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Episode 6 - Halloween

6 March 2012

Claire's haunted house (Credit ABC)

With all the silly costumes, play-acting, fear and general silliness it should be easy for a sit com to get some laughs out of Halloween. Modern Family did just fine here and with an obvious theme for an episode it felt natural to write all of the characters into it.

I liked Mitchell's story (wearing a Spider-Man suit to work), it was as predictable as any embarrassment story could be but it was well delivered. The key to those stories being fun is to avoid making Mitchell's behaviour look stupid because if he brings the embarrassment on himself it isn't nearly as fun as if it happens organically. So it was good writing to have him duck swiftly into the bathroom to change and accidentally dip his suit in the toilet water. Similarly the car alarms going off were a plausible moment to expose him to the whole office.

The writers have been conscious of acknowledging Gloria's faults this season which is a brave direction to go. In the last episode they made fun of her squawking voice and now they address her heavy accent and mispronunciations. The story of falling out and making up with Jay was what you would expect. But the final scene where she snaps at everyone for mocking her was pretty good. Although it may have been an attempt at simple comedy I think it exposed the very real resentment she would naturally feel in that situation. I think Modern Family will be a richer show if they continue to acknowledge things like that.

The building worries in Phil's mind, Hayley's skimpy outfits and the mystery around Cameron's childhood trauma all built nicely throughout the episode. I probably would have skipped Gloria's story in favour of focussing more on why Claire loved Halloween so much. For such a straight laced character to have this one indulgence needed more attention and would have made her frustrations more significant. As it was the end of the story where everyone rallies round and cooperates felt like just another forced happy ending. Not that it was bad, but just that it made Claire's love of the scary seem like it was manufactured rather than an important part of her character.



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