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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Modern Family verges a little too modern with "Aunt Mommy"

This week's episode of ABC's Modern Family finds Claire (Julie Bowen), Phil (Ty Burrell), Cam (Eric Stonestreet), and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) out celebrating the sale of a house that the guys help Phil close. As the alcohol begins flowing, talk turns to Cam and Mitchell's efforts to have a baby. They are jealous of friends who have used a surrogate, and disappointed that they can't have one child who has both of their genetic materials. Claire, who is feeling especially proud of her children, and feeling generous from the wine, and offers one of her own eggs to help them out. All four agree that it is a great idea. However, the next morning, hung over, everyone except Cam begins questioning that plan.

Titled "Aunt Mommy," this episode verges into strange, weird territory. While it is respectable for Claire to offer to donate an egg, it is bizarre that she would be the biological mother of her nephew or niece. Not to mention how odd it would be for Mitchell to raise a son who is partially his sister's child. Yes, this way genetic material related to Mitchell would mix with Cam's, but it's not like the kid will ever really have anything of Mitchell in him or her. Instead, the child would have a little of Mitchell's parents, which is far from ideal.

Some of this would not be an issue with some families, but this one can be a little high strung. As neurotic as the Pritchett family can be, it's clearly not a good idea. They would obsess over the implications, and surely there would be arguments over how the child is raised, and who has a say in discipline. While that might be provide some comedy, it would also strain relations within the family, so much so that it might be impossible for them to get along as well as they do now, which would kill the show. Modern Family hinges on the love between the relations.

Thus, "Aunt Mommy" is not a bad episode. It deals with an idea that looks great on paper, but just doesn't work so well in the real world, at least with these particular people.

That being said, "Aunt Mommy" is also really, really funny. Because of the drunk conversation, a deal is made. Three of the four people involved want to get out of the deal, but do not want to hurt feelings. Which leads to a comedy of errors, in which the entire clan is soon involved. Loud fights ensue, all the funnier in the unnecessary nature of the argument. Mitchell and Claire, hiding under the table and resolving the issue, will stand as one of the great moments of the show's run.

There is also some pride to be had for Claire and Phil in the responsible behavior of their kids. While they have trouble with Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould) from time to time, there really is affection between the siblings, and the will to take care of one another. Left to their own devices, they can handle things without the adults present. It's a wonderful realization for their parents, surely one many viewers with children can relate to.

The B plot in "Aunt Mommy" finds Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) finally collecting the last of one hundred lucky pennies, which they will use to buy a lottery ticket. As they count the change, the two reminisce over the great times they had finding each one, reliving wonderful memories. It's a wonderful mother / son bonding experience.

Although Jay (Ed O'Neill) sometimes gives Gloria crap for how much she babies Manny, even he sees that this is a special activity the two have together, that should be allowed and encouraged to continue. So he steals a few of the cents, giving them reason to go on with their quest. It seems as if Gloria realizes this, and it glad for it. Jay can be a real softy, and is a terrific husband and stepfather.

Who wouldn't want to be a part of this family? Watch Modern Family Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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