‘Modern Family’ 2.06 Recap: “A Bruja Is a Witch and a Gargole Is a Gargole!”

Apparently it was Eric Stonestreet’s idea to do a Halloween episode of ‘Modern Family’. Well, good for him. What could have been a gimmicky episode without much content ended up really solid.

When a show has to be written with a specific theme in mind, it can end up going very badly. Wedding episodes and baby episodes are bad, but holiday episodes can be the worst. With the exception of early seasons of ‘The Simpsons’, Halloween episodes tend toward the self-indulgent and pandering. Thankfully, ‘Modern Family’ has some standards.

Halloween is important to Claire – it’s her holiday. She loves scary movies, she loves dressing up, and she absolutely loves putting together a haunted house for the trick-or-treaters. She wants everything to go right, but Phil starts acting strange when he finds out that a neighbor (played by Matt Besser of ‘Upright Citizen’s Brigade’ fame) is getting a divorce.

Phil’s not the only one causing trouble for Claire. Alex has absolutely no desire to participate in the festivities, and hasn’t even started work on a costume. Meanwhile, Haley is trying on skimpy outfit after skimpy outfit, none of which meet with Claire’s approval.

After teasing Gloria a bit about her accent, Jay gets himself in hot water. Gloria doesn’t yell or get angry, but acts out by speaking in an American accent for the rest of the day. Some of the accent jokes are a little easy, but the package of baby Jesuses is a good gag. What’s really funny, and more than a little unsettling, is Gloria’s version of the American accent. It’s like she mixes the Minnesota, Midwest, and even the Kennedy accent into one strange amalgamation.

Gloria keeps it up all the way until the Halloween party where she’s dressed as an incredibly sexy witch, or brujeria (not to be confused with this Brujeria ), and creeps out the rest of the family as well. She also punches Mitchell straight in the face, which is as funny as it sounds.

Cameron plays a smaller part in the episode, constantly reminding Mitchell that Halloween for him “is a hard time.” Justin Kirk, better known as Andy on ‘Weeds’, gets a little bit of screen time, but not nearly enough. Mitchell gets plenty of screen time, however, as he attempts to disguise the fact that he’s wearing a costume at work. This results in humiliation and an incredibly funny scene where Mitchell, dressed as Spider-Man, must escape a men’s room by rapelling out the window.

‘Halloween’ is an all-around good episode that doesn’t rely too much on the gimmick of a Halloween party. Instead, the party at the end serves as a culmination for the individual plots that have been going on throughout the episode. Jay and Gloria make up, Cameron finally reveals his troubled Halloween past, and Claire gets the Halloween she wanted. It’s a nice wrap-up, as is Jay’s bomb story in the final sequence.

[Just a note to those looking forward to the NBC Thursday recap tomorrow. I’m going to be attending the live Rifftrax event tonight, but I’ll catch up over the weekend and have something up for you next week.]


  1. Patrick A Crone

    As funny as this sounds, I get nervous when a show is this good. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yet Modern Family has yet to disappoint.

  2. EM

    Reading the recap, I’m quite sorry I missed the episode—it sounds hilarious! The story thread about Gloria’s accent(s) additionally sounds true-to-life, at least in my experience. I used to know a fellow who came to the United States to attend college and first learned English by taking intensive English-as-a-second-language courses offered by the university where he matriculated. He learned our tongue pretty well, although there was no mistaking his accent for a native English speaker‘s. One day, while he was relating a story to me and his American-born girlfriend, he used a silly voice to mockingly quote some people he had recently encountered. His girlfriend laughed, imploring him to say more things using that voice, which she called his “American accent”. He immediately got offended and, in his more usual manner of speaking English, said, “F*** you! This IS my American accent!” 🙂

  3. Before last night, I had never watched an episode of this show.

    After last night, I never will again. That was the most painfully unfunny dreck I’ve seen in some time. It made the last season of The Office look intelligent and inspired. Ouch. Sorry fans, but this one will never beat out a week old rerun of Sportscenter, in my eyes.

    • EM

      Oh, you silly…this is the show right BEFORE the Courteney Cox vehicle…and right AFTER the one with the three heterosexual couples in different stages of their relationships.

  4. David

    Just a quick correction from Spain:

    I haven’t seen the episode, but “brujería” can only be translated as witchcraft. Spanish does not have a word for “incredibly sexy witch” or even just a plain sexy one. In fact, a bruja is often used to scare children, as they are depicted as old, ugly women flying on top of their brooms.

    Great blog, though.

  5. EM

    I am not a native speaker of Spanish, nor do I pretend to be a scholar of the language of Cervantes; but I wanted to add my two centavos regarding the meaning of the word “bruja”. My impression is that the word’s application is just as broad as that of the word “witch” in the sense of a female practitioner of magic (both languages extend the words’ meanings beyond that core in directions we need not dwell upon here). It’s not clear to me whether David actually meant this, but from his post I caught the implication that “bruja” refers exclusively to the old-crone type of witch; however, my general impression is that, although the crone depiction is a longstanding tradition in the depiction of “brujas” just as it is in the depiction of “witches”, the Spanish word can just as easily apply to the younger, sexier type. My evidence for this assertion, appropriately enough for a forum that often concerns itself with cinema, comes from the Mexican film “Atacan las brujas” (“The Witches Attack”), a vehicle for that luchador supreme Santo; in this movie, the silver-masked champion faces off against a coven of “brujas” of the young and sexy type (though, if I recall correctly, they do not hold a candle to Gloria in the “sexy” department).