‘Modern Family’ 1.22 Recap: Modern Family Goes to the Airport

Jay is slumped over counter at an airport bar. He looks at the drink the bartender has poured for him and says, “Could you make it a double? I’m travelling with my family.” That line alone sums up the entire episode.

Back in the late ’90s, when ‘Married with Children’ was cancelled, it seemed like that was it for Ed O’Neill’s career. The character of Al Bundy followed him around, and he didn’t get a lot of high caliber work. It’s hard to separate him from the character he played for ten years, just like it’s sometimes hard to watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and not see Peggy.

O’Neill has finally found another great role in ‘Modern Family.’ Jay is a lot like Al, but less abrasive and more loveable. He’s the heart of ‘Airport 2010,’ which ended up being a fantastic episode all around.

The story revolves around Jay, who got surprised by Gloria with a trip to Hawaii as a birthday present. Not a bad setup, except there’s one more surprise on the way: the family. Gloria and the rest of the clan talk about the big plans they have, including morning hikes, luaus and even a talent show put on by the family for Jay.

It’s one of those situations where you feel bad about feeling bad. Sure, Jay loves his family, but he was looking forward to a week alone in Hawaii with his wife, which is a decidedly different vacation than one where kids and grandkids tag along.

Everything crazy that happened in the episode – Manny being questioned by airport security, Claire getting drunk, Mitchell forgetting his keys – worked wonderfully because Jay’s story was so grounded.

The one thing I’ve got to call out though is the part reserved for Alex and Haley. At the airport, Haley obsesses over a cute boy. At the end it’s revealed that the boy is 14 – way too young for Haley apparently. The actress is 19, but I think Haley’s supposed to be 16. The joke’s fine, but the tip-off doesn’t really work.

After obsessing over the boy, Haley finally decides to go talk to him. She asks him what he’s sketching and he reveals that it’s a comic book, for school. She mentions that she had the same assignment back in eighth grade, and realizes that he’s not yet in high school.

But who, in eighth grade, had to draw a comic of a dinosaur fighting a robot? I sure didn’t. I mean, I drew plenty of them, but they weren’t for school. It almost seems like the age wasn’t the original joke, like maybe the boy was written as mentally handicapped and they changed it up last minute. I could be wrong, but watch it again.


  1. I agree that the plot point about drawing a comic book for school seemed weird. However, I didn’t have a problem with the age thing. When you’re 16, someone being 2 years younger seems like a grand unsurpassable chasm, especially when divided by the line between middle school and high school. This is actually a nice counterpoint to the age difference between Jay and Gloria, which is much wider but much less of a big deal.

    Also, Alex’s reaction to Haley’s predicament was priceless.

    So, the next episode is going to take place in Hawaii, huh? How convenient that Julie Bowen happened to be near the set of ‘Lost’ as it was shooting its finale. What an interesting coincidence. 🙂

  2. And why has it only now occurred to me that Claire and Phil named their daughters Alex and Haley… as in Alex Haley, author of Roots? How random!

    • Dick Ward

      Ooh, I didn’t pick up on that! I did notice the Cameron and Mitchell naming, which is likely a nod to John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

      I bet there are a few more hidden in there. I tried out some Google searches for Manny Gloria, but that only came up a LinkedIn profile for a sales exec. That’s probably not it 🙁

  3. I think you might be on to something with the metally challenged bit. I got that vibe too (that the character was depicted as challenged).

    But the age joke I completely got. Age differences are huge at that age. 16 year old girls would never consider dating a 14 year old boy. Girls do mature faster, and where a 16 year old boy might be attracted to a 14 year old girl in rare instances, it almost never happens in the reverse. Like Haley, they are interested in the senior boys (or college age ones).

    14 year old boys don’t have cars.

    It’s interesting to consider if the writers changed the gag after someone saw the rough-cut and realized the original bit was in horribly bad taste; or if they planned it all along to pull a joke on their audience (and it’s prejudices).

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