Modern Family Season 4, Episode 19: “The Future Dunphys”
Written by Elaine Ko
Directed by Ryan Case
Airs on Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on ABC
Though all of the stories in this week’s Modern Family are very separate, “The Future Dunphys” still delivers a solid half hour of family TV comedy. The episode is a little weak at times but still features the fun gimmickry than we know and love as well as more scenes with the hilarious Lily.
The least entertaining plot of the episode is Manny and Jay’s adventures at a private school. Jay takes Manny to his interview and unresolved issues surface when Jay relives his history with snotty private schools. Working for the privileged led to Jay not being treated well and as the tour of the school continues, Jay realises that he in fact wanted to be one of them – something that all of us could have guessed. However, the mediocre plot does make for a touching moment between the two where Jay reveals he is not only proud of Manny now, but always will be.
The two other story lines are much stronger and ripe with hilarity, reminding us why we continue to watch the show. When Lily declares she is gay, her girl day with Gloria comes to a halt. After some discussion, Mitchell, Cam, and Gloria realise Lily is confused about heritage. Her friend is Italian because of her parents, so therefore, she thinks she is gay – baby logic is adorable. When Mitch and Cam tell her she is Vietnamese, they discover (much to Gloria’s disgust) they do not know anything about her heritage. “Bikes! So many bikes!” they say when trying to describe Vietnam. When Gloria voices her disappointment, the foursome end up at a Vietnamese restaurant. When exploring and mocking the culturally ignorant it’s easy to be completely offensive and tactless but once again Modern Family finds the right balance and provides us with one of the funniest scenes of the season. The show takes four of it’s strongest characters (my favourites) and has them recite a bunch of politically incorrect phrases alongside a number of visual cues. It’s very, very clever, well executed, and entertaining. The worst, and most hilarious, line uttered in this scene comes from Cam. The restaurant silences at exactly the moment he says, “I think we would all be better off if people would go back to where they came from”; it’s brilliant. Gloria blows up during the scene, stating that this is what is wrong with children in America: they’re quick to forget their heritage and culture. This of course stems from Manny forgetting his Spanish and the fact that baby Joe will probably never learn it. We learn from this scene that Lily doesn’t want to be the different one in her family and her parents reassure her by stating she made a scene in a restaurant so she is definitely like her two daddies.
The plot that gives the episode its title, however, is definitely the strongest of the three. It employs an old and silly sitcom device where a family, fast-forwarded fifteen years, mirrors the current Dunphy family. Claire and Phil are both nervous about Claire’s heart, which, combined with a look in to what the future could hold for their kids, leads them to switch parenting styles. At the beginning of the episode we see that Haley wants to quit her job, Alex is not staying out past her curfew, and Luke is continuing his mad scientist way of life. Claire doesn’t agree with her childrens’ choices whereas Phil cannot find any faults. At the hospital, Claire and Phil meet The Future Dunphys which includes Justine Bateman! These three adults’ personalities and choices mirror our Dunphys perfectly. We learn that BizarroHaley has been married four times and is unhappy in another marriage, BizarroAlex is a cat lady, and BizzarroLuke hasn’t grown up at all and is in trouble with the law. This scene, along with the restaurant one, shows the kind of greatly choreographed family comedy that Modern Family excels at.