excellently, and the commitment to parody in the sequence at end was remarkable, and something Modern Family could stand to do more frequently – not necessarily shot-for-shot parodies (one of these every great while is enough), but rather, experimenting with the structure, and being willing to shrug off the mockumentary format when necessary for a good gag.
I wish I could stay as positive about the rest of the episode, which didn’t quite work with me to the same level. Most disappointing was the Cam and Mitchell story, which was fine for what it was, but didn’t really have any jokes that were actually funny. Sure, the reveal that Lily’s snark was really coming from Claire is a cute enough button on the thing, but it didn’t make up for all the rest.
And as for the business involving Gloria’s family, who have come in to see the new baby, I’m almost equally as ambivalent. Nothing in there was fundamentally terrible, but nothing was all that interesting, either. Most fascinating was the reveal that Gloria kind of betrayed her sister to better her life, leaving her sister in the dust, but even that wasn’t executed very well. It’s a weird, dark place for the show to go, and it ties it off with a nice happy bow of buying stuff, which is deeply unsatisfying. Maybe that kind of deep family trauma is appropriate for “Fulgencio” in its attempt to mimic The Godfather, but it’s a poor fit for Modern Family‘s usually-bouncy sitcom style.