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‘Modern Family’ Review: “My Hero”

Modern Family My Hero
ABC

On tonight’s new episode of ‘Modern Family,’ Mitch’s ex-boyfriend pops in and the entire family takes a trip to the skating rink, where they all learn a thing or two about swallowing their pride.

Mitch and Cam run into Mitch’s ex-boyfriend Teddy, who invites them to a roller skating fundraiser event — but they aren’t the only ones invited. Turns out, Teddy is still chummy with Mitch’s whole family, which proves to be a clever way to get the entire cast in one location without using something like a holiday or birthday plot. While at the skating rink, everyone learns lessons in the vein of pride and humility… and humiliation.

“My Hero” is one of the better episodes of ‘Modern Family’ this season, and perhaps one of the most touching (I know I certainly teared up a bit), but it also gives more depth and progression to characters who typically run in place. Traditionally in sitcoms there isn’t much you can do with your characters other than send them to school, pair them up, marry them, get them pregnant, or have them move away. In today’s sitcom landscape, things are a bit more progressive — shows like ‘Parks and Recreation‘ prove you can have tons of laughs and a huge heart, and while ‘Modern Family’ isn’t quite in the same comedic ballpark as ‘Parks and Rec’ in terms of laugh-out-loud home runs, it’s always been good at sharing its big heart with us.

This week, Claire contemplates taking a job with her father, where she could someday run his business, but she shies away at the remembrance of the summer she worked for him as a teen and how hard he was on her. Cam has to deal with Mitch’s ex — a seemingly perfect guy for whom Mitch’s family still holds a torch, leaving Cam feeling like second fiddle to an entire symphony. Manny and Luke struggle to write essays about a hero they look up to in their family, with Luke stressing over choosing Claire instead of Phil, and Manny struggling to find one person in his family who meets his very high standards for hero material. And Hayley tries to teach Alex how to flirt with boys and how not to turn them off with her condescending attitude. The short end of the stick, but the one that provides some good laughs nonetheless, is Gloria, who is trying to learn how to skate with some help from Phil, but is terrified of being humiliated in front of everyone.

Each story tonight provides a lesson in humility and humiliation, and what it means to swallow your pride. For Mitch, that means understanding that while his ex may provide some flattery and is a real crowd-pleaser, he needs to suck it up for the sake of the man he’s chosen to be with. This plot provides a crucial, touching moment for the episode, when Jay tries to make Cam feel better by telling him how unhappy Mitch was with Teddy and how much happier he is now — this moment not only makes Cam feel better, but it shows Claire that her father isn’t the same dad he was when she was a teenager, and he can only make her feel like she did back then if she lets him. She is an adult now, after all.

Hayley and Alex have a great moment, too, where Hayley proves that she is actually quite smart and teaches Alex how to have more confidence — flirting is good practice for when you meet a boy who’s actually worth your time. And when Alex gives Hayley a little confidence boost, it inspires her older sister to finally look at some of those community college brochures that she’s been putting off.

But it’s Manny who provides that nice little voice over at the end about heroism — though all these people may be flawed and all of them lacking in their own ways, when they come together, there’s no denying how wonderful they can all be. Their bickering and misunderstandings inspire them to bring out the best in each other, and often you have to go through a little humiliation before you can really shine.

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