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Modern Family - A Tale of Three Cities - Review

The Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan was back in full swing in the season 8 premiere of “Modern Family” on September 21. Appropriately titled “A Tale of Three Cities,” the episode picked up a while after we left off in the season 7 finale — the Pritchett-Delgado clan in Juarez, Mexico, Phil and family in New York City, and the Pritchett-Tuckers in the Midwest with Cam’s family as the summer comes to an end.

The episode definitely had some funny moments but also felt like a usual “Modern Family” episode. Nothing too different, nothing too surprising. I still enjoyed it, mostly because I missed that Gloria sass and Phil’s wide range of emotions.

Let’s quickly divulge into reviewing the episode, family-wise.

To Lie or not to Lie:

After a few days in the Big Apple, Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) are leaving for a road trip across the country for a closet conference while the kids — Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould) — are taking a flight back home. While driving to the airport, Claire and Phil realize that due to family time, they missed out on doing some stuff only they intended to and decide to stay back without telling their children. The kids, thanks to some convincing from Haley, decide to stay back and enjoy without telling their parents. They keep almost bumping into each other but eventually head back home right in time for Father’s Day. Meanwhile, both Phil and Luke feel terrible about the lies.

The Unholy Ties that Bind Us:

Jay (Ed O’Neill), Gloria (Sofia Vergara), Manny (Rico Rodriguez), and Joe (Jeremy Maguire) are in Mexico celebrating Gloria’s 19-year-old cousin’s third wedding (!). We once again see Sonia (excellently portrayed by “Brooklyn 99” star Stephanie Beatriz) and her rivalry with sister Gloria. The last time Sonia visited her in Los Angeles, she tried to poach her husband, so Gloria decides to leave immediately. Back home, she is surprised when Sonia visits on Father’s Day and kidnaps Manny (!!). In return, she wants her sisters’ successful hot sauce business, something Jay casually brought up when they were chatting in Mexico. Gloria is unfazed and knows her son will be returned, whereas Manny develops a creepy crush on his aunt (!!!).

Farewell, Grandma:

When we see Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), he has definitely not accustomed to Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) family in the Midwest over the summer. When his husband’s comatose grandma tugs on his hair hard and he yells “let it go,” granny takes it literally and dies. Cam’s mom walks in and is convinced that Mitch caused her death. Cam, put in a tough spot, takes his family’s side so Mitch returns home. Cam and Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) surprise him, however, because he didn't want them to be away from each other on Father’s Day. Even though Mitch apologizes, he knows that Cam’s family doesn’t approve of him. When they open the gifts his grandma left them — a watch for her grandson, an oriental fan for Lily, a bag of lipsticks for Mitch, his paranoia is all but confirmed.

The Big Father’s Day Reunion:

The whole family meets up for dinner at Jay and Gloria’s. Jay is excited about the occasion because he finally wants it to be the kind of great day he always hoped it would be. However, everyone is basically engrossed in their own issues. Phil and Luke reveal their secrets. Gloria and Sonia patch up when the latter realizes her sister has been jealous of her the whole time because their dad always liked Sonia better. Mitch puts on the lipstick and follows Cam around to prove a point. Oh, and Joe has become a kleptomaniac now.

Luckily, the show knows just how to weave all these their stories together. It all ends with a big hug when they realize just how upset Jay is because he thinks Gloria married him due to her daddy issues. Cue the dinner scene, wherein he has handpicked hot dogs for each family member to represent their personalities (Mitch and Cam have pink hot dogs!).

“Modern Family” is not what it was a few years ago, and who can blame them. Being on the air for eight years is excellent but the storylines are bound to get stale. This episode, while not boring per se, was definitely predictable. Luckily, the acting hasn’t dropped on the show for most of the actors. Vergara, especially when she finds out Manny has been kidnapped, acts nonchalant and bold. It’s her character's specialty. Burrell has mastered the art of combining comedy and emotion, and that is why Phil is a delight to watch. Bowen is a great match for him, humor-wise. Hyland, Anderson-Emmons, Stonestreet are all really fun to watch, too.

Let’s hope the show picks up the pace in their plots and gives us some fantastic, unique episodes like they did with “Connection Lost” in season 6. I want surprises, I want heartfelt emotion and genuine comedy. You can do it again, “Modern Family.”

The next season 8 episode, “A Stereotypical Day,” airs September 28. Let me know your thoughts on the premiere episode. Are you still bummed Haley and Andy called it quits? Can Alex please get more screen time? And how soon can we get Beatriz back, am I right?

About the Author - Saloni Gajjar
Saloni Gajjar is a writer for SpoilerTV. Her work can also be seen in Complex, Interview, GALO, and Brown Girl Magazine. She has been working in journalism for over five years now. Her passion lies in writing about pop culture, it's representation of our world, and our perception of it. For STV, she will write about "Homeland," "Switched at Birth," "Love," "Modern Family," "The Mindy Project," "Fuller House," "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," and "Man with a Plan."
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