Modern Family, "The Kiss": it's in his...

Quick Take: Modern Family, "The Kiss"
"What are you waiting for, a box of chocolates?" - Jay to Mitch

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Review: Modern Family, "The Kiss"
(S0202) I must admit that I wasn't aware of any kind of "controversy" (which apparently came in the form of a fan-driven Facebook campaign) over the reason that gay couple Cam and Mitch on Modern Family had never kissed on screen up until this episode. I'd like to say it's because I'm enlightened and all of that, but I think it has entirely to do with the fact that the comedy is so strong and the characters so rich, that I simply had no cause to think about it. I guess that's to say that the couple looks and acts and appears to feel for one another the same way in which Jay and Gloria do and Claire and Phil do. Therefore I had never looked at their relationship through a prism of needing a checklist of Things Television Couples Need To Do On Camera.

In any event, "The Kiss" turned out to be another solidly funny, interesting, and even charmingly provocative edition of Modern Family wherein, yes, there you have it, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) finally smooch. But the interesting and even cool thing is that this episode was not in any way themed as The One Where The Gay Couple Kisses. Instead, it focused on family and love and intimacy, and built up to a dramatic peak in my view in focusing not on Cam/Mitch but on the fact that papa Jay, like many fathers, has trouble displaying affection to anyone (wife, daughter, sons, grandchildren), and particularly in public.

The resolution to the conflict – Jay gives Mitch a peck on the cheek – felt real and unforced, and was the kind of nice moment that in a real family has the potential for some kind of small but positive long term effect (which was played out wonderfully when we see Jay hesitating, and then kissing his fingers and patting Manny on the head as he's going to sleep).

But let's dispense with all of that heartwarmy family crap and get to the funny, which "The Kiss" certainly is. Cam had one of the best moments in a bit of physical comedy that sent him over the back of a couch, sending an enormous bowl of popcorn flying (in the attempt to lay a bit of affection on a dodging Mitch).

I can't seem to get enough of Phil's (Ty Burrell) awkwardness and oddball grin, so it's always great to see him in a mode where he feels that he's in a position of power. Therefore, I greatly enjoyed the storyline involving his increasingly frustrated attempts to fix Jay's printer, with each failed attempt draining away his hope of proving to his father that he's capable of doing something mechanical/manly. Jay (Ed O'Neil) gets the best line though when he plays off one of Phil's condescending singsong instructions about how computer hardware works and spits back, "I'm getting a beer-beer-beer before I hit you in the head-head-head."

And that bit played wonderfully into a subplot involving Manny and Luke's exploration of "ghostly" noises in the house, which turn out to be Phil struggling with who-knows-what in the attic. The payoff is terrific when not only do the kids get spooked when an image of Luke's deceased grandmother "mysteriously" prints out of the printer, but after they crumple up the page and run off, Phil ambles why and is distraught in believing that conquest in the printer project has not yet been achieved.

Claire, Alex, and Haley also combined for a fairly funny and entertaining story which almost culminates in Alex' first kiss, but Haley's suspicions about her foot ware and what that might portend for her sexual orientation may have to persist for a little while longer yet.

More thoughts on "The Kiss":

  • "They need to know who you wish you were, and try to live up to that person. They're gonna fall short, but better they fall short of the fake you than the real you." – Claire
  • "I thought you were a lesbian—you totally have the sandals for it." – Haley to Alex
  • "What are you waiting for, a box of chocolates?" – Jay to Mitch
  • "He blew his lid when she tried to contain him." – Phil, referencing cookware

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  • Alan Sepinwall: Last night appears to have been Respond to Viewer Complaints Night on the ABC sitcoms. "Cougar Town" did a subplot playing off the fact that we almost never see Andy and Ellie's baby, while "Modern Family" built most of its episode around the questions Levitan and Lloyd got about why we never saw Mitchell and Cam kiss in season one. 
  • Fancast: Television is long past the shock of same sex kissing – in 1992, ‘L.A. Law’s bisexual attorney C.J. Lamb tentatively locked lips with her colleague, two years later Roseanne and Mariel Hemingway smooched, and the so-called first lesbian kiss was on the 1997 series ‘Relativity,’ and a You Tube clip of ‘As The World Turn’s first gay kiss in 2007 has more than 2 million views – but there has been a push for ‘Modern Family’s gay couple to kiss. There were even complaints that the show’s other couples were able to display their love, but Mitchell and Cam were purposely toned down.
  • The Atlantic: We've had a season to get to know the characters; to understand Mitchell's uptight nature and his complicated relationship with his father, as well as Jay's own personal shortcomings. The groundwork laid out in the first season served this episode well, making it one of the most tender—and funny—ones to date.
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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