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‘Modern Family’ Review: “Farm Strong”

Modern Family Farm Strong
ABC

Sensitivity is the keyword for tonight’s all-new episode of ‘Modern Family.’ In “Farm Strong,” Cam’s sister Pam comes to visit, and Cam and Mitch are scared to share their good news, while Jay keeps needling Gloria about getting new glasses, and Phil and Claire trying to skip Luke’s soccer game causes more trouble than it’s worth.

While Cam and Mitch are scared to tell Pam the good news about their wedding for fear it might depress her, it turns out Pam has good news of her own: she’s engaged to Cam’s first crush from high school. And then we get to see a not-so-nice side of Cam, who doesn’t seem to think his sister isn’t good looking enough for the former boy of his dreams.

Meanwhile, Claire and Phil try to skip out on Luke’s soccer game, but when Claire finds time to make it anyway, the typically-benched Luke is playing the game of his life — the pair agree not to tell Phil she showed up so he doesn’t feel bad about missing out. Speaking of which, Phil is playing with a new robotic gutter-cleaner, and accidentally kills an entire nest of baby crows, providing some of the biggest laughs of the episode. Pairing Phil with the teen girls is always great — what’s better than a wacky dad mortifying his teen daughters? It’s funnier because it feels so genuine to real family dynamics, as does the later sidestepping when the whole family comes together and Claire feels guilty about Phil missing the soccer game.

Over at Jay and Gloria’s house, Gloria refuses to get the glasses she needs because she doesn’t want to admit to getting older, nor does she want to look silly. But Jay keeps getting onto her about it until it turns against him — with glasses, Gloria can see how much older Jay looks. The two reach a happy compromise: Gloria will only wear glasses when she absolutely has to, and she can continue thinking Jay is just as handsome as the day they met, while Jay (who has some trouble hearing), won’t get a hearing aid so he never has to hear the totality of his wife’s annoying voice. It’s not exactly a pretty idea, all rooted in a superficial concept of their marriage, but that’s kind of the humor of these two anyway.

‘Modern Family’ is always so fun when they get everyone together for a gathering, and this week’s get-together at Jay and Gloria’s house turns kind of ugly when everyone fesses up the truths they were too scared to tell Cam because he’s so sensitive and overly-excitable. It turns into a “pile on Cam”-fest (though I’m happy someone finally made a joke about Hayley’s prominent cleavage this season), but in the end, as always, there’s plenty of warmth and hugs to go around.

While this week’s episode focuses on sensitivity, the resulting lesson seems to be that it’s not a bad thing — we accept our faults, we recognize them in others, and we try to approach every situation with compassion and consideration. Cam’s family wasn’t keeping the truth from him because they felt his sensitivity was a bad thing, just like Claire didn’t keep the truth about the soccer game from Phil to spite him. When you love someone, you’re sensitive to their sensitivity, you know? Overall, this week’s installment is a marked improvement over last week’s so-so episode, thanks to a few big laughs and a whole lot more heart.

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