‘Modern Family’ recap: “The Help”

Gay marriage, male nannies, and widows dating clashed together like cymbals. Last week’s sour episode makes the way to a much more comfortable episode – not a great one – it was disappointing how easily predictable the plots were – especially the gay marriage subplot.

So, let’s start with that one: if you all remember, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) are at odds over the wedding plans. Cam’s ideas are obviously outlandish and gaudy, while Mitch is super A-type. So they hire their pal, Pepper (Nathan Lane) to whip up a gorgeous wedding – and of course, his ideas are insane (Cam and Mitch ride a unicorn down the aisle). Pepper’s assistant Renaldo, hijacks the planning with his more tasteful ideas, and Mitch and Cam are “cheating” on their friend with Renaldo. Lane’s a card, but it’s a tired plot – and some folks on Twitter remarked how close this story mirrors an episode of Seinfeld, “The Barber.”

The Jay/Gloria storyline is pretty thin, which is per usual for them, which is a shame because Gloria Vergara and Ed O’Neill are fantastic together. Gloria, unnerved by the line of nannies, hires a male nanny, or a “manny,” which gave way to the obligatory pun on Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Jay and Manny are weirded out by this super-manny and fire him, much to Gloria’s loud protests. It’s a nothing episode, and it’s very First World problem.

The best of the trio of stories is the Dunphy plot with Phil (Ty Burrell) trying to help his dad, Frank (Fred Willard) get over a breakup. Jay takes the two out for a boys night out, and the next day Phil’s pop comes into the kitchen asking for five hundred bucks to pay for his hooker (Peri Gilpin). Claire (Julie Bowen) mistakens the prostie for a therapist, but the ruse quickly (too quickly) collapses when she gives some salty advise to Alex and Haley (Ariel Winter and Sarah Hyland). As with the gay marriage plot, this one ties up pretty predictably: the hooker, who has a heart of gold, helps out after all, convincing Frank to go back to his girlfriend.

There’s a definite sense of laziness to this season – it’s coasting on that Emmy win, and so-so episodes like this one, don’t help. I also feel like the show doesn’t use its strongest assets: namely Bowen, O’Neill, and Vergara – all of whom have been noticeably subdued this season.

Some random thoughts:

  • As tired as her role was, it was a real treat to see Fraiser‘s Peri Gilpin as the hooker slash therapist. She not only aged magnificently, but hasn’t lost her throaty sexiness. And she provided the one true laugh-out-loud moment with her “That skank be stabbed” quip.
  • I’m a huge fan of Nathan Lane and thought Pepper is a great character, but found him grating in this episode – maybe because the character finally crossed the line from comic exaggeration to minstrel.
  • Fred Willard is always welcome as Frank Dunphy.
  • Aubrey Anderson-Emmons has a cute scene all to herself during the credits where she gets to mug in irritation while her dads and Pepper gush about their nuptials.


Filed under Comedy, Sitcom, Television

2 responses to “‘Modern Family’ recap: “The Help”

  1. C

    Fred Willard, not Ward

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