Despite the title, “See You Next Fall” is not the season finale of Modern Family. However, it does everything a good season finale should.
The episode brought the entire cast together, while still allowing every character to shine. While the adults on this show have always been funny, the kids have really grown up as this show has matured. Specifically, the interplay between Luke (Nolan Gould) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) has been fine-tuned to perfection.
While I can’t exactly say the same for the dynamic between the two girls, I did appreciate that the show has been bringing some more serious storylines into its half-hours.
It’s the day of the Dunphy middle child’s middle school graduation. Alex (Ariel Winter) prepares to deliver a painfully honest speech because “people like to be challeneged.” Haley (Sarah Hyland) argues that people don’t want to think, and a good speech is basically an 80’s power song without the music. Is that some metacommentary I see there, Modern Family?
The two eventually hash it out, with Haley revealing that she is personally offended by Alex’s speech decrying the shallow vapidness of “popular people.” Haley is popular, and she has problems. She might have to go to summer school! Sarah Hyland is a very pretty girl, but believable dramatic actress she is not. The less said about this story line the better, so suffice it to say that Alex comes around to Haley’s point of view and delivers an impromptu speech about how everyone in high school has insecurities.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family convenes at the Pritchett house. Jay (Ed O’Neill) tries to hide a recent Botox failure from the family, but is quickly found out. Gloria tells him again that she doesn’t need him to look young, and so on. Consider our hearts sufficiently warmed.
But wait, there’s more. Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) comfort each other about the passage of time and the advent of their middle child’s matriculation to high school. When the entire family is trapped behind a broken gate, Phil and Claire take a two-seater bicycle which promptly breaks down. When trying to hitch a ride to the school, Phil speaks in Spanish to a group of Latino-looking men. He continues doing so even after they reply to him in perfect English.
The episode ends with the entire family having made it to the graduation on time. Alex delivers her speech to a cheering audience. Everyone hugs.
With such an emotional episode, you’d be forgiven for assuming that there weren’t many jokes. However, the episode was funny–certainly funnier than last week’s. Luke and Manny had some great moments, and the Pritchett-Tucker storyline was mostly comic relief.
Cam (Eric Stonestreet) has a series of accidents with great physical humor on Stonestreet’s part. Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) laughs each time, earning Cam’s ire. Cam does end up laughing when Claire and Phil literally roll down a hill, so all is well at the end.
I loved this episode, without reservation. It was funny, pitch-perfect, and delivered some stirring emotional scenes, save the painful-to-watch Hyland fiasco. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume that age and experience will expand her range in next season. This episode felt so much like a season finale, that I’m curious as to why it wasn’t. Guess we’ll find out next week!