What’s Worth Watching: Modern Family Meets Modern Technology

Modern Family
Eric McCandless/ABC
Modern Family

Modern Family, “Connection Lost,” Wednesday, Feb. 25, 9/8c, ABC

With innovative episodes like this inspired farce played out on multiple windows of a laptop computer screen, Modern Family makes a claim for what could be a record sixth consecutive Emmy win for Best Comedy. (Not tempting fate here, just saying the show hasn’t entirely run out of creative fuel the way its naysayers sometimes claim.) Directed by series co-creator Steven Levitan (who wrote the script with Megan Ganz), the frantically funny episode evolves from the simplest of set-ups: Claire (Julie Bowen), stuck at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport with what appears to be a fully charged MacBook, uses Face Time, Facebook and various messaging modes to check in on the family—most particularly daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland), with whom she had another blowout before leaving town. Unusual for self-absorbed Haley, she is electronically MIA, which becomes more alarming the more control-freak Claire snoops into her digital footprint.

As Claire’s search for Haley escalates, everyone’s pulled into the crisis, with a flurry of side jokes occurring in texts, a detour into online shopping, even a porn search (not what you’d think). Jay (Ed O’Neill), who can’t quite get the hang of all this technology, barks: “The minute they got rid of rotary phones, everything went to hell!” Maybe so, but watching this story play out is comedy heaven, a high point in the series’ distinguished history.