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Modern Family – A modern-day Norman Rockwell painting?

After last week’s vacation to Disneyland, it seemed everyone had a bone to pick this week in the Dunphy-Pritchett clan. Did they all come together and make up in time to complete Alex’s 'living art' project?

- Season 3, Episode 23 - "Tableau Vivant"

This week’s episode of Modern Familytitled “Tableau Vivant” showed the Dunphy-Pritchett clan at odds with one another for various reasons, just a week after the family vacation to Disneyland. From Cam and Claire arguing about how to discipline their children, to Phil working up the nerve to fire Mitchell, to Manny being upset at Luke to Jay and Gloria fighting like an old married couple, the feelings ran rampant as just about every character on the show explored unfamiliar emotions.

Gloria learned what it was like to feel jealous, although why exactly she would be jealous of the waitress at the diner seemed a little silly. I understand the why (she felt like Maxine knew more about her husband’s personal life than she did), but come on. Women would kill to be as beautiful as she is. Mitchell felt what it was like to be fired for the first time, and the feelings of insecurity and self-doubt that come along with it. Been there, done that, hope to never go through it again. But I’m so thankful I wasn’t stuck in the elevator after being let go!

Luke got a glimpse of what it’s like to be considered a hero, although he hadn’t really earned that designation, so it was hollow at best. Cam felt a bit threatened and defensive about his parenting skills when Claire questioned his theories and put him through that horrific garbage disposal scare … that was one of the meanest pranks I’ve ever seen. Phil had to go through his awkward, stressed feelings of being forced to deal with an unpleasant confrontation.

As a non-confrontational person myself, I totally felt his pain. I’m the kind of person who won’t send back a steak at a restaurant if it’s cooked improperly because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Actually, one time an entire platter of Mexican food was dumped in my hair and I didn’t cause a scene or anything. I went in the bathroom, had my mom help scrub it out, accepted the management’s awkward apology, finished my birthday dinner and then they didn’t even comp my meal!

But you know who didn’t feel the emotion I was expecting to come bubbling forth in this episode? That would be Claire, after she learned that Phil really meant to break up with her 20 years ago but somehow ended up more committed to her instead. I know Jay’s theory was that there are some things you say in a relationship and some things you don’t, but that seemed like a pretty important omitted something. I almost feel like their entire great relationship has been built upon a lie now and Claire acted very aloof about it all.

Did anyone else notice the irony of the family sitting down to reenact the Norman Rockwell painting Freedom from Want for Alex’s “tableau vivant” art project? At first, I was quick to think “wow, they are anything but a Rockwell painting.” But while they may not be an “ideal” family straight out of a 1940s painting, I think they do represent a growing trend in our society of blended families, mixed marriages and people learning to accept others’ differences and I, for one, think that’s a beautiful thing. Maybe they make up a more accurate “modern day” Rockwell.

Did anyone else catch Mitchell when he said he has a second child on the way? Do you think he and Cam will finally get their new adopted baby in next week’s season finale? I hope so! I’m shivering with antici…pation.

Memorable Quotes:
Phil: “I can’t do this … this isn’t the face of a cold-blooded hatchet man.”

Alex (describing her gym teacher): “She is to teaching what Dr. Seuss is to medicine.”

Luke: “Maybe that’s what I should be when I grow up … a professional medal-getter.”

Luke (about ten seconds before starting a fire in the chemistry lab): “We’re ten seconds away from creating Luketonium.”

Gloria: “Have you checked what’s under this? This (gesturing to her body) didn’t come from sandwiches.”

Maxine: “So, you’re married to Jay? Where’d you tie up your seeing eye dog?”

Cam: “You don’t know terror until you’ve had to stare down the eyes of a Missouri State Trooper and talk your way out of a P.U.I.”

Claire: “Every new generation thinks they have cracked the code on child-rearing. What’s the latest theory? ‘Never Say No.’ I say no every day in this house.”
Phil: “But at night, she’s a yes machine.”
Claire: “No.”

Cam: “Actually, we’re doing this new thing where we let her tell us when she wants to take a nap. It’s called being your own Nap Captain.”

Jay (to Gloria): “You’re just a tiny bit … loud. Not all the time. Only when you, you know, when you talk.”

Phil: “It’s living art. We stay perfectly still for 90 seconds basically doing nothing.”
Colleague #1: “Sounds like my first wife.”
Colleague #2: “I don’t know, she always moved for me.”
Phil: “At least you both agree it was only 90 seconds. Two nerds with one stone. I love working in an office.”

Phil (to the kid imitating The Son of Man by René Magritte) “Dude, that was surreal.”

Cam: “Like I always say, ‘It’s better to carry a tune than a grudge.’”

Cam: “From someone who has seen hogwash, I can assure you that it’s not.”


Photo Credit: ABC/Peter

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