[This post contains plot details from the Modern Family season 6 premiere, which aired on Sept. 24]
The last we saw the Dunphy/Pritchett clan, they were celebrating at a beautiful, fourth-time’s-a-charm wedding for Cam and Mitchell. Over the summer break, the newlyweds went on a honeymoon. Cut to three months later, where we pick up: Cam is still very much in that lovey-dovey frame of mind. There are endless flowers, backrubs, at-work drop-ins, shared chairs, dancing, etc. Mitchell is tired of it, but his wise sister tells him to keep that thought to himself. But one can only handle so much love in the form of balloons and life-size cardboard cutouts, and when even Lily grows weary, Mitchell finally says something. In the end, we learn this is all overcompensation; Cam is worried their relationship will lose the romance.
The Dunphy clan is also having a love-filled summer. Miraculously, everything is going wonderfully. Haley and Luke get along like gangbusters; they all eat cookies and have fabulous hair; Phil is practicing perfect magic; and Claire has caught up on her classics reading list. Everything is perfect—except they forgot to mention Alex isn’t around. The moment she enters the house, her negative energy makes the shiny perfectness flee. They try to make her go back to the torture of building houses. But, wait—she’s actually necessary, because the family was blissfully unaware that they’ve been starting fires, making poisonous pies, and creating an internet peepshow by changing in front of a webcam.
Gloria spends the episode trying to get Jay out of his $5 Harry Caray glasses and back into presentable clothes. She has to dress like a slob to make her point, but of course the point was made. And now they both dress up for one another.
Now, let’s be honest: We’ve lost a bit of the romance with Modern Family. This wasn’t a bad premiere, but just like a lackluster relationship, the fire isn’t quite there. Even in the past during the so-so episodes (and seasons), we could always count on Phil. Tonight, all he did was eat plums—and instead, we got forced jokes and tired tropes from the rest of the gang. Somewhere between the butterfly flying through the Dunphy kitchen and a pigeon flying through the Dunphy kitchen, it felt like the flame of our former Modern Family love is barely burning.
And yet again, a show that can produce a line like “We’re a family of fire-starters, poison-eaters, and online prostitutes” (okay, Phil served a little more purpose than just the episode’s plum-eater) gives me hope that we can rekindle that flicker.