One of the best qualities of the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” is its willingness to overstep boundaries. It may be a family program, but as many of us know, family dynamics of today hardly reflect Cleaver life. Since hitting the airwaves in 2009, “Modern Family” has tackled several issues that could have easily been deemed inappropriate for cable a few years ago: Kids catching their parents in the act, parents engaging in roleplay sexcapades at hotels, children dropping the “F” bomb, gay dads, and parents trying to make sure their oldest daughter is not sleeping with her musician boyfriend.
I love “Modern Family” for its depiction of the contemporary American home, especially coming from a modern, blended family myself, but was a little chafed by the latest episode, which explores guns and teen sex. I welcome the latter subject, as pretty much all of my friends started doing the deed in high school, but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the inclusion of weapons.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains spoilers, but nothing that would ruin the sitcom experience.
At the beginning of the February 22 episode, Gloria asks to accompany Claire to yoga. Claire says she’d love for them to do a raincheck on that, and when Gloria surprises her at the yoga studio, Claire complains of a headache and returns home. We’re made to think Claire simply doesn’t want to spend time with stepmother Gloria, as these two have never exactly been buddy-buddy, but we learn towards the end that Claire has been keeping a big secret for a long time. While everyone believes she is doing the downward facing dog and child’s pose in yoga, Claire is actually at an indoor firing range blowing off some steam. She and Gloria take turns firing pistols, and Gloria promises not to tell the others about her private activity of choice.
Meanwhile, 13-year-old Manny tries to impress a classmate by driving past her house in a hot red car. All is well until he reaches a dead end and awkwardly moves the vehicle in reverse. Phil is also upset to hear that his 17-year-old daughter Haley is no longer a virgin, but even more dismayed that all the women in the house have known this fact for months. This happens in many families, and I feel “Modern Family” handled it well.
The gun plotline, however, left me a little lost. I’m all for the right to bear arms, but Claire chalks her hobby up to being a mother of three, and this simply didn’t sit well with me. It’s one thing to say family life can be stressful, but another to cite one’s children as the reason for needing a release at the gun range. “Modern Family” does a nice job showing that no family is perfect and that everyone has their bad days, but I didn’t find it particularly funny that Claire needs to shoot stuff to remain sane. I have dated an arms enthusiast before and appreciate that he taught me how to use handguns and rifles in the event of an emergency, but I could never understand how it’d be a source of pleasure or fun. The fact is that many people enjoy shooting for sport, they just don’t admit their kids influenced this area of interest.
“Modern Family” fans, tell me: Did you actually find humor in Claire’s dirty little secret, or did you think is was an unnecessary addition to the otherwise brilliant comedy show?