First of all, a big thank you to Amanda for guest-blogging last week’s Modern Family while I was on a business trip! Second, ever since I saw the commercials for this week’s episode I was crying out in hysterical fits of laughter—I rewound the commercials several times to catch the kids’ reactions from walking in on Claire and Phil in bed. The only question I had was whether the entire episode could live up to the hilarious preview. And now that I have seen “Caught in the Act” I am happy to report that it was a comedy class act!
I will start with the Cam and Mitchell storyline only because it worked independently from the other stories tonight. Lily must hang in a very influential crowd, because this is not the first time they have needed Lily to turn on her charms to score at a play date. Not that Lily has to try—she must be the cutest and most well-behaved baby on TV! Cam and Mitchell find out that Lily’s little classmate has a single mother who happens to be the owner of the hottest new neighborhood restaurant. I loved when Cam and Mitch bat their eyes and feign surprise in learning she is “that Amelia” in efforts to get VIP treatment.
After overhearing Amelia unleash all fury on an incompetent worker, they enter full panic mode upon spilling strawberry juice onto her pricey carpet. In true Cam mode, he obsesses over the exact type of carpet it is and which Hollywood legend owns the same kind, while Mitchell tries to focus him on problem-solving solutions. All of the antics build up to a great climax when our favorite gay duo first decides to tell the truth in their “defining moment,” then freaks out and places the blame on Amelia’s son saying he drank the juice, then deals with the fall-out of Amelia sounding like a four-alarm fire because her son is allergic to strawberries. “His arms!!!!!” she screams at Cam and Mitchell while barking orders to tend to her son’s potential allergic reaction.
I think this play date gone horribly wrong was a strong story for Mitch and Cam because it showcased their excessive tendencies and compulsions to try to make the best impression possible…and because they had ulterior motives for doing so. The fact that their lie backfired miserably was just icing on the ‘caught in the act’ cake! And now that I have already written far too much about this one story, I still need to dive into the real highlight of this evening—the disaster at the Dunphy household.
Where do I even start with the happenings at the Dunphy house (and the eventual misunderstanding with Jay and Gloria)? I cannot even do this episode justice—you just need to watch it (several times). As Phil would (and did) say, it was “on fire.” It all started innocently enough—the Dunphy kids want to treat their parents to a special anniversary breakfast in bed, while Gloria needs to send Claire an email about not helping with the upcoming bake sale.
Hayley, Alex and Luke accidentally barge in on their parents, “as they say, having sex” (thanks for the carefully worded explanation, Phil!). The reaction shots are priceless. It is like a war movie—everyone is screaming, people are running, there is crying and objects are flying around the room. The resulting fall-out is just as traumatic. The kids run and take shelter downstairs, while Claire and Phil hole up in their bedroom to assess the situation. I think my favorite moments (and this is a tough call) have to be Alex vehemently rubbing soap and water in her eyes while exclaiming, “I can still see it,” and Luke offering his take on what he just saw: “Whatever it was, it looked like dad was winning.” Meanwhile, Claire and Phil each react in a way that is very consistent with their characters: Phil is laid back and even quite proud of his wife’s zesty performance; while Claire the control freak is beyond mortified that she has forever scarred her babies.
When Claire and Phil still have not emerged from their room, and Luke wonders out loud “how long does sex take?” the kids decide they must flee the house immediately. They run into Jay and Gloria, who have arrived to smooth the waters after Gloria accidentally sent a harsh email about Claire to Claire regarding an upcoming bake sale. Cue a major misunderstanding between the Dunphy and Pritchett segments of the family, as Jay and Gloria think Claire is upset about the mean email while Claire and Phil think that Jay and Gloria heard about their embarrassing morning. We are treated to more priceless reactions as Gloria explains she has had such a situation [with email] happen to her and another women, and begs Claire to give her a chance [on the bake sale] and “taste my cupcakes.” Poor Phil can barely remain standing.
Of course the whole misunderstanding gets cleared up—after Gloria hilariously tries to hack into Claire’s email account while Claire and Jay prove that adult father-daughter sex talks are just as painful. And ultimately, the Dunphy children realize that their parents doing it is at least a sign their parents are still in love…but that doesn’t make the follow-up conversation any less awkward. Good thing they all know how to just smile and nod along to get through uncomfortable situations—they will need that skill every time they hear the new super-super lock click shut on their parents’ door.
This episode might have one of the highest densities of laugh-out-loud moments in 20-ish minutes of television programming. Just a small sampling of some great moments:
- “Make it come back. It sended. Please come back” (Gloria experiencing that “oh shit” moment when you realize you just sent an email you did not mean to). But it is even funnier with her accent.
- Mitch and Cam struggling with their two dinner reservation options of early bird versus 10 pm: “What are we, 80?…What are we, 20?”
- “You were on fire, lady!” (Phil congratulating his wife); “Really?” (Claire not amused at the timing of Phil’s compliment).
- “That’s how they always look at us” (Phil telling Claire not to worry if the kids view them with judgment and disgust after what they witnessed).
- Luke knows what sex is: “It’s when a man and a woman take off their underpants and then get into bed.” “Stop talking!!” (Hayley)
- Phil eating the spilled food off the floor and assuring Claire that this situation is not as bad as when she once walked in on her parents, “First of all, we’re not your parents, we are in much better shape.”
- Phil’s knock-knock joke about the importance of knocking first.
- Jay asking the kids (he THINKS about the email mishap): “Where was your father when all this was going on?”; “He was right behind her” (Luke).
- The kids sitting at the gas station…in their PJs still…and Alex’s reasoning that they are lucky to be alive given their parents’ less-than-stellar parenting skills.
- “The irony is just occurring to me” (Jay’s lie about the bad email Claire received being naked pictures of Gloria).
- “We’re not sorry about what happened, we’re sorry you saw what happened” (along with lots of words like sexuality and sensuality during the family discussion).
I know a lot of sitcoms have tackled kids (or even adult ‘kids’) seeing or hearing their parents gettin’ busy. Remember on Friends when Monica is hiding in her parents’ bathtub at her father’s 50th birthday party when her parents enter the room for a quickie? Even though this “caught in the act” situation has been done before, I think Modern Family successfully gave it its own unique spin of intersecting stories and character reactions that stayed true to the distinct personalities involved. Did you, like me, think this episode was a comedy class act?