Spoilers for last night’s Modern Family coming up after the jump:
Though I couldn’t resist using it for the title of this post, the storyline that gave “Moon Landing” its title was the only part of this episode that didn’t particularly work for me. We get that Jay is not entirely comfortable with having a gay son (and de facto son-in-law), but it’s one of those elements of the show that needs a rest unless there’s a novel twist to be put on it, which this simply wasn’t.
The rest of the episode, though, was an example of two elements that make the show so irresistable. The first, as in the “Fizbo” episode, is its ability to set up a pile of comic elements that come together, Rube Goldberg-like, in a chain reaction of comic disaster. Here, of course, it was Claire’s attempt to impress her old friend (Minnie Driver) by showing off her family, and finding a house smelling of Jägermeister, Hailey making out with her boyfriend on the stairs, Alex trying to kill a rat and Phil trapped in a port-a-john. Minnie Driver’s guest spot was successful, by the way, in that it was a Modern Family guest appearance that did not leave me constantly thinking: “Why look! That’s the actress Minnie Driver!”
The second was, simply: Manny. Rico Rodriguez simply kills me every time he’s on screen, and every part of his performance was perfect: his evident discomfort at Gloria’s story before he even tells the truth to Mitchell, his stressed-out attempt to confess while “tying his shoes” (“Don’t talk—listen”) and his laser glare at his stepbrother as he spills the beans. The story’s spotlighting of put-upon Mitchell as the family fixer, designated to tell the truth to Gloria, was simply the icing on the cupcake. As was hearing Sofia Vergara say, “cupcake.” I just want to keep repeating it. Cohp-cake. Cohp-cake.