Season Five of Modern Family was off to a solid start but has taken a nosedive with the third episode, “Larry’s Wife.” It is so over the top, ridiculous, and most sadly of all, unfunny. Last week I said that I love when Modern Family is humorous and tender. This week, there aren’t any moments like that. I didn’t laugh once nor did I say “aww.” Don’t get me wrong: I have watched worst episodes of television; however, this show just won its fourth Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. The writing should be better; the plots funnier.
“Larry’s Wife” involves a plotline with Phil and his realty business. He finds divorced women and sells them houses by acting like their best friend and giving them a shoulder to cry on. He doesn’t want his potential buyers to feel like he’s cheating on them, so he starts telling lies about his whereabouts, his schedule, etc. Claire warns Phil that he’s not a juggler and his shenanigans will get him into trouble. When Phil realises that’s true, Claire comes to his rescue but then makes him admit that she’s right. I didn’t laugh with this plot but it wasn’t the worst bit.
That award goes to both Cam and Mitchell’s storyline. Cam is in charge of planning their wedding and Mitchell is giving him complete control. We already know that Mitchell is a perfectionist and that Cam is larger than life. To beat us over the head with this knowledge, “Larry’s Wife” shows Cam going through with an out- of-control funeral for Larry the Cat’s fictional dead wife-cat and Mitchell nursing his OCD tendencies at his office by scrubbing everything down and then eventually getting stuck in the air-duct. By the end of the episode, Mitchell realises he wants to take part in the wedding planning and Cam recognises the need to scale down and that he needs Mitchell’s rationality. Even Lily seems bored with this plot and seems to be listless throughout the episode.
There’s also an unfunny storyline with Jay and Manny being opposites and then resolving everything at the end of the episode, appreciating their differences, and finding out they are more similar than they appear. Usually I am okay with this trope but I just did not find their situation to be humorous or original. Give me something I haven’t seen a dozen times, Modern Family writers!
The only storylines that I didn’t find annoying or awful were those that involved Gloria and baby Joe, and the one with the Dunphy kids. Gloria is certain that Joe is cursed and brings in a priest to take a look at him. It is funny when they look over at Joe, playing with blocks and he picks out three sixes—the devil’s number. Meanwhile the Dunphy kids are playing poker with some of Luke’s friends. Why didn’t they show the poker game? Alex, Luke, and Haley just walk in front of the camera talking rather than have any real scenes. This was a missed opportunity for this episode.
Modern Family works so much better when the families mix and there was none of that in “Larry’s Wife.” I really hope that this episode is just a fluke and that the rest of the season is full of funny, heartfelt episodes that make me understand why I am still watching.
Nora Williamson – @LilNoNoKnows