After a slew of critical acclaim and awards, including three consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Comedy, "Modern Family" is at risk of a backlash from viewers wondering if the show warrants all the hype. The endearing Season 4 premiere erases any doubts. It picks up where Season 3 ended, with Gloria's finding out she's pregnant, and shows the gang's summer antics before advancing to the current time.
Botched adoption aftermath
Cam and Mitchell's adoption drama is a touchy subject. Essentially, they lost a much-anticipated baby while Gloria effortlessly received a bonus baby. It sounds more like soap opera fodder than comedic gold. True to its signature blend of humor and heart, "Modern Family" lets them mourn the loss and move on.
They try to donate their baby gifts (two giant plush animals) to charity, but the thrift store rejects them because of bedbug concerns. Cam and Mitchell strap the oversize toys to the top of the car in a variety of configurations, but they all seem obscene. Lily insists on getting a pet cat named Larry to replace her nonexistent baby brother. As it turns out, adopting a stray cat includes a rigorous application process complete with a home visit. The plush animal fiasco does not help their case.
Phil kidnaps Jay and takes him on a fishing trip for his 65th birthday. It is a disaster but leads to one of Jay's rare heart-tugging moments when he learns Gloria is pregnant. He loves the thought of a new beginning instead of resigning himself to endless games of golf or gardening like his fishing buddies.
Alex's prom night ended with her happily working on the cleanup crew and meeting one of her future math teachers. Haley annoyed Claire with her brazen behavior. She had a hangover and let Dylan sleep over.
Luke manipulates mature Manny into worrying that Jay would love the new baby more. Claire fiendishly relishes the thought of Gloria gaining pregnancy weight.
Most of the premiere covers Season 3 territory, but the last two minutes brilliantly advance to the current time. The running jokes pack unexpected laughs into a few brief scenes. Naturally, Gloria did not gain weight, other than a prominent baby bump. Dylan temporarily lived with the Dunphys. Phil rocked a beard as suggested by Jay's friend, Shorty. Cam and Mitchell regrouped with a trip to London and adopted a cat. The best part was the unwanted plush elephant and gorilla lurking in the corner of Jay and Gloria's house.
At the end of Season 3, the adoption storyline seemed like a depressing death blow. Since the show handled it so well, there is hope for Season 4, as long as "Modern Family" continues to present beloved characters instead of reducing them to annoying caricatures. In particular, pregnant Gloria seems most at risk of becoming too grating to watch.
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