Modern Family 2.19 “The Musical Man” Review

It has been a couple weeks since the hilarious “Boys’ Night,” so catch up with my review

As I was watching this week’s episode of Modern Family, as always, I was searching for some through line, some theme that I could focus my review around. I thought a “people need to face a disturbing reality sometimes” theme was emerging, but none of the stories seemed to resolve in that fashion. Cameron still had Mitchell’s support despite not apologizing for his behavior after his debacle of a school play. Claire didn’t learn that she doesn’t need the validation of others outside her family; instead, she relished the fact she received more calls than Haley. Jay came closest to the theme by realizing that he needs to be more involved in his brother’s, and family’s, life, but even this didn’t feel complete as Donny didn’t truly open up to Jay and they immediately reverted to their old ways.

The question is, though, does this matter? We’ve seen episodes of Modern Family and other sitcoms that don’t have unifying themes, and are just simply funny (for example, Modern Family’s usual counterpart Cougar Town which returns this Monday after Dancing With the Stars, and then two days later in it’s usual Wednesday time slot). The problem for me with “The Musical Man” is that I didn’t find it all that funny, or at least not Modern Family funny.

The Jay story was the most troublesome in this regard. Outside of the introduction of the butt picture on Jay’s phone at the top of the episode, I don’t think I really laughed at all. Now, not every second of a Comedy needs to be hysterical. Case in point: some of Community’s best moments have been their more serious ones. That said, I wasn’t moved in any way by this story, and that’s a bad thing.

Cameron’s attempt to directing the middle school play was pretty amusing, but I felt like they missed a huge opportunity. It certainly wasn’t surprising that a “Cameron directs a musical” story appeared on the series, as Cameron has made his love of musicals rather clear over the show’s two seasons. I was a bit disappointed, however, that this plot didn’t go all out and have Cameron turn the school play into an all out Broadway musical. Sure, one could argue that a middle school wouldn’t have the funds to create a huge musical, but this is TV. I would have loved to see Cameron have the students reenact some of his favorite musical scenes to hilarious effect.

The funniest of the stories was the Dunphys car wrap plot. Personally, I love jokes based on dramatic irony, so the whole time passengers were driving by and honking at Claire and Haley, and Phil’s phone conversation he thought was about two houses, had me laughing heartily. Ty Burrell also had some great physical comedy as he tried to keep his wife and daughter from seeing the ad on the van. Though I enjoyed this story, it still felt rather disjointed from the rest of the episode, and therefore, wasn’t enough to elevate the episode to one of the series’ best.

All in all, it wasn’t a great episode, but did provide a few good laughs. Normally, this is where I provide a few of my favorite lines of the episode, but 1) I didn’t think there were that many great lines, but 2) I’m not someplace spryer I can go back into my DVR and get the exact lines. So, what were some of your favorite lines? What did you think of the episode? Were you as disappointed as I was? Or do you fundamentally disagree with my opinion? Please leave your comments below. I’ll be back next week with another review. Until them, I’m off to love the F word.



  • Nancy

    I loved this episode!! I think it was much better than "Boys Night Out;" talk about missed opportunity. You're way too critical of the disjointed storylines. It's always easier to criticize than to praise and I think you're really reaching trying to make the disjointed-ness a bigger issue than it is.

  • Wendy

    Totally hilarious! I laughed through the entire episode. Watch again–maybe you'll like it more the second time…

  • Michael Salerno

    First, thank you both for leaving comments.  The conversation is always the best part of writing these reviews.

    It's not that I didn't laugh, because I did.  If you've read my reviews before, I love the character of Luke, so seeing him dangle above the stage was hysterical, as well as his comment during the episode tag about his eyes.  Great stuff.  I just felt that the episode needed some more cohesion.  True, nto every episode needs to have a through-line of some sort.  I have enjoyed a number of episodes where there was no central theme.  I just felt that this particular episode seemed a bit haphazard in the pairing of the three stories. 

    Moreover, I felt the comedy could have been richer and gone further.  With the exception of the Phil's reaction to finding out about the public's reaction to the van, nothing felt finished.  As I mentioned, even the "lesson" Claire learned didn't seem complete.  That was all.  I've said it in virtually every one of my "less than great" reviews, even a subpar episode of Modern Family is infinitely better than most of the dreck passing itself of as primetime comedy.  It was just that in this particular case, I didn't feel the episode was as good as MF usually is.

    Wendy, to your point.  I will absolutely watch it again.  I will be the first to admit that taking notes during the show can certainly take away from enjoying the episode.  Sometimes I miss a look or a line because I'm writing something down.  Unfortunately, as I also write up the Survivor recaps here, I don't have time to watch it a second time before I write up my review.  I will, however, definitely go back and watch it again.

    Thank you ladies for taking the time to read my reviews.  I hope you'll come back and keep the conversation going!

  • Rosie


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