Bixby’s back, baby. As in Clive Bixby—the turtleneck-wearing speaker who picked up the lovely Juliana at a hotel bar last Valentine’s Day. Yes, Claire and Phil decide to revisit their alter-ego lovers this year in hopes of a better outcome (i.e. not accidentally losing “panties” in front of Jay in the hotel lobby). Getting a success story out of Valentine’s Day turns out to be a challenge not only for the Dunphy duo, but for our other couples as well.
Claire and Phil originally decide to have a more low-key romantic night given last year’s debacle. They are just going to have a nice dinner at Ibiza, correctly pronounced by Alex in Spanish with the “th” sound for the “z” (side note: I love that Alex corrects her parents and often acts more like the parent. And, I would love to watch Love Actually with Alex, even if via phone!). Once at the restaurant at the early bird time, Claire sees Phil act like the old men and realizes she does not want to be that old yet. So it is Juliana to the rescue, as Claire proposes they re-engage their other identities for the night at their favorite hotel. What makes their alter-ego banter hilarious is the fact that Claire is so good at playing it serious to the point that Phil doesn’t get when she is just playing; whereas Phil never quite gets where to draw the line. Their fake roles almost exaggerate their true identities, thus the exasperated eye-rolls from Claire when “Clive Bixby” makes comments such as, “I’ve been lying to my wife for 16 years.”
It wouldn’t be Claire and Phil (and Modern Family) if their plans did not get foiled. Phil accidentally grabs the wrong room key—or is it a gift card—from the bar and winds up in another woman’s room…wearing just socks and a smile on the bed. Since Clive Bixby and Juliana are officially banned from the hotel, they decide to make their own bedroom at home a private retreat without the kids knowing. And here is where I was REALLY hoping that the loud new bedroom lock from the “Caught in the Act” episode would make another disturbing click noise. It didn’t…but instead, we got the loud sound of Dylan serenading his lost love Hayley with his rock band. Poor Manny—he tried so hard to put the moves on his sort-of-single step-cousin, yet she went running back into the arms of Dylan. Oh how I missed the amazing teenage-angst relationship that was Hayley and Dylan. I am looking forward to more from this young couple.
Cam and Mitchell also found their plans not turning out as expected, but from their own ego showdown. It seems that Mitchell’s gay assistant, Broderick, was semi sabotaging Mitch’s plans with Cam, from not delivering the flowers Cam sent to scheduling Mitch in a late meeting on Valentine’s Day. Even though both Mitch and Cam originally suspect that this is because Broderick has a crush on Mitch, Cam learns directly from Broderick that he is the one Broderick likes (nice call-back to Cam going everywhere in his bike shorts!). The competitive streak we have seen before in both Cam and Mitch comes into play, as each one is convinced that he himself is the object of Broderick’s crush, not the other. I like that this little spat doesn’t ever get resolved…even after telling each other it doesn’t matter, they both still tell the camera that it does. And then they chase down the cute delivery boy who flirts with…one of them? But which one?!
Speaking of competitive spirit, Jay and Gloria practically treat Valentine’s Day like an episode of Survivor—Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Jay is determined to not blow Valentine’s Day this year, so he opts for the ultimate fake out that will offer the true meaning of the holiday: making your significant other feel like an idiot! He plans to take Gloria to the fancy-schmancy Ibiza restaurant, but purposely not be able to get a table. This way, Gloria would be furious and then be surprised to arrive home to a private chef and romantic meal. More importantly, she will be embarrassed and ramble on and on in Spanish about how foolish she was to get so angry. Imagine Jay’s surprise, then, when first they do get a table at Ibiza (but fortunately are saved by a “big gay angel” in the form of Cam arriving for his Pritchett reservation) and then they arrive home to…nothing. Turns out Gloria actually got wind of his plan and turned the tables on him, literally. She has the romantic meal set up in the garage along with a new motorcycle for Jay. The highlight of this storyline is Gloria’s amazing fierceness in exclaiming her Valentine’s Day victory: “Shut up, I win.”
While I do think it is going to be a tough order for an episode of Modern Family (or any thirty-minute sitcom) to top the laugh-out-loud hilarity of “Caught in the Act,” this episode still brought amusing moments and relatable quirks for our beloved couples, further showing us why they really do belong together.
Some of my favorite moments:
- “Oh, thanks honey, that reminds me, this weekend I want to see that baby panda at the thzoo” -Phil making fun of Alex’s [correct] Spanish pronunciation of Ibiza using the “th” sound for the “z.” Great continuity with Alex’s storyline of being frustrated with her not-so-cultured parents.
- “I know Phil and I are going to grow old together some day, but today is not that day” (Claire deciding they SHOULD spice up their V-Day).
- “She’s had the romantic. She’s had the intellectual. How about all of that in one little brown package?” (Manny is in it to win it when it comes to his step-cousin Hayley). Kind of reminds me of Michael Bluth on Arrested Development.
- “Did I validate you?” (assistant Broderick to Cam); “Oh yes” (Cam feeling validated in more ways than just his parking).
- Clive grabbing Juliana for a passionate kiss at the bar, and getting an unexpected surprise: a mouthful of her appletini
- “I haven’t been single since I was nine!” (Hayley freaking out over breaking things off with smarty David).
- Dylan’s awesome song to win Hayley back, which included lyrics such as, “Imagine me naked”
- “Am I a bad parent for ignoring that?” (Claire hearing Dylan’s song outside); “Oh you’re bad” (Clive Bixby).
What did you love about Modern Family’s Valentine’s Day?