Phil Dunphy — or rather "Fail" Dunphy — struggles with being the less-liked parent, while Mitch and Cam struggle with being the least-liked couple

By Shirley Li
March 03, 2016 at 03:56 AM EST
Ron Tom/ABC
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  • TV Show
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Everyone hid secrets this week. For Claire and Phil, it was all about juggling parenting duties while dealing with a full-time job — and then not admitting their stress. For Jay and Gloria, it was past sins they never rectified — pretty dire ones, actually, as Jay always fed Stella Colombian food (not exactly a dog’s diet) and Gloria liked to leave Joe asleep in the car (with the windows down and the lights on, but still). And then with Mitch and Cam, they weren’t the ones keeping a secret; instead, Lily was the culprit. And so it’s easy to spot tonight’s…

Lesson of the Week

Pay more attention. If only Phil, Claire, Manny, Luke, Gloria, Jay, Cam, and Mitch did! All Phil saw at first was his children liking Claire more than they liked him because she was efficient with all errands, from building brie sandwiches to buying birthday gifts. All Claire saw was a husband eager to please — and neither learned until the end that they would be supportive of each other no matter what happened. Claire had been using her overeager assistant Ben (guest star Joe Mande) to carry out all the tasks and finally caves after Claire realizes she really doesn’t want to “outsource” her job of being a mom. Phil overhears this and understands that he’s been trying too hard to match Claire when both of them are struggling.

Manny, Luke, Gloria, and Jay all try to keep each other from finding out the truth: Joe’s been fussy lately (with his toy plane that Jay would like to “Amelia Earhart” ASAP), so some peace and quiet is hard to come by — and to maintain. Gloria doesn’t want Jay to find out she lets Joe sleep alone in the car, and because Jay is trying to keep Gloria from seeing what he’s feeding Stella, the two become involved in high jinks as they try to dupe each other from discovering the truth — most of which involves napping — and fail to see Manny and Luke driving the car away with a sleeping Joe in tow. They drive off because the duo accidentally froze Gloria’s computer on a, well, lewd image and go on an adventure to try and fix it — only to realize that Alex is their one hope. 

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And finally, Cam and Mitch found it improbable they would have become “blacklisted” for gay weddings — even if the quality of the weddings are getting worse and worse, as Pepper (Nathan Lane, back for a quick, harried appearance) announced over and over again. Lily finally reveals that she’s not a fan of her fathers’ dancing and, because of it, had decided it’s better to RSVP “no” to every wedding rather than suffer the humiliation. Harh, Lily! Poor Cam and Mitch fail to make it to two — two! — weddings because of her meddling.

Most Unexpected Combo

Luke, Manny, and Alex. In the end, Alex goes ahead and fixes Gloria’s computer (without ever glancing at the screen!), but it’s always so strange to see these three together in any way. Remember when, this season, Luke comforted Alex? That’s probably the last time those two shared a significant scene.

Family MVP

Claire. Yes, she did make a habit of having her assistant go too far with errands she was supposed to handle and even ended up hurting his arm:

…but she did try to handle both jobs: that of being a boss and of being a mother to three. It’s impressive enough that she figured out a way to stay the better-liked parent. 

Kid MVP

Joe. He slept through everything! Besides, Luke and Manny were being silly (and even had to run away from Luke’s old babysitter to avoid letting people know what they have showing on Gloria’s computer), Lily was being intrusive, and Haley and Alex did very little other than sing Claire’s praises. If anything, Joe’s napping simply proved a great punchline. (In other words, I feel a kinship with lil’ Joe.)

Funniest Phil Line

“Fail Dunphy. Phil Dun-fail. Philip Hum-fail… never mind. I had it before.” —Phil, trying to figure out how best to make a (sad) pun of his name. (This is followed closely by Phil’s hardcore investigation into whether Claire could actually pull off all of her tasks in one day. Phil Dunphy: the suburban version of Serial‘s Sarah Koenig!)

Snarkiest Lily Moment

I mean, she’s been RSVP-ing for Mitch and Cam just because they dance badly. (To be honest, I think they’re goofy enough to pull off the dancing!) That’s pretty rude, Lily.

Best Out-of-Context Screencap

Did Everything Turn Out Okay?

Yes! Not only did the Dunphys resolve their parenting competition, they also managed to take care of everything the kids needed. Jay and Gloria found their own ways of keeping what they’d been doing quiet, and Luke and Manny were saved by Alex. Maybe the only losers here are Cam and Mitch: They ended up missing two weddings because of their daughter, but hey, at least they know dancing is one thing she doesn’t like about them. That raises the question, though: What else does Lily hate, if she hates their dancing? Cam and Mitch should be careful: If I were them, I wouldn’t be looking forward to Lily’s teen years.

Episode Recaps

Parents just don’t understand… and neither do kids or spouses in this hit ensemble comedy
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 10
Rating
  • TV-PG
Genre
Airs
  • Wednesdays at 9:00pm
Premiere
  • 09/23/09
Status
  • In Season
Network
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