I don’t know if you’ve been keeping track, but Modern Family has its fifth season finale tonight. Fifth! That’s five seasons — how did I lose track of that? I knew it had been on for a while, but I guess it all just blended into one long season in my brain.
Probably because that’s one of the things the show is really good at — making it so you can jump in anywhere. No matter how long it’s been since you saw your last episode, you can tune in while you’re doing the dishes and chime right in as a one-person laugh track just in time for the next joke. Why? Because you saw something pretty similar the last time you watched, whenever that was, and pretty much nothing in the plot has changed since then.
Think about it! Over five years later, everyone is pretty much exactly where they started , with the addition of a baby or two. We’re seeing the second half of Mitchell and Cam’s wedding tonight, so that’s something, but pretty much everything else is just where we left it on day one, including the running gags.
I’m not super into that style myself, but before I throw shade at the formula, I’ll point out that it makes the show ideal for syndication. It’s almost better suited even than a show like Friends because it doesn’t have all those pesky plot points to deal with; just the same familiar characters making the same ten familiar jokes in every twenty-two minute episode.
Don’t believe me? Check it out.
1. Cam or Mitchell tells a lie.
Or sometimes it’s just keeping a secret, but either way, it will involve elaborate plots to one-up each other and prove the other one wrong, ending with each effusively promising the other that they’ve never lied before and they never will again. Until next week.
2. Haley does something stupid.
Remember that one time when they sent Haley to community college? That lasted, what, like five minutes? And then all of a sudden she was kicked out and back home again, and they never sent her back ever again amen. Because with Haley and her crippling ignorance gone, who would balance out Alex??
3. Manny is a little old man.
See also: Manny has an espresso. Manny has a top hat. Manny has a cane. Manny is independently wealthy. Manny writes poetry. Manny wears a monocle. Manny makes a romantic gesture. All in the same category.
4. Alex dies alone.
What’s funny about Alex is that she’s too smart for her own good, and growing up in a world that doesn’t value intelligence! HAHAHA.
5. Phil doesn’t deserve Claire.
…because he’s way too dopey. But then halfway through the episode, we find out that he does deserve her! And actually she doesn’t deserve him, because she’s so stressed and ruthless all the time! Spoiler alert: they deserve each other the perfect amount, but we won’t find that out until right at the end when Phil tears up.
6. What are the words coming out of Gloria’s mouth?
Honestly, I know we’ve lived with her as a member of our family for literal years at this point, but WHAT IS THIS FOREIGN BITCH SAYING. She makes English words sound so. so. so. funny — and she’s always so angry at Jay! What a crazy Latina!
7. LOOK AT ALL THIS PUBERTY.
It seems like the writers’ biggest fascination right now is with the fact that Luke and Manny are actively moving through their awkward stage while still on the show. Anything puberty-themed you can think of, it’s either already been done or being written into the script at this very moment.
8. Jay is old.
He will likely die soon, while we all laugh.
9. Phil wants to motorboat Gloria.
I don’t think Phil truly wants to cheat on Claire with Gloria or for Gloria to cheat on Jay with him, he’s just mesmerized by a crush. At least once an episode there’s a moment where he falls out of time and space because her breasts have traveled near his immediate vicinity.
10. Luke averts death.
Like killing off Kenny in South Park, it hasn’t been an episode of Modern Family until Luke has wandered too close to a blade, fallen off a high place, or been nearly crushed by something heavy. Boys will be boys!
11. Lily is a nightmare.
That’s a bonus one, just for me, because I doubt anyone will agree with my take on it, but honestly, she ruins everything.