Another episode of Modern Family only means another twenty-one minutes of hysteric laughter with a punch of meaningful life lessons. Modern Family’s eighth episode of their third season, After the Fire, was no different; it was saturated with quick-witted humor and ironic circumstances that always seem to put the characters into some sort of a bind. However, something about the way that this episode spoke out was unique and not in a good way.
The typically clear and enrapturing plot line was thrown away in a choppy, multidirectional plot that strayed away from a concise and engaging story. Yes, Modern does enjoy employing separate plot lines that are closely connected and ironic, yet in this episode the effort came off as forced. The underlying story of Claire Dunphy and Gloria Pritchet rallying together to help out the neighbors after their house burned down was lost in the frenzy of Jay hurting his back, Luke and Manny stealing a toy helicopter, Cam, Haley, and Alex driving a moving van, Mitchell and Claire talking smack about Gloria, and the developments of those stories as well. Seems hard to track it all, doesn’t it? Well just try to watch the episode without mixing up whose doing what, where, when, and why.
Nevertheless, there was something redeeming about this episode: the fact that Modern Family still retained its quick-witted, bantering humor among the characters. All of the characters always have their minor quarrels that erupt into larger, more awkward debacles and this episode followed the same amusing scheme. Yet, there was, again, something obscure that didn’t resonate right within this episode. The playful banter with the characters constant criticism of one another was unoriginal and stole from other episodes and seasons. I often thought to myself while watching if for some reason this episode acted as a culmination of typical jokes among the characters and that the writer felt would help establish the stereotypes of the characters more. This becomes readily apparent within the first 5 minutes when Claire gossips about Gloria’s accent and mocking her “snickersnackers”. Just after she explains to Mitchell, “That’s what we do; when Gloria says something silly we innocently laugh behind her back.” It sounded awkward and out of place when she pointed out the audience; it seemed like a corny effort to jump out at the crowd to remind them why her character is funny. Claire’s example of “explaining why she’s funny” fell through with most every character as they went through their personas and described them through humor.
As an adamant “Modern” fan, it was disappointing to see how this episode panned out. I wish that After the Fire didn’t have to come under too much fire and fortunately the next episode restored all that was normal in the realm of Modern Family.
By: Grant Delgado