Last night's new episode of Modern Family delivered as much comedy and sweetness as last week's pilot, and while I do think that the show does have more room to live up to its full potential, I was genuinely touched by last night's episode, "The Bicycle Thief."
The episode opened by asking the question, "What is fatherhood all about?" Fatherhood is a subject which greatly interests me, and I love to be surprised by movies, music, and TV shows that portray active, loving fatherhood in an admirable light. This may be why I loved Away We Go so much. None of the show's fathers really had a good answer for the "interviewer," but spent the next 22 minutes trying to help their kids in some way.
Cameron & Mitchell, struggling with their first day at a toddler playtime with their new daughter Lily, were going back and forth on how much to play up or down their gayness. Mitchell is afraid that Cameron's flamboyant tendencies will incite judgment from the other parents at the play group, so Cameron feels very stifled when trying to play straight. His "straight guy dance" was so funny in its uncomfortable restraint. When another gay couple arrives, 1000% more flamboyant than Cameron, he decides to go all out. Funniest line of the night: "I could have killed with that crowd in there, but you had to clip my wings! Which you used to be the wind beneath..."
Phil Dunphy decides to buy his son a new bike because he's been riding his sister's handed-down one, and a pink bike covered in black electrical tape does not a boy's bike make. Even Grandpa Jay teases Luke for looking like Little Bo Peep. Phil and his wife Claire are apprehensive about giving Luke a bike because they're not sure he'll take care of it, so when Phil sees the bike left unlocked on the sidewalk, he decides to steal it to teach his son a lesson. Following some uninteresting hijinks involving a sexy new neighbor, the bike he's stolen goes missing. He decides to blame his son for letting his bike get stolen until he realizes that it wasn't stolen at all. "I've taught some random kid a very important lesson," Phil says once he realizes he stole a random kid's bike.
The most affecting storyline of the episode was easily the relationship between Jay and his stepson Manny. Not only did we get to see a little bit of playful banter between Jay and his new wife, confirming that they did marry each other for love, but we got to witness Jay's struggles as a man with adult children, learning how to relate to his preteen stepson. It was familiar, and sad, when Manny defended his deadbeat father as being better than his stepdad. But when Jay lied to protect Manny's feelings after his father bailed on visiting him, it was so touching to watch. "The fact of the matter is, 90% of being a father is just showing up."
I have definitely been enjoying this show, and I got my parents to watch it too (hard to get them to watch a new sitcom), and I am looking forward to next week's episode already.
Modern Family airs Wednesday nights at 9pm on ABC. You can watch the latest episodes online at abc.com.