Modern Family: What Sophomore Slump?

If you didn't enjoy last night's Modern Family, well, you weren't the only one. There was a scene where Cameron pretended to be Native American so Lily would have a better chance of getting into a snooty preschool, and one where Gloria gets annoyed with Jay's anti-Colombian jabs, but then makes fun of Peruvians herself. It was a misstep in what has otherwise been a hot streak, and it's bound to happen.

Modern Family is still on a roll, though. Even last night's unconventional episode fits into the conventions by which the show has become a hit. Here's what the show is doing well this second season go-round:

It messes with sitcom tropes
I'm not bothered by the way Modern Family includes traditional sitcom touches. The most obvious one is the way it ties episodes together at the end via voiceover—and yes, sometimes it's forced. I mean, it is a sitcom. But what I love about Modern Family is the way it manages to keep some surprises up its sleeve. Cameron busting out "My white man name is Tucker" was something I don't think any of us saw coming. I'm enjoying the way episodes twist and turn; if a joke falls flat, it's still admirable that the show's got cajones—especially given that it's so sitcom-y. If only Two And A Half Men took as many risks…

The characters, even the ancillary ones, are pretty fleshed out
I'm majorly in the Phil/Cameron camp, but I love that even with just one or two lines, someone like Luke or Manny can make me laugh not just for their outrageous sayings, but for how well I seemingly know them. Last night's episode gave us Luke at the breakfast table, playing his Nintendo DS while hands-free slurping up cereal right from the bowl. Every episode the show's ever done includes scenes like that, and after two seasons, I can get a kick out of it for such a Luke-specific reason.

Episodes are self-contained, with tinges of previous gags
The brilliance of Arrested Development and Seinfeld was that each episode referenced old ones. You could watch episodes as stand-alone entries into the pantheon, but there was some joy that came from knowing the entire run of the series. Modern Family is getting to that point; earlier episodes this season have made mention of the bum step on the Dunphy stairs and off-handed remarks Jay's made to his family. Now Hayley is going to get a car, hopefully in an episode that references what went down in this one. Modern Family has begun to think about the big picture, and can reap the sweet, sweet longevity rewards.

Did you guys like last night's episode? Are you enjoying Modern Family in general, why or why not?

Comments (18)
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Steve, Steve, Steve. This was a terrific episode about prejudice. The episode takes on people (all of us, really) who feel maligned by the prejudice of others yet, at that same time, harbor their own and will even try to turn this to their own advantage. That sounds to me to be a daunting comedic challenge. Yet, there I was, ROFL. That's remarkable talent at work.
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When mediocre comedies like Outsources are based on nothing BUT badly written stereotypes, there are really people complaining about stereotypes that ridicule the people using them even more than the actual target of the stereotype? Really?

Loved the episode. If anything seeing Cam go into disaster mode like that was even funnier than Fizbo!
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I liked this episode!
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i dont get it..i loved the new episode..it was funny!! definitely one of the best shows!!
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it s one of the best shows...and this season they didnt disappoint me yet...
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season 1 was way better than season 2.. i think theyre just warming up for now ...lets hope the last 10 or so episodes are like season 1 :D
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I just came across the show while surfing channels and I love it. All those small moments you mentioned like Luke in the most recent episode. This is a really funny show and this season is even funnier than the 1st season. I couldn't help LOL when Cameron did the Native American thing during the interview.
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Season 1 was a blast and this season is just getting warmed up. I agree that some of the humour in this episode missed me, but some hit me right in the laugh sack. Including Luke & Manny's short appearances.
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Modern Family is one of the best sitcoms on TV right now, and i think the 2nd season is as strong as the first, which is brilliant and rare. Not sure why you guys are hassling Steve, i thought this article was quite good. And seriously Spoontown, you must not have been with tv.com for long, coz they always have articles with spoilers the day after certain shows air i.e. Chuck, supernatural etc. Avoid those if you don't want to know!
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I actually think this season is way less funny than the last.
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It was funny. There are so many other shows that go way overboard but this was mild.
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I'm glad you think I'm such a hack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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tim and stephanie are the only good writers on tv.com. seems like they only hire hacks now. the peruvian jab was neutral but the native american scene was the best part of the episode.
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I agree with JustinJohnson9--this episode was hilarious! Especially Cameron and Gloria!
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Next time, don't read an article about a show you like the night after it airs. Sorry to say, but it's likely gonna mention things that have already happened.
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gloria was so funny , JAAAAAAAY
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Last night's episode was freaking hilarious. You need to take a bunch of chill pills. Cameron's "My name is Tucker" routine and Gloria had me rolling. That was no misstep. That was probably the funniest episode of the series. However, I'll give you props for the rest of your article.
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Wish I hadn't read this, I haven't seen last night's episode yet and you gave away massive chunks, as Tv.com always seems to before you have a chance to actually watch the episode concerned. Generally this season has been on a par with the last and I don't see that changing anytime soon the writers and actors involved are too good to make shoddy comedy. Leave the talk about a slump for 2 or 3 years when the sheer weight of episodes every season will guarantee a slump. Just look at The Office if you don't believe me......
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