Modern Family: "The Kiss"
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Modern Family: "The Kiss"

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Modern Family

"The Kiss"

Season 2, Episode 2

Update: Commenters have made it clear that there was a kiss in this episode -- but in the background action. I didn't see it, and neither did my husband watching along with me.  The following expression of dismay, therefore, may be read as an unintentional Phil-esque example of missing the point.

For most of the existence of this show, we’ve been talking about the way Cam and Mitchell are portrayed as a gay couple.  Specifically, we (and others who take an interest) have been asking why they can’t kiss.  It seems the producers and writers have gone out of their way to avoid showing the two in moments of affection any more heated than a friendly hug.  Last week Mitchell kissed Cam on the top of the head, and in the terms established by Modern Family, that counts as a giant leap forward.

It seemed clear at the outset that this week’s episode existed solely to put the question to rest by finally having the two lock lips.  All the storylines turn out to be about kissing.  Claire worries about the flirty text messages she finds on Alex’s phone, enlists Haley to find out who this boy might be, and winds up comforting Alex after Haley tells her to get on with it and kiss him “or he’ll think you’re a lesbian.”  Phil, desperate for Jay’s approval, spends four hours rewiring his computer system to make the new printer work, and is disappointed when he gets merely “thanks,” which leads to Gloria uncovering the lack of affection Jay’s father showed him (one kiss, and it was because he mistook Jay for his sister).  And Cam is offended at how often Mitchell pulls away from his attempted kisses (“on New Year’s Eve, at the stroke of midnight, he high-fived me”).  Aha! the viewer might be forgiven for thinking.  This is the week.  They’re gonna plant one on each other, man to man.

And so it counts as a major disappointment that the show evades that moment yet again.  Even in an episode about how Mitchell and Cam don’t kiss in public -- !!! -- we, the public, do not see them share a kiss.  Are you kidding me?  No matter what other funny or touching stuff happens -- and otherwise, it’s a pretty solid episode -- this is bullshit.

Let’s back up then and talk about the sweet and funny that goes on around this travesty.  Egged on by Haley (who was first kissed at age 11 in Jackson Cater’s carpeted garage -- “it was a beautiful thing”), Alex goes over to the house of the boy she likes and quotes Notting Hill.  (Boy: “What’s happening?!”).  Then she asks him to kiss her just before the door opens to reveal the rest of his soccer team.  By the time Alex gets home, her embarrassing moment is common knowledge, and Claire, who just wanted to create a set of expectations for behavior based not on her own adolescence but on what she wished her adolescence had been (“better they fall short of the fake you than the real you”), is on the outs with both girls for snooping and scheming.  When Claire confesses to Alex how she knows from experience -- much more embarrassing experience -- that such infamy is survivable, the moment ends with the boy in the driveway wondering if he can have that kiss after all.  Sweet!

And while it’s overdone, with too many winks at the confessional camera, Gloria’s revenge on Jay for making fun of her belief that her dead grandmother’s presence is nearby (“Grandma, where’d you come from? We’re going to have to get you a little bell!”) does lead to the nicely underplayed moment of Jay answering the door with his shoes tied around his neck (“Beats slapping the chicken,” he explains philosophically).  Funny!  Also funny: the list of events on whose kiss-worthiness Mitchell and Cam hold conflicting opinions (buying a shirt, finding jalapeno-stuffed olives, making the light on Maple, everytime we see a VW, almost getting a turkey while bowling).  And in a show that prizes physical comedy, we would be remiss not to mention Cam’s rather epic tumble over the back of the sofa, ending with a bowl of chips overturned on his torso.

But come on, Modern Family.  This doesn’t even qualify as a tease.  You just wimped out at the moment of truth you yourself arranged with fanfares and parades.  Better to have chucked the idea for “The Kiss” altogether rather than to have avoided, once again, The Kiss.

Stray observations:

  • How do the containers and lids get separated?  According to Phil, “built-up resentment ... money issues ... met a younger lid.”
  • Phil was kinda on fire this episode, actually.  His squeal when Jay revealed that he wasn’t calling for Claire, followed by throwing the phone down and bellowing “Luke, Grandpa needs us!” was quite wonderful.
  • The refusal of the makers of Modern Family to understand that they need to give us a Mitchell-Cam kiss is only highlighted by their immediate apprehension of our boundless appetite for scenes of Gloria stirring.
  • Claire is appalled that Haley would suggest Alex is a lesbian if she doesn’t kiss her crush.  To which Haley replies “Don’t turn this on me -- look at her shoes!”
  • “For the better part of a half hour I screamed the death out of your meat.”