Modern Family: Phil and the Kids to the Rescue

Wednesday's Hawaii-centric episode of Modern Family put the show's hard work on full display; it was the second-best episode of the season (after the beautiful chaos of "Fizbo"), and Phil and the kids stole the show.

Phil started the season as the obvious stand-out character (though the show has been good about distributing its zingers among the rest of the cast). Like many hapless dads who came before him (I'm thinking chiefly of Homer Simpson and, if you extrapolate the term "dad," Michael Scott), Phil's character works because he focuses on things so intensely and ignores everything else—including how ridiculous he sounds and looks. Never anything less than well-intentioned, Phil was determined to give Claire the honeymoon they never had, and as a result found himself ignoring Haley and convincing Claire to do the same. Later, he so genuinely wanted to free Jay from the hammock that he was willing to thrust himself full-force into the endeavor, falling into Jay and, eventually, giving up and nuzzling in close. That scene nicely encapsulated the essence of Phil: The word "foolish" doesn't exist in his vocabulary, he simply does what he believes is right, often in the fumbliest of ways. And when he does get derailed—like he did while staring at Gloria in Claire's sunglasses—it's a riot.

And for the first time in a long while, the kids were a highlight, not a distraction. It sounds cruel to say that Modern Family's young-uns aren't great actors, but it's true. It's not for lack of trying; the writers give them really great, often sophisticated jokes to work with. This may be because the kids aren't always quite clear on why the things they're saying are funny, but this week it wasn't a problem. All season long, the show has been building on Manny's fancy-lad-ness and Luke's complete lack of a filter—but only in small doses. Seeing Manny freak out over his linen suit and watching Luke gallivant around with a shower cap on his face while wielding a hair dryer brought all those previous jokes together beautifully. And once again, Lilly proved she's the most adorably straight-faced baby known to man. Seriously, could she be any more well behaved?

As always, Modern Family stuck the landing. Phil finally realized he couldn't recreate a honeymoon because he and Claire never had a real wedding, and gathered the family for a makeshift Hawaiian one. The kids are there, being sweet and silly as always. It's a wonder Modern Family isn't sappier, but with enough well-intentioned wit, it never will be.

What were your favorite moments from the episode?

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