A Graduation and a Funeral: THE MIDDLE & MODERN FAMILY Season Finales

ABC wrapped up its 2012-2013 programming last night with the finales of The Middle and Modern Family, two comedies that are continuing to define comedic television with each progressive season.

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Over at the Heck household, Axl is gearing up for graduation, but is remaining distant from his nagging mother, Frankie (Patricia Heaton).  Meanwhile, Sue announces to her classmates that it will be her last week riding the bus because she plans to pass her driver’s test. Sixth times the charm, right? As the school year ends, Brick is reminded of his duty as class historian to create a picture slideshow of his grade’s elementary school memories – needless to say, he’s got nothing.

After a disastrous road test, Sue is awarded her license for braving all the elements, and she, once again, breaks out her accomplishment dance.

The episode ends with Axl walking across the stage, as Frankie, who has already declared she would not miss her son when he departs for college, turns into a sobbing mess. This, in turn, translated into my own mom breaking out in tears.

In the final scene of the season, Axl and Sue, both with their licenses, go off to see their friends, and Frankie clutches onto Brick, comically pleading for him to never leave.

The Hecks will be back for a fifth season in September, and recent Critics’ Choice nominations should give them a well-deserved boost in ratings. The show was nominated for Best Comedy over their glorified rival, Modern Family, and Eden Sher is finally getting the recognition she deserves with a nod for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy.

The Critics’ Choice Awards take place on June 10th and will be hosted by fan-favorite, Retta, who plays Donna on Parks and Recreation.

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On Modern Family’s season finale, the clan heads down to Florida for Phil’s mom’s funeral. Again, another somber scenario for ABC Comedy Wednesday.

While Mitchell clears up Gloria’s alleged prostitution charges in a Florida court, Cam is out making friends with the elderly women in the retirement community – stirring up gossip amongst the ladies.

Jay bumps into his “first,” a woman thirteen years his senior, and he is discouraged to find out that what he thought was a special night between the two of them was just another one-night stand for her.

The Dunphy kids each receive a gift from the deceased grandmother, and Alex contemplates the meaning of hers: a lighter. Soon, she discovers an accompanying note, which informs her that Paul Newman had left behind the lighter in her restaurant and that she had taken it without attempting to return it to him. The one customer who saw her steal it turned out to be her future husband and Alex’s grandfather. She reminds the straight-edged Alex to break the rules every now and again, so Alex uses the lighter to set off a beautiful fireworks display during the funeral, giving the perfect backdrop for the season’s close.

The Dunphy/Pritchett/Tucker gang will also be returning to ABC in the fall. Oddly, the Critics’ Choice decided to nominate Sarah Hyland, who plays the dim-witted, but good-intentioned oldest daughter Haley. Hyland’s nod is the only for nomination the show received, who could be a testament to the show’s waning dominance in the comedy world. Don’t get me wrong, the show’s consistency and originality is almost unparalleled to anything else on television, but new niches being created by premium cable shows like Girls and Veep, are changing the game completely.

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