Modern Family gets sentimental in season finale

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Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) stands in as the defense laywer for his stepmother, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), in Modern Family’s season four finale, “Goodnight Gracie.”

Nicole Boyd, Contributing Writers

The ABC sitcom, Modern Family has expertly explored the nature of today’s multifaceted, rapidly changing, and dysfunctional families.  The show’s season four finale “Goodnight Gracie” is no exception.

Utilizing the upfront mockumentary style, the finale displays an exceedingly honest sense of humor which allows us to get to know the characters in a more personal light.

What makes this episode truly special and certainly finale-worthy is the way in which it uses its typical humorous style to approach a seemingly humorless subject.  The episode revolves around the death of the mother of Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrel), as the plot beckons Claire (Julie Bowen), Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Jay (Dan O’Neill), and the whole gang to Florida to comfort a mourning Phil.

Perhaps the most outrageous portion of the episode is discovering Grandma Dunphy’s dying wish.  Expecting a heartfelt, emotional request, both Phil and the audience are caught-off guard by his mother’s proposal that Phil set his father up with a neighboring woman.  As this subplot is adeptly played out it creates instances not only of humor, but also of emotional depth.

We see hilarious demonstrations of the couple that fans have fallen in love with as Mitch and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) continue to surprise the audience.  Clearly foreshadowing the plot of the upcoming season, Mitch assists Gloria (Sofia Vergara) in a bench case.  With this, we not only see him rediscover his passions as a lawyer, but display a more dynamic persona, flawlessly imitating the various lawyer clichés.  Meanwhile, Cam’s vivacious personality is put into full throttle.  As the primadonna he has always been, he comfortably takes his place among the elderly, card-playing, romance novel-reading, ladies of Florida, all the while stirring up hilarious drama in the once peaceful nursing home.

What truly brings the finale to its satisfying completion is its heartfelt ending. After an episode of somewhat outrageous events, closure is provided by a touching performance on the part of Ariel Winter.  In her role as the precocious Alex Dunphy, she continuously boasts that she and her grandmother “had a special bond.”  However, she is crushed upon finding that her beloved grandma only left her a lighter (a gift paling in comparison to those of her siblings).  Yet, this initial reaction changes when she discovers that the seemingly lackluster gift actually holds a deeper meaning.  Telling the story of the lighter amidst a backdrop of stunning fireworks, Alex paints a clear picture of her grandmother’s loving, whimsical persona, giving the audience enough insight to feel the sheer emotion of the moment.  This realization perfectly sets the tone for the season’s conclusion, providing a skillful blend of comedy and affection.  Season four’s culmination leaves the audience with a sense of immense satisfaction as well as excitement in the wake of Modern Family’s next installment.