Apparent Parents on Modern Family S02 E17


Phil takes a spa day with his new gal pals


Phil: And if she says, “Phil, the TV’s driving me crazy,” I should just say, “I know, there is not enough quality programming for women.”

Woman: No. Turn off the damn TV.

Phil: Okay, now I’m confused again.

Loyal readers, you may have noticed that lately TeleRevision has taken a slight turn towards quality. Now that I’m back in the swing of things–“things” being cultural criticism about television–I’ve been trying to bring you more insightful posts about a variety of shows and topics. I love Hellcats, but that doesn’t mean I want to write about the ethics of cheerleading for four weeks straight. I will absolutely bring you one interesting television post every weekday, provided something good has aired the night before, but I’ll no longer be writing about every episode of every show simply because it’s become too tedious for me. In the next few weeks, I am especially looking forward to writing about some shows that will be returning from hiatus, like tiny gymnast drama Make It or Break It, as well as many new and presumably terrible reality shows. But to sate your hunger for quality television criticism, let’s have another discussion of Modern Family.

Last night’s episode of Modern Family initially seemed to realize my desire for greater interaction between the Dunphy siblings, but this expectation was short-lived. Haley and Alex argue over ownership of a pink sweater, and eventually Claire intervenes. In a faux interview, Claire explains that she wants the sisters to behave more like sisters–archetypal siblings who borrow each other’s clothes and gossip about boys. To my knowledge, such a relationship between Haley and Alex has only been seen once on Modern Family, in the memorable episode when Alex becomes unexpectedly and briefly popular, and thus seeks the advice of queen bee Haley.

This most recent episode of Modern Family again became a didactic evaluation of Claire, and only tangentially about her relationship with her children and with Phil. Any effort to examine the relationship between Haley and Alex culminates in a final high-pitched argument in which both girls leave angry and the conflict is unresolved (Then again, is it ever possible to fully resolve the innately existential crisis of having a sister in the first place? Little sister, got any thoughts?)

Naturally this heated screaming match leaves Claire questioning her own parental abilities, rather than the respective needs and desires of her duelling children, but luckily Phil has learned excellent coping skills at the day spa, so he knows exactly what to say to talk Claire down from the maternal ledge. Their relationship is mended, perhaps at the expense of their relationships with their children, and the truly self-absorbed modern family resumes activity as usual. Mentally deficient youngest child Luke is notably absent from this episode, but he’s probably just digging a hole in the backyard. I hear some kids are into that.

Will Claire ever stop bemoaning her poor mothering skills long enough to actually mother? And will Phil ever have an authentic conversation with either of his daughters? No, really, when will this happen? Stay tuned!


3 Responses to Apparent Parents on Modern Family S02 E17

  1. imagemoved says:

    I love Alex and Haley’s dynamic. Haley’s comedic qualities are really only brought out to me when she’s putting down her sister. And Alex is only ever funny when she’s pointing out her family’s lack of intelligence. Perfect combination!
    Good episode in my book.

    My thoughts on it here:

  2. Daphne says:

    A relationship in which sisters “borrow each other’s clothes and gossip about boys” is an unattainable idealization of the sibling connection. Siblings, by nature, compete in nearly everything: the attention of their parents, their accomplishments, their rights and privileges at any given age. This competition and constant comparison to another person of the exact same background, prevent the same sort of relationship to be formed between siblings as would form between two good and unrelated friends.

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