Modern Family review – 4×01: ‘Bringing Up Baby’

Courtesy of ABC

Okay, everyone. Settle down! First episode of S4 of Modern Family roll call: Recap from the finale of S3? Check. General theme of renewal and fresh starts? Check. New storylines? Check. Main story line completely gutted via some weird new fast forward technique? Check? Christ. This may be the first episode that I did not like. Or, maybe that’s too strong. I was just very disappointed in it.

Let’s bitch it out…

I have to say that this feeling is like the inevitable yet still heart-crushing first “incident” in a relationship that gives you pause and makes you wonder why you stupidly thought that you had finally found a person who would never do anything to make you upset. Or who wouldn’t upset you until way later. Anyways…

A quick recap of this dubious premiere. As many of you will recall from the Season 3 finale, Gloria’s (Sofia Vergara) pregnant! What better surprise gift to give Jay (Ed O’Neill) for his birthday? Except that on the morning of his birthday Jay isn’t exactly giving off the “let’s have a kid” vibe. Plus he gets kidnapped by Phil (Ty Burrell) and his friends for a fishing trip, leaving Gloria to stew over her news for the whole day. At least Manny (Rico Rodriguez) reacts to the pregnancy announcement somewhat naturally, and by that I mean he reacts like I would have expected Jay to react. Wait, is that weird?

Other reactions are more revelatory. Claire (Julie Bowen) is not-so-subtly fake-sympathetic that Gloria will be gaining weight. This is one of the first times that Claire’s insecurity about Gloria is so obvious. Usually Claire’s interactions with Gloria leave the impression that it’s simply an awkward relationship given the context and that maybe Claire feels somewhat superior to Gloria. But all the mockery makes sense now: Claire is jealous. It will be interesting to see what effect a new sibling – 30 years younger to boot! – will have on Claire’s relationship with Jay and Gloria.

For their part, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) are, understandably, caught by surprise and a little conflicted about the news given their recent adoption disaster (Mitch: “Oh, come on!”). But they’ll get over it I’m sure, and we’ll have the whole pregnancy to watch their coming to terms with it. Oh, right. No, we won’t actually get to watch ANY of that.

Courtesy of ABC

Because this happens: the inevitable big end of episode outburst from Gloria finally arrives and Jay’s reaction is so touching that I actually got misty eyed. Me: What a beautiful start to the season. Then instead of ending the premiere on this happy note, we get an ultra-weird fast-forward to approximately six months later and Gloria’s significantly swelled uterus (bam!). The only worse way I can think of to ruin this pregnancy storyline would have been to do a montage. A *montage* people!

The fast-forward through most of Gloria’s pregnancy is a bizarre way to start off the season. There is a lot that happens in a pregnancy, even when it is early and the physical evidence is absent. There’s a great deal about early pregnancy that’s hilarious. And now the audience is going to get very little indication about how the rest of the family, and indeed Gloria herself, adjusted to the upcoming new addition. I just think that this event merits a bit more examination since adding a whole new person tends to change family dynamics just a little. And isn’t going through a pregnancy when you already have a 13 year old budding poet going to cause some conflicting emotions?

Maybe I was expecting too much for episode one?

Other Considerations:

  • Thanks to Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), Cam and Mitch contemplate adopting a kitten named Larry. Of course, the kitten adoption doesn’t go smoothly, bringing up wounds of the past year and a hilarious 80-pound gorilla/large elephant sex positioning incident on the top of their car.
  • The forcible-confinement themed fishing trip is mostly uneventful from a writing/comedy perspective, except for one beauty of a line from Shorty (Chazz Palminteri), spoken in response to Phil’s endless apologies for the day’s many mishaps: “As my uncle used to say, let’s not let a botched kidnapping ruin an afternoon.”
  • Finally, Dylan (Reid Ewing) is trying to move into the Dunphy house but Claire is far from oblivious to his pathetic attempts to gain her sympathy. My bet? He’ll move in eventually. And then in the episode where that happens they’ll fast forward to Haley (Sarah Hyland) announcing her own pregnancy to her parents. And then in that same episode they’ll fast forward to Haley giving birth. And then maybe there will be a super-fun montage, set to “You make my dreams come true” by Hall and Oates about Haley and Dylan raising their child right up to adulthood while they continue to live at the Dunphy house. You heard it here first, people!

Despite the tone of this piece, as I like to say, “Let’s not let a botched story arc ruin a season.” I am looking forward to seeing how the pregnancy plays out, and whether Cam and Mitch can move forward from their set back. I also look forward to further story-telling techniques testing my love of the show’s writing.

What about you, viewers: Did you think the fast-forward was strange? Did you like how the show dealt with Cam and Mitch’s disappointment about not getting “Larry” (both kitten and baby versions)? And did you find Claire’s comment about Gloria getting fat unbelievably rude? Hit the comments below

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on ABC

Editor’s Note: This review is by new contributor ‘pollysgotyournumber’, who will be all set up by next week so that she can receive your hate mail personally.

2 thoughts on “Modern Family review – 4×01: ‘Bringing Up Baby’

  1. Cam and Mitchell always make me laugh the hardest. Them trying to get those stuffed animals in a good position was too funny. With so many premieres on last night, I was really glad I have the Hopper because it automatically records all the primetime shows on the PrimeTime Anytime. This left room for my other recordings like Ghost Hunters, so when I go home after working my shift at DISH, I can watch all of them. I was a little shocked that Jay was so happy about the pregnancy, but I am sure he will have problems with it along the way.

  2. You say, “There’s a great deal about early pregnancy that’s hilarious,” and I say, “womp womp.” Thank you writers for sparing us another season long pregnancy arc. After one, its done. I thought the premiere was great, especially the line, “we can’t even get a cat,” after Gloria’s announcement. The writing continues to be great.