Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review - Modern Family Season 2 Episode 5 Unplugged

Race is one of those hot button topics which is rarely broached on television. Journeys into predominantly ethnic neighborhoods in various procedurals often feel preachy and shows like Aliens in America and Outsourced, in particular, get too heavy-handed with the portrayal of "white people" as ignorant.

Two out of three plots of "Unplugged" tackle race and both fail miserably. The lesson is that when people are totally ignorant and/or being racist, we should be laughing. That's right, next time you see your local skinhead, laugh at him for being stupid.

Jay and Gloria's plot is completely perplexing. The entire episode, Jay acts as though Gloria--and her countrymen--are savages who regularly kill and mutilate animals. It goes beyond Jay's usual assumptions of Colombia and more of a vicious colonial attitude taken from 200 years ago. He apologizes in the end, but it's ridiculous to even entertain the thought of Jay thinking along those lines. They've been married for a while (possibly years?) and somehow Jay, for this episode, decides to be stupid and insensitive. And it's not like this is the first episode. We've seen them act relatively normally together for 20+ episodes. Why would Jay change his attitude towards her now? I mean, let's go back to the pilot, using Jay's "Unplugged" mindset, and see how he should react.

Cam and Mitchell's plot is certainly more understandable, but ends on equally insensitive terms. Affirmative action is alive and kicking (although I'd argue being Asian is actually a detriment in California), so I can see why Cam and Jay want to maximize Lily's chances of success when the opportunity presents itself. However, Cam turns into Jay and decides to do Native American-style talking during the preschool interview. Just like that, a potentially teachable moment becomes "let's make Cam into a bumbling fool."

While the other plots are unplugged from reality, the Dunphies go through a literal unplugging of electronic devices, and thankfully makes the episode more watchable. Eventually, Haley wins due to very clever trickery, pretending to use her cell phone, making Phil think he wins. Maybe she's not so dumb after all.

Score: 8.0/10
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