I highly recommend everyone go read Choire Sicha’s outstanding op-ed in the New York Times this morning about product placement in America, which among other notes that the film version of The Road even managed to work a plug for VitaminWater into a movie about the Apocalypse. (The Coca-Cola scene he mentions, by the way, was actually in Cormac McCarthy’s novel, but who says movies can’t improve on books?)
Why do I mention this? Because I have no idea whether Costco paid for its storyline in last night’s Modern Family, but if not, it was one of the great freebies in recent memory.
Short version: Cameron drags Mitchell to Costco; Mitchell looks down his nose at it but is quickly smitten by its big-box charms. Now, as Mrs. Tuned In can tell you, I can get as swept away on a Costco binge as anyone. (Four words: fifteen pound strip loin.) But the halo the show hung on the bulk retailer was unsettling even to me—or rather, it would have been, if the plot hadn’t also served so well to define the relationship between the two men, while giving us background on their cultural differences and how they met.
And Cameron may have passed Phil as the show’s breakout character this week (“I’m like Costco. I’m big and I’m fancy and I dare you to not like me”). If the twin forces of Tivo and Hulu mean more product placements on my TV in the future, I hope they’re all as well done as this one. Meanwhile, the episode as a whole showed a lot of promise by demonstrating the ways different combinations of the extended family can play off each other. I’m ready to buy the family-sized container of this one.