Normally, Modern Family splits its plots between the three families, making them all intersect at some point towards the climax of the episode. “Bad Hair Day” deviates a little from that, and spins off all 3 of its stories from one source at the start; namely, the Jay and Gloria household. It’s a nice way to structure things, and makes for a perfectly serviceable episode of television.
We’ll start with the most disconnected of the three stories. After Jay kicks Phil off his company bowling team, he’s freed up to attend Claire’s school reunion. This isn’t fantastic news for Claire, who was hoping to play a little game of “what-if” with herself with the professor she used to date. There’s some standard sitcom married-couple strife for a bit, but then the whole thing is conveniently solved by the appearance of the professor’s actual, overworked and underfunded wife.
Elsewhere, Mitchell and Cameron are preparing for an Oscars party, in what appeared to be, based on the advertising, some kind of mandatory thing for ABC shows this week. The marketing synergy mostly doesn’t get in the way, and it’s integrated with the well-established character trait of posing children for costumed pictures, so I wasn’t bothered. Once they have to take care of baby Joe, thanks to Gloria’s twisted ankle, he’s substituted in, and a Lily glues a wig to his head. The wig antics with the baby, and what they led to, are the only jokes that really worked for me tonight. The sequence that closes the episode, with several members of the family trading in favors to take the blame for Joe’s bad haircut, was excellently done.
That sequence also tied in with Manny’s drama regarding a singing solo, which is the backbone of some flimsy action between him and Jay. They go shopping to try and cheer Manny up, and there’s some business with Jay riding a car alongside a bus, which was cute enough, but to be honest, this plot kid of felt incomplete and floppy to me. In fact, floppy is a great way to describe “Bad Hair Day” as a whole. The episode delivers what fans of Modern Family come to see, namely, the characters acting as we want them to, but it fails to distinguish itself.