With this week's episode of ABC's Modern Family Season 11, we are almost back on track with one of our favorite shows… almost. "Pool Party" pretty much followed 3-4 storylines, and while the outing was a vast improvement on earlier in the season – there's still one ongoing problem that continues to annoy me with each passing episode.
One of the things I have to say about Modern Family is that the show finds ways to make us all connect to the growth we have seen in the characters we love and care about. That said, there are two characters who are in a constant state of "WTF?!?" and have been for awhile: Alex (Ariel Winter) and Claire (Julie Bowen).
"Modern Family" season 11, episode 4 "Pool Party": Mitch and Cam help Lily overcome her insecurities about wearing a bathing suit to a pool party but discover their own. Meanwhile, now that Gloria's new internship is taking up so much of her time, Jay is feeling particularly neglected. Written by Abraham Higginbotham and Jon Pollack, and directed by Higginbotham.
I am not happy with how either of them are being represented this season: more stereotype and cliche, leaving us with that "same old, same old" feeling. Are you really going to tell me that a closet actually recording you while you get undressed and posting on a Russian site after a hack would ever be handled so frivolously? With what we see in the news every day, this entire storyline felt like it was written by people who don't quite get the gravity of having your personal media hacked and how that would destroy a company.
For a show that has tried hard to keep itself grounded in a sense of reality even when it's going broad with its comedy, I found it the epitome of "slapstick-y" in the worst way possible – and the Alex narrative has turned her into a background caricature. I took it personally on a number of levels, and it left me wondering if the series has anything at all in mind for these characters to land a good closure.
The rest of the storylines were fun and reflected on the best of the family members we've grown to know, with my favorite being The Pritchett-Tucker family. In attempt to instill some confidence in Lily (Aubrey Anderon-Emmons), who refuses to wear a bathing suit in front of other teens, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) take her to a pool party.
Things take a turn when they realize there were no kids, just younger gay men invited by their friend Longinus (Kevin Daniels) – which plays into the self-image issues Cam and Mitch hadn't confronted before. Lily calls them out when she realizes none of them want to take off their shirts because they are all self-conscious. I appreciated the way the topic of how we view ourselves in comparison to others was addressed: not as an "after school special" morality tale, but through a broader approach that showed how harshly we judge ourselves – no matter our age… no matter our gender. Bonus? I love how Lily has been developing as a character.
As for The Pritchett's: Jay (Ed O'Neill) is having a tough time now that Gloria (Sofia Vergara) has not really been around lately due to her internship with Phil (Ty Burrell). It was so endearing to see him talk about how neglected he had been feeling, yet not wanting to take this opportunity away from Gloria. In particular, I appreciated the scene towards the end of the episode when Phil and Jay see Gloria in action and sees how serious she is about real estate. While it was no surprise, Gloria earning the full-time job position from Phil was an important next step for all three characters.
All in all, a strong outing for Modern Family. I need the show's writers to give Claire and Alex the respect they deserve as characters – here's hoping they figure out what to do with them before the show ends.