Unlike most of the other Modern Family episodes this season, a single story arc connected all the characters tonight. The Dunphy-Pritchett-Delgado-Tucker clan gathered for a garage sale to help Manny and Luke raise funds for their school’s charity fundraiser (or help them win a pizza party, as Luke would have it). Haley made a brief appearance via video chat to talk her mom out of selling her belongings, including an autographed John Mayer poster that Phil signed, solidifying her void on the show. I’m eager to see her return home for the holidays and excited for the upcoming introduction of guest star Jason Mantzoukas as her new boyfriend. Her sarcasm is greatly missed.
Jay was also reluctant to give up his possessions, but more concerned with the fact that strangers would be invading his lawn (and his personal space) than the act of parting with personal objects. Cam, on the other hand, was happy to donate six pairs of now ill-fitting jeans for the yard sale. As we learned in last week’s episode, the emotional eater has lost over 30 pounds. He was unable to bask in his glory during the Halloween party and tried to do so today. Mitch — convinced that Cam was going to gain the wight back — pleaded with him to keep the jeans for a future art project (he’s evidently still afraid of hurting Cam’s feelings with the truth). When that didn’t work, he took them back to the car and finally hid them in a bush. Cam eventually confronted him and admitted that he didn’t want to keep the jeans because their presence served as a constant remind of his previous failed long-term weight loss attempts.
In the meantime, Phil tried to prove his masculinity to Claire and Jay (again!), while Claire pretended to let Phil make his own decision regarding a pricey purchase (again!). Jay tried to talk Phil into buying his motorcycle so Phil decided to take it on a joy ride. After all, Claire did tell him he looked mighty cool on the mighty hog, especially compared to the bizarre bike he rode in on. Phil was initially scared senseless. He then started thinking about Fonzie from Happy Days and forgot his fears. He made his way to a serene canyon and was overjoyed until the bike fell on him, rendering him immobile. 127 Hours then met The Blair Witch Project when he started video taping his 27 minutes of entrapment and hacking away at his leg with a tiny Swiss Army knife. Fine, he actually used it to cut off one of the legs of his jeans, but I wouldn’t put it past him. The funniest scene of the night came in the final moments: Phil’s self-shot video of himself confessing, beat boxing, and rationing food during those dark minutes of solitude. “I got to ration my food,” he said while taking a huge bite out a massive sub. “I said no tomatoes!” he then yelled while shaking the sandwich in the air. As much as I love Eric Stonestreet’s Cam, it’s time for Ty Burrell to win his Emmy back.
Back at the yard sale, Claire tried to convince Cam and Mitch to talk to Alex about her new boyfriend (her prom date Michael), who she suspects is gay. I was glad to hear their characters persuade Claire that Michael was probably just metrosexual or less concerned with traditional standards of masculinity — until they immediately changed their opinions after simply hearing him introduce himself. Michael got angry when Alex finally confronted him (upon her family members’ insistence), but the two made up by the end of the episode.
The weakest plot line of the night concerned Gloria’s secret pastime as a puppeteer. Manny and Luke opened a mysterious briefcase from Colombia that Gloria forbade them from touching and discovered Uncle Grumpy, the puppet Gloria used in the talent portion of her pageant as an 18-year-old in order to stand apart from the competition of knife jugglers. She forgot her lines and was forever traumatized. Luke later manipulated her into performing, leading me to believe that she was better off freezing on stage than delivering that routine. I might have liked the puppet in Pandora’s Box more if he was less grumpy and more foul-mouthed (see Arrested Development‘s Franklin).
In addition to Phil, the kids on the show are always a delight. They naturally have more room to grow so their characters have developed more than the adults, but I often find myself wishing their parents would just grow up. While Luke has become more independent and shrewd, Manny has become more socially conscious and trusting of Jay, and Alex and Claire’s personalities have rubbed off on each other, the adults continue to act immaturely.
Here are tonight’s 10 best lines:
“Ewww. He wrote that my body is a wonderland.” –Haley
“Yeah, I didn’t catch that until after.” –Claire
“I’ve already done so much with that motif.” –Cam
“Sometimes you have to do things to prove that you’re still a man. Same reason I got that henna tattoo — Japanese symbol for courage.” –Phil
“I’ve had bigger hogs than this between my legs.” –Phil
“No, I won. Imagine this [points to her body] when I was 18.” –Gloria
“You don’t have to bring your big, gay guns to back you up. No offense. –Alex
“None taken.” –Mitch
“I kind of liked it.” –Cam
“I know how to push buttons and get what I want and what I want is to see a puppet show.” –Luke
“It’s a long story; check your inbox.” –Phil
“I’m not a rider, I’m a strider. I hope that’s sexy enough for you.” –Phil
“I got to ration my food. … I said no tomatoes!” –Phil