“Modern Family” celebrated their 100th episode on Wednesday (Oct. 9) by going about business as usual. That might sound like a slight, but it’s not. Other series tend to go big when they reach that milestone, but it’s to the ABC hit’s credit that its standard fare, always leagues above any of its competition, was celebration enough.
“Farm Strong” continues the Season 5 arc of Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) engagement, though it never lets it overpower the comedy or become the main focus. We’re treated to a visit from Cam’s sister Pam (Dana Powell), who is older and single. What could have gone in an uncomfortable direction over the acceptance of Cam’s life (which, I’ll admit, I feared) instead devolved into a sibling rivalry over who was the weaker of the family, the one who wasn’t farm strong. True to his nature, Cam seemed to believe it was his sister who was the mess, needing protection from news of his engagement to spare her feelings. It’s only until Cam learns that Pam is engaged as well — to his first crush, to boot! — that he learns that his family sees him as the weakling. His jealousy doesn’t do much to disprove the notion.
While Cam and his sister are fighting it out, the rest of the extended family is dealing with their own drama, though it all feels decidedly less important. Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) avoid going to Luke’s (Nolan Gould) soccer games because he only rides the bench, only to find that he plays and plays well. Meanwhile, Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) are battling over who’s aging worse: Gloria needs glasses, while Jay needs a hearing aide.
Beyond Mitch and Cam’s story, the plot lines feel slight, sure, but they allow for some really great jokes, which is the the point of a comedy, right? The final act, with the entire family fighting amongst themselves at a dinner, feels familiar — it’s a trope that the writers are all too fond of returning to — but there’s a chemistry amongst this cast that has more than earned its Emmy Awards.
After all, you don’t reach 100 episodes if you’re not doing something right.
– Phil’s gutter cleaning invention felt a little too silly, but his guilt over killing the baby birds, and the continual phrases from others that related to birds, was an example of the sort of smart writing “Modern Family” does well. No joke goes forgotten in that writer’s room.
– Case in point: “Actually, it’s not a bunch of crows. It’s a murder.” – Manny (Rico Rodriguez)
“I know what I did!” – Phil
– Alex’s (Ariel Winter) plot surrounding her Words With Friends game with Jay was the very definition of throwaway, but it did give way to some great jokes.
– One such example: “I’ve never lost it to anyone” – Alex
“Keep playing word games with Grandpa and you never will.” – Haley
– And the tour de force: “One day you might be the smartest person in this family, but today is not that day. So tread lightly before you assiduously malign the veracity of my etymological prowess. Jay Pritchett, out.” – Jay, as he drops his phone like a mic
“You broke your phone, smartypants.” – Alex
“D*** it!” – Jay
– “You’re the boy who cried ‘divine.'” – Manny to Cam. Priceless
– “I won’t be able to hear her, she won’t be able to see me.” – Jay, over his and Gloria’s decision to ignore their aging issues.
“We’ll be together forever!” – Gloria