'Modern Family': Scrapbooking and the Afterlife

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ABC


In last night's episode Cam and Mitchell write a children's book for gay parents only to find out that the field is littered with similar titles. I couldn't help thinking the same about this week's episode—the basic plot was the same as all the others, it just had a few new updates to spruce it up. Modern Family is at its best when the stories are interspersed and build off of each other, but this week each story stands alone. Still, while it doesn't shine for originality, "Two Monkey's and a Panda" has its entertaining moments.

The episode starts out with the least exciting and least original storyline—Claire is overworked and Phil tries to help her out, this week with an expiring spa certificate which she doesn't have time to use. The main source of Claire's stress is a side story about Alex and Hailey sharing clothing. (Alex borrows a new sweater. When Hailey complains, Alex responds that Hailey also borrows her clothing without asking. Hailey: The one with the guy from Back to the Future on it? Alex: That's Albert Einstein!) Lugging her enormous cello—the violin was "too happy"—Alex rips the sweater on the door and Claire, anxious for her daughters to get along, spends the rest of the episode looking for a replacement. In the meantime, as was expected, Phil, unable to extend the expiration date, redeems the certificate himself, gaining knowledge on the female psyche from his newfound gal pals—in summary, she doesn't want you to solve she wants you to support her.

Also a familiar storyline is the Cam and Mitchell one, but for some reason it always seems a bit fresher. Mitchell comes home to find that Cam has decided to create a positive aura around the word "adoption," something he learned from an episode of Oprah. He decides to create a scrapbook—called "Two Monkeys and a Panda" (Lily's the panda because she's Asian, they're the monkeys because Cam can draw monkeys)—only to discover that Mitchell (who has taken over all the paperwork since Cam signed up for a 12 year gym membership—"the more you spend the more you save") didn't hyphenate Lily's last name on the birth certificate. Mitchell tries to make up for it by finishing the scrap book and reading it to Cam and Lily. When Lily hears "adoption" she claps, and, as Mitchell says, "Just like that, peace returned to our house." (Technically his house, but he plans on fixing that as well.)

Gloria and Jay are always reliable, but mostly because of the role that Manny plays in their relationship. Jay and Manny live somewhat parallel lives—in this episode Manny is also with a younger woman—and exchange words of wisdom, though Jay always manages to go a bit too far. This week Jay is excited about looking at their future burial spots; Gloria, understandably is not. To add to Gloria's case, when they arrive at the burial spots their future "neighbors" come by to meet them, explaining that they "made a point to get to know everyone in the neighborhood. We think it makes it less awkward, you know later." When they notice how young Gloria is they get nervous that she might change her mind about being buried there and they'll be left lying next to a complete stranger—to which Gloria appropriately responds, "I think they have a great point and are not crazy AT ALL." When they get home Manny and Jay have a heart to heart about how they deal with their younger women.

Manny: Today I made a joke about the Wiggles. It went right over her head

Jay: I don't know what that is.

Manny: It's an expression. It means she didn't' get it.

In addition to the funniest lines, Manny usually has the wisest ones. He explains to Jay that all these guys chased Gloria ("I think one of them was a Kennedy"), but she chose Jay, falling in love with him after their first fight, feeling like she had met her match.

Now if only Phil had some advice from Manny as well.

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Miriam Krule writes for and produces The Atlantic's International channel.

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