Phil's potential real estate client (Greg Kinnear) has a strange habit of leading with his lips

By Emily Exton
February 09, 2012 at 07:00 AM EST
Peter "Hopper" Stone/ABC
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Humor, man hugs, real estate. Next to his wife and kids, Phil Dunphy’s biggest passions were the driving forces behind last night’s episode (which means we’re in for a good night). Like we’ve witnessed before, attractive males can’t seem to keep their hands off Claire—have you seen her off-duty body?—but whether or not they’re romantically interested in her is up for debate. Cam and Gloria experience a rift in their glamorous friendship, while Mitchell tries to make it up to his dad on account of all the whining he does, um, always. To the recap!

The Dunphys whipped up all available proteins for their impending dinner guest Tad (Greg Kinnear), a prospective real estate client for Phil, and an all-around cool guy who’s found the time to zipline his way around the world thanks to a recent divorce. With Claire present for the meal—nothing says good business partner better than a charming and beautiful wife—Phil fumbled his way through bromantic flirtation (“Might cause fascination”). And then Tad kissed Claire on the lips. Was it the Malbec transported straight from the vineyards of Argentina? Was Claire the woman he had been looking for all along? Typically, this type of act would send husbands into a jealous rage, followed by some testosterone-fueled test to prove one’s manhood. But Phil was too busy savoring his handshake that almost became a hug. He’d let Luke live with Walt next door if it helped increase the ole college fund for Haley Alex. Oh, Dunphy. You’re lucky you’re cute.

Cam and Mitchell were having the house fumigated, in hope of getting out the stench of failed adoption and replacing it with a calmer scent that would keep Mitch from freaking out all the time. The slight inconvenience meant they’d be shacking up with Jay and Gloria, who were equally enthusiastic at the prospect of house guests. For Gloria, it was a chance to spend 72 straight hours with her BFF Cam, and for Jay, more time to use all of his questionable lawyer jokes on his son Mitchell, the lawyer. Even if Cam’s cinematic references are lost on his Colombian jewel, it only legitimizes the need for a movie marathon. In between Top Hat and Shall We Dance, Cam will paint her toenails while Gloria does his hair.

But too much of a good thing can backfire. A natural homemaker, Cam quickly incorporated Grandma Bitzy’s racist housekeeper Delilah’s recipes into the breakfast menu, and his organizational techniques within Gloria’s perfectly fine home. While she may look like Julia Child before plastic surgery, her insecurities and constant yearning for a human Barbie led her to make Lily over into a child-size divorcée on a regimented schedule of liquid lunches with the pool boy. Who’s to say Gloria’s kitchen needed brightening, and why didn’t anyone tell Cam his daughter’s hair was broken? Meanwhile, Mitchell squashed his dad’s opportunity to meet his favorite local celebrity, radio DJ Booker Bell, because he is a Serious Lawyer who has lunch meetings and no time for drinking OJ with his family. Luckily that legal thing also makes him a good talker with an uncanny ability to smooth things over. Radio hosts just want to be loved, too.

NEXT: Cam and Gloria put Fred and Ginger to shame

Manny attempted to make some sense out of Cam and Gloria’s sudden territorial squabble with an anecdote from his history class. As a child of divorce and a young man who can easily fall in love, he understands what it’s like to have people take your help as criticism. This is just like when his flavor of the week Danielle felt like he was judging her by correcting her notes. And knowing Manny, said corrections had footnotes. While they didn’t acknowledge his wisdom instantly, the seed for reconciliation had been planted. After a few stellar looks at the camera and beautiful passive aggressive body language (A+ all around), it was nothing a leopard-print apron and some choreographed kitchen work couldn’t fix. Their fantastically executed, sassy dinner routine rivaled anything by Fred and Ginger—or on the Food Network—bringing together their shared predilection for fun and the spotlight. Has Steve Levitan ever thought about a musical episode? (I’m serious.)

In Haley’s mind, familial duty and niceties are only obligatory if you capitalize the words “Big Sister” on a college application. Her newfound fondness for Little Sister Annie—her looped “A” just feels different—left Alex feeling neglected, and once again, a hell of a lot smarter than anyone in the room. Rather than take advantage of his sisters’ latest fight, Luke embraced the role of peacemaker, scolding his big sisters for bickering all the time, and becoming even worse siblings to him as a result. What he didn’t realize is that Alex and Haley’s biggest bond is built upon making him wear lipstick and tennis ball boobs—out of love. Gloria’s not the only one who enjoys a human doll; they just miss their younger sister. The perils of being a man in women’s household go far beyond clogged shower drains and tampon-filled medicine cabinets. My, Betty Luke, don’t you look lovely!

The big reveal, of course, was that Tad wasn’t making a pass at Claire—please take your self-esteem trolling elsewhere. He smooches everyone! As in old lady everyone. Even though he was one tongue away from becoming the patriarch to the kissing family, I have a hard time not finding Kinnear super attractive. To borrow a compliment in the style of Cam: Greg Kinnear is perfection. Whether he’s playing a handsome former president or helpless struggling artist, that smile, like his wine, has fared very well with age.

But it’s not another man’s physical appearance or actions towards his wife that threaten Phil, it’s his ability to make her laugh. Phil, bad pun-loving, blue henley-wearing Phil, has spent a lifetime crafting what he believes to be greatest sense of humor the world has ever known. And years ago Claire made a vow with hidden subtext that she would laugh at his crappy jokes and always pretend to be interested, till death to they part. She’s going to laugh at that? Finally! Her husband has defended her honor. While Phil’s frustration at her assumed laughter (“Who’s On First”-level) and Tad’s reliance on Costa Rica as a punchline was silly, it may have been funnier to see it explode in front of his potential client. Any man who dares to come between him and his wife will have to answer to a Joke-Off Death Jam, which I desperately hope is realized before the end of season three. That would really make Claire feel special enough to put some makeup on.

QUOTABLES

“He got divorced and his whole life opened up. Guy’s living the dream…his dream, not my dream. I’m living my dream. You’re my dream.” –Phil

Claire: Recently Haley got a little creative on one of her college applications and listed herself as a Big Sister.

Haley: Technically I am a big sister.

Phil: She capitalized the “b” and the “s.”

Claire: Which makes sense, ’cause it was.

“It’s a progressive culture; most of them travel by zipline.” –Phil

“I didn’t realize her hair was broken.” –Cam

“You think this got framed? She tossed it in the garbage, right after she wrote ‘Mrs. Haley Jonas Brothers’ on it like 30 times.” –Alex

“The other night when you put on makeup, I was like, ‘There she is!'” –Phil

“Tea, mug, kettle, you’re welcome.” –Cam

“I’m a detail guy, hard to get much past me. [Tad kisses Barack Obama, Betty White, and Lady Gaga right before his eyes.]” –Phil

Alex: Remember how we used to dress him up?

Haley: I miss her.

“ONLY I can take my wife to bed comma and make her laugh.” –Phil

Episode Recaps

Parents just don’t understand… and neither do kids or spouses in this hit ensemble comedy
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