Modern Family “Summer Lovin” Review (Season 7 Premiere)

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Picking up more or less where we left off, “Modern Family” opted to cover the entire summer in one fell swoop by adopting a clever chapter-like structure for the entire episode, in the appropriately-titled “Summer Lovin.” The episode was divided into, respectively: June, July, and September. (I guess nothing major happened in August, or I simply blinked and missed it!)

When we last left the gang, Phil (Ty Burrell) had noticed that Andy (Adam DeVine) was clearly in love with his daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland) but had been unable to communicate that to his family after the visiting Armando (Horatio Sanz) had made off with Phil’s robo-tablet set-up. When we start the show, Phil finally was able to communicate the message, and Haley and mom Claire (Julie Bowen) made a mad dash to the beach to stop Andy from proposing to his girlfriend Beth (Laura Ashley Samuels).

Alas, they’re too late and don’t get there in time to stop it, which sends Haley into a bit of a downward spiral, ultimately leading her back to-shudder- the doofy Dylan (Reid Ewing), her beyond moronic ex-boyfriend. His latest endeavor is custom-made shirts that feature words that look misspelled, but are actually confusingly using a V-neck as an actual “V”! (We later see both Phil and Claire sporting them, to amusing effect.)

Things get worse when a visiting Andy overhears Phil and Claire lamenting the fact that Haley didn’t make it to the beach in time to intercept him from proposing. This, in turn, leads Andy on a downward spiral of his own, in which he starts overeating to no end, gaining a massive amount of weight over the summer, making him look like a white version of one of the “Klumps” or the cousin of that character Gwyneth Paltrow played in that “Shallow Hal” movie. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

While “fat” Andy was quite a sight, the timing was a bit off on this particular gag, in light of the whole “Fatgate” controversy, in which comedian Nicole Arbour did a video fat-shaming people and it went viral, for all the wrong reasons. I’m one of those people that’s of the mind that no topic should really be off-limits for comedians- that’s why we have freedom of speech, people- so I can’t say I was offended by it, per se, but yeah, the timing was unfortunate.

In a show known for both being enlightened about things like gay relationships and the like and being forward-thinking in general, it was a bit of a misstep, as “South Park” this show is not. Sometimes it’s all about context, and unfortunately for them, the context was a bit off, admittedly for reasons beyond the show’s control.

Moving on, on the plus side, now both Andy and Haley know how they really feel about one another, so it will be interesting to see what the fallout of that will be, especially when the potentially psycho Beth gets a hold of the information. Haley might want to watch her back! (Or her hair, for that matter.)

Meanwhile, sister Alex (Ariel Winter), in typical over-thinking mode, tried to “schedule” her break-up with her own boyfriend, fearing the statistics of long-distance relationships being doomed to fail. This resulted in a downward spiral of her own, at a much-more accelerated rate than Haley’s. In the end, Ariel opted to take a stab at the long-distance thing after all, reasoning that, because she and her boyfriend were smarter than the average couple, that they could beat the odds if anyone could. I guess we’ll see about that, but personally, I think they’re prolonging the inevitable.

Next up, there was the search for a pre-school for Joe (Pierce Wallace) by Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara). This was arguably the slightest and most uninteresting of the subplots for me, with only the bit where Jay miscalculated a cubby construction at one of the schools in a blatant attempt to get their son accepted and one of the kids got their head stuck in one of them, necessitating an intervention by the fire department making me chuckle. Okay, that and maybe Joe being implied to have killed a chicken at one point!

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But probably my favorite of the subplots was the one involving Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), still unemployed and looking for a job, who decided to become a painter, because why not? To me, this was the subplot that generated the biggest laughs by far, getting funnier the more desperate Mitchell became in his quest for greatness. I was especially tickled by his declaration of a painting as being called “The Rape of the Immigrant.” Now THAT’S how you do edgy humor on a show like this.

It was also nice to see Charlie (Justin Kirk) again, as self-involved and hilariously un-PC as ever. I presume that Mitchell will probably end up working for him again, which is fine by me, because Kirk knows how to deliver some of the more obtuse lines he’s given with amusing aplomb. (I especially liked the one about dating actresses and models and how he’d never tried it with his having been a painter at the time, like that would make a difference!)

That was about it, but it was enough. The show remains as sharp and funny as ever, and if the whole “fat Andy” thing was a bit unfortunate, timing-wise, it was hardly enough to derail the whole process. I’m going to go ahead and give the MVP award to Mitchell, who got in the best- and cattiest- lines of the episode, by far. My personal favorite was when he snapped at Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), referencing his tendency to over-spend and how much it was costing them: “Oh, you walked over here. I thought you Uber-ed everywhere.” LOL. That one about had me choking on my dinner.

I also got a kick out of Luke’s (Nolan Gould) punny-but-funny quip to Haley, when she announced she knew what beach Andy liked: “I thought you were the ‘beach’ he likes.” Stupid, yes, but I thought it was cute. Finally, there was Dylan’s overly-confident declaration, when Haley asked him to grab her a plate of food: “If I can make a bong out of a carrot, then I can get you a plate.” Now THAT I’d like to see. (The carrot bong, not the plate.)

All in all, a solid enough episode, I thought, and good harbinger that the show will retain the funny moving forward. What did you think of the “Modern Family” premiere? Did you laugh as much as I did, or were you a bit letdown? What was your favorite subplot? Do you think Haley and Andy will get back together? What will Beth do if they do? Will Mitchell end up working for Charlie again? Will Gloria and Jay ever get the destructive Joe into a pre-school? Sound off on this and more down below!