Tonight’s episode, “Dance Dance Revelation,” looked at how the family’s adults deal with their clashing personalities when feeling confronted. It was definitely not my favorite of the season—didn’t pack quite as many laugh out loud moments as usual. I thought that all three storylines had strong potential (and of course served several great lines) but failed to move the needle and push these characters forward into new territory. Maybe what I was really missing were the girls—Hayley and Alex! I feel like whenever one or several of the kids are missing, I always like the episode a little less because (besides the fact that these child actors are awesome) I could have seen more comedic possibility had they been in the episode.
Let’s take the Claire and Gloria turf war on the dance committee. Both women were in their true fighting form—Claire wanting to be in complete control and Gloria wanting to prove she can be a mom with more than a pretty face (and hot body). Side note: I personally always have a tough time feeling for Claire when she is jealous of Gloria’s hot body when Julie Bowen’s body is certainly in better shape than 99% of women. Claire completely cut Gloria out of her role as a co-chair of the school dance committee because this is Claire’s “one thing.” Naturally, Gloria showed up to decorate anyways and Claire entered full jealous mode and tried to mark her territory by basically acting like a brat. I feel like we just saw something so similar to this same set-up on the Halloween episode (which was executed brilliantly and was one of this season’s BEST) when Claire was upset that her control over her “one thing” (Halloween in that case) was being threatened. We get it—Claire is a control freak who apparently has a lot of “one things” that are her domain. And we also get that Gloria is often the target of her jealousy. I just wished they pushed this idea forward more in this episode, or added a different twist. Also, considering that it was a dance for the boys of the family, I would have liked to see some sub-plots involving them and their dates (or lack of dates). Wouldn’t that have been a good opportunity for Hayley to offer her worldly wisdom on how to score at a dance, which could then be followed by Alex’s wisecracks? And would Manny and Luke really have danced with their mothers at the end? Isn’t that social suicide in middle school?
Speaking of Manny and Luke, I liked the set-up of the boys each needing clothing items for the dance and having to go to the mall with Jay and Phil. And I loved Manny getting highly irritated that Luke was encroaching upon his teal style choices. Also, of course Manny needs a pocket square for his outfit, and of course Cam has one—if only his friend wasn’t borrowing it. Something about the Jay and Phil standoff over how pushy to be didn’t quite do it for me. Sometimes Phil can be too much of a pushover and Jay can be too much of a hard ass, and in this episode we got both at once. And I cringed when Phil snapped and chased the cologne man around the mall spraying him.
Finally, Mitch and Cam were confronted with Lily’s biting behavior and disagreed over how to handle it. Of course no parent wants to believe their child is capable of being the bad kid on the playground. Mitch even commented that the park moms were playing their favorite game: “Blame it on the gay dads.” Unfortunately, Lily really was entering a biting phase (although I have to agree that the adorable little Lily looks like she wouldn’t hurt a fly). It made sense that Mitchell was ready to turn to stern physical cues to break the habit (pepper is just a spice after all!) while Cam was making up hippie-kumbaya songs about how it is not nice to bite. Other than his hilarious song, the highlight was definitely when Cam and Mitch got into their own physical fight over it, with Lily looking on calmly.
A few of the best moments that had some bite to them:
- Gloria offering her teal bra to Manny for use as a pocket square.
- Jay using a sports reference to Manny when explaining there was a snafu with Cam’s pocket square, and Manny’s response: “What does that mean?”
- “If our daughter [was biting] we would be on her like white on rice.” Which Cam admits does sound a little racist, given he and Mitchell are white and Lily is Vietnamese
- “Ahh it’s like Twilight back here” (Cam getting bit by Lily)
- “OK, don’t bite my head off, I’m not a pack of batteries” (Cam to Mitch, referring to Mitchell’s tendency to bite packaging open)
- The parking spot stealer has a dead dog named “Spot”
- “If I said it was white, he’d say it was black. Although, he never said anything was black…he was a pretty big racist.” (Jay about his own father-in-law).
- “I water-boarded our toddler, LOL” (Cam mocking the mommy-blogger advice to use physical tactics to stop biting).
I also thought the end speech by Phil, about parenting being something you are never really prepared for, was a little off. He spoke of parenting being a tough job that no one is ever really ready for (hence you just fake it), but I didn’t exactly see that shine through in any of the stories. I would have to say it was more about letting go of our territoriality tendencies every now and then, and opening up to new ways of looking at things.