Emmy episode analysis: Elizabeth Banks brings both laughs and tears to ‘Modern Family’ role

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Elizabeth Banks earned her first Emmy nomination for playing the recurring role of Sal, the best gal pal of the gays on “Modern Family.” This is her third Best Comedy Guest Actress bid following two for playing Avery Jessup on “30 Rock”; she lost those races to Gwyneth Paltrow (“Glee”) in 2011 and Kathy Bates (“Two and a Half Men”) in 2012. She contends this year for the episode “Fight or Flight.”

Click here to see the updated list of all 2015 Emmy episode submissions

SYNOPSIS: Sal has had a baby and all her gay friends, including Pepper (Nathan Lane), decide to throw her a belated baby shower at Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson)’s place. When she arrives with her newborn son, Sammy, all the guys are shocked to see that she is acting very responsibly and not at all like the wild girl they once knew. She’s not drinking and makes all her own baby food. At the party’s conclusion, none of the guys can find Sal even though her son is still there. Her car is gone and she’s not answering her phone. The guys are further shocked when Mitchell finds a note in Sal’s diaper bag that says, “I’m sorry to leave this way. I’m not proud of it, but I just can’t do this anymore. Goodbye.”

Believing that she’s abandoned her son and run off, a debate ensues about who should adopt little Sammy. As the argument heats up, Sal walks in and asks if she gets a say in the matter. She reveals that after hearing one of the guys bring up the fact that the Blackhawks were in town, she went down to confront Sammy’s father who plays for the Blackhawks and tell him that he has a son, only to find out that the man is already married to another woman. When asked about the note in the bag, she reveals that she used to have notes in there to leave for guys the morning after she hooked up with them, in order to make a quick getaway. Sal breaks down admitting that she is trying to raise Sammy right but that it’s difficult not having a father in the picture. The guys then reassure Sal that they’ll always be there for her and will be glad to be a father figure to Sammy.

Can Banks finally score Emmy gold on her third try? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:


The scene at the end where Banks breaks down is a great showcase for her.

Modern Family” is no stranger to wins in the acting categories. The show has won an acting trophy every year at the Emmys, with the exception of 2013.


Banks is in the episode for less than five minutes and the comedy that comes from her storyline is mainly delivered by the other major guest star, Lane.

This year’s nominations suggest a huge case of fatigue towards the five-time Best Comedy Series champ and if that’s true, it is going to be hard for Banks to prevail.

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