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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Modern Family brings a new "Baby on Board"

ABC's Modern Family makes it clear from the beginning of this episode that baby news is on the way! Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) get a call from Mexico that the little boy they intend to adopt is about to be born. They rush off, with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) in tow to translate. The result is a twisty Mexican soap opera, and in the end, they don't get the baby.

Doing "Baby on Board" in the soapy style is funny. Because it ties into a television drama that both Cameron and Sofia are fans of, it's even better. Then, the fact that neither of them even mention the parallel to their show, kicks this story up another notch. It is one thing to play on a convention for a joke. To trust that your audience gets it without slamming it into their faces is far superior. And to make the slapstick short-lived, bringing out some real, deep, emotional moments for Cam and Mitch, who deal with the disappointing news in different ways, is absolutely pitch perfect! Because of the tone of the series, this kind of levity is needed to balance out the seriousness, and it's a delicious blend in this episode!

Will the couple give up on their dream of a second child? Mitch seems ready to. But it's difficult to make decisions in such a distraught state as he is in by the end of this episode. He may reconsider once they return home. For now, at least, their hopes have been dashed, like so many other prospective adoptive parents. It's a relatable, wonderfully executed story.

However, there is also a surprise at the end, hinted at throughout the episode, but not in such a way that it spoils the reveal. Gloria is pregnant! This is unexpected, given the age of her son, but she's still plenty young enough, and it's joyous news! This child will likely be the only one that she and Jay (Ed O'Neill) share, biologically speaking. It will also completely disrupt the family dynamic, tying Manny (Rico Rodriguez), Mitchell, and Claire (Julie Bowen) closer together as siblings!

Will Jay want a child with Gloria? He loves Manny, to be sure, and is a good father to him. But Manny is growing. He isn't so young anymore. And we see how great a grandfather Jay is in "Baby on Board" as he cares for Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), even getting up and dancing on stage with her when she is frightened. Ironically, with the wisdom of his age and life experiences, he is best prepared to be the perfect dad for this baby at a time where he is probably getting ready for retirement. He definitely tried with Mitch and Claire, but he has shown growth, even in just the last few years, into a more warm, paternal figure. He will come around this time, to be sure, but it will be awfully unexpected if he takes an instant shine to the event.

Claire and Phil (Ty Burrell) have their own child drama to deal with in "Baby on Board." And no, that isn't a reference to the *drama* Alex's (Ariel Winter) date probably sparkles with at their unseen prom, which gives Winter some great comedic moments. Claire and Phil are told of Haley's (Sarah Hyland) intention to move in with Dylan (Reid Ewing). Considering that Haley has spent all of one entire episode acting grown up and mature. They can certainly be forgiven for having a negative reaction. Yes, Haley is technically an adult and can make her own decisions, but this one has mistake written all over it when viewed from any angle.

It would have been interesting to see what Modern Family would have done with this story. The series isn't dark enough for Haley to get into anything too heavy. But she would have been frustrated and broke, probably ending up back at home before too long. Even though this is not the path the story pursues, credit must be given to the series for tackling an adult subject, as they have done regarding Haley's sex life, with a light touch, keeping true to the tone of the show, and staying away from the forced melodrama or movie of the week tropes.

But instead of disaster, the twist here is that Luke (Nola Gould), showing a sweet, little brother kind of care, has been hiding Haley's acceptance letter to college so that she will not move away and leave him. Once Dylan finds out, he does the right thing and insists that Haley go away to school. Haley and her parents are all excited, the latter because disaster has been avoided. Hopefully, Dylan will return again, because his actions in "Baby on Board" prove that, despite his faults, he is a worthy man for Haley to be with. Or he will be once he begins earning a liveable wage, anyway.

A great ending do a show that is still, three years in, consistently good almost every week! Modern Family will return to ABC next fall.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Click here to buy Modern Family DVDs and streaming episodes. Article first published as Modern Family brings a new "Baby on Board" on TheTVKing.com.

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