If you watch "Modern Family" regularly, at some point you've probably found yourself trying to describe what makes the show so funny to someone that's never seen it, and struggled to do so. Wednesday's episode, "Our Children, Ourselves," was a perfect example of that. At its core, it was an episode focused on three uncomfortably awkward encounters -- Mitchell and Cam with Mitch's high school girlfriend, Phil and Claire with the parents of the one kid in school that got better grades than Alex, and Jay and Gloria with a couple that Jay found boring -- but every single thing about the episode clicked.
The Mitchell-Cam-Tracy story was the one that was played up in the promos, thanks in part to guest star Mary Lynn Rajskub, but I thought both the Jay-Gloria and Phil-Claire stories were better. The scene where Alex subtly called Phil and Claire stupid, and it took them minutes to figure it out -- which itself contributed to their feelings of stupidity -- was ridiculously funny without being over-the-top obvious.
Now that I think about it, that's probably the best way to describe both this episode and the show as a whole. It's a kind of subtle humor that has the magical ability to make you laugh out loud. Even when they do something slapstick, like Jay drinking from the rigged dribble cup after Gloria had told the friends he was losing his mind, it doesn't play as cheap. And that ability to play that line is what makes "Modern Family" week-in and week-out one of the best comedies on television.
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