‘Modern Family’ 2.15 Recap: “Don’t Worry, It Works Better in My Jammies”

‘Modern Family’ is usually really solid, but this week’s episode, ‘Princess Party’, feels pretty weak. The jokes are a little too easy, the plot is a little too cartoony, and some of the characters feel like parodies of themselves.

One of the things I really love about ‘Modern Family’ is that the characters tend to be treated with a certain amount of respect. They operate within their bounds and usually don’t cross the line between being believable characters and one-dimensional jokes.

In ‘Princess Party’, Cameron crosses the line. Being the consummate entertainer that he is, Cam is planning to bring out his Fizbo the Clown outfit for Lily’s birthday. He begs and pleads with Mitchell, only to be rejected.

That’s not the last we hear of it, though. Cameron is upset for the whole episode, going as far as tricking the princess that Mitchell hires into breaking character. He then berates her until Mitchell intervenes. It’s too much.

I have the same problem with the “You obviously don’t respect party themes” line that Mitchell delivers. I know Cam overreacts to everything, but the way he reacts to that line is way overboard. It makes him into a character rather than a person. The same goes for Mitchell using the “Cue gasp” line over and over again.

Claire’s story isn’t much better. Her mom DeDe is back in town, though I didn’t recognize her at first. I’m not sure if Shelley Long had work done or gained weight or what, but she looks completely unlike herself. Maybe it’s the glasses. Even pulling up the episode she guest starred in last season, she looks totally different now.

Shelley Long’s strange new round face isn’t the issue, though. Her storyline just seems so unlikely. DeDe invites one of Claire’s old boyfriends over and constantly harasses Claire. By the end of the night, DeDe and the ex-boyfriend, played by Matt Dillon, end up hooking up.

Alex playing the ‘Jaws’ theme on the cello? Cheap and easy.

The theme of Haley asking about Claire’s past is repeated, but to what end? Haley is trying to go out at the beginning of the episode, but the issue is never brought up again. A minute or two of the episode is spent on this and just thrown away.

At the end of the episode, DeDe calms down and talks to Jay seriously about her issue. It seems like there might be some character in there, but then she up and attacks Gloria. Again, this comes out of nowhere and is silly for the sake of being silly, rather than advancing the plot or the characters.

‘Princess Party’, as an episode, is flat. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, no one grows, and no one learns anything. If there’s a moral to the story, it’s not clear. Maybe something like: “Don’t invite your mom to a party.”

The episode was scripted by Elaine Ko, a new writer for the show. It’s her first episode. If she comes back for Season Three, hopefully there will be some significant improvements.


  1. I assume that Shelley Long’s appearance is likely an unfortunate combination of weight gain and a really unflattering haircut. There may have been some Botox in there as well.

    I thought that this episode was OK, but I understand most of your complaints. I thought Matt Dillon was pretty funny, especially when he revealed that he only ever dated Claire because he had a crush on her mom.

    I was expecting the quote you’d highlight in the post title to be “What happens in the limo stays in the limo.” 🙂

  2. Shelley Long as Claire’s mother was eerily similair to own mother’s immovable idea that I can’t handle anything going on in my own world. The fact that she would invite her old boyfriend to their get together? Not totally outlandish. I can see my own Mom doing this to me. Perhaps you all have awesome Mom’s and just can’t understand the insanity and to that I say, can we swap?

    I liked that Cam brought up the fact that girls shouldn’t be made to believe they are princesses because really, we aren’t and not even toddlers are excused of this simply because they are cute.

    Also, Gloria drunk on Xanax and repeatedly bopping Jay in the head with a balloon was HILARIOUS.

    Not one of their best episodes but still entertaining nonetheless.

  3. I’m glad to see others thought this was a poor episode…in fact, most of the episodes this second half of Season 2 seem to be pretty poorly written. It’s like the writers started basking in the show’s success and got really lazy with the scripts.

  4. EM

    I’m with Heather and Josh: I liked the episode, though I consider it a lesser effort. So far, I find “bad” episodes of Modern Family to be far more entertaining than most of what’s out there. I just hope the show doesn’t wallow in its complacency—I don’t want an onslaught of “bad” episodes that are better than most; I want a steady flow of incontrovertibly great episodes!

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