Modern Family recap: White Christmas
Gloria dreams of a white Christmas — until it turns into a nightmare
It’s holiday season for the Dunphy-Tucker-Pritchett clan, and everyone’s got a Christmas wish. So for this recap, I’m going to run through what each family member would like, and whether they received what they wanted. And on with the list!
GLORIA WOULD LIKE: A white Christmas, her first as an American
Look, all Gloria wants is a nice holiday weekend with her family in a cabin she rented. But when everyone arrives, the weather’s too hot; Jay’s about to carry out a mostly naughty, definitely-not-nice plan; and to top it all off, there’s an eccentric straggler named Fig (guest star Andrea Martin), who sticks around because Cam’s in an altruistic mood. And yet, Gloria tries to make things right by making eggnog, coaching Jay, and even getting Andy’s fiancée Beth to make it for a visit.
Does her wish come true? Yes — but it takes her way too much effort. By the end of the episode, she manages to help everyone calm down and quiets the overheated argument between Jay and Claire by giving a passionate speech about wanting Christmas to be better than what she experienced in Colombia. Oh, and the “white” part of “White Christmas”? The “snow” they spot outside is actually ash from a forest fire, Fig informs them, but hey, close enough, right?
JAY WOULD LIKE: Claire to become CEO when he retires…but only after she passes his super-fun test
Jay thinks he has it all planned out: To make sure Claire is serious about being the boss of the closet business and not just because she’s entitled to it, Jay decides to announce to the family that he’ll be making a “Chuck Feeney” his next CEO over Claire. The thing is, Chuck isn’t real — it’s all just to see if Claire will come fighting for her job. If she does, she gets it. If she doesn’t, well, she had an easy way out.
Does his wish come true? Yes — but at first it dramatically backfires. Claire overthinks the “Chuck Feeney” situation and instead insults Jay’s career, saying she’s happy she won’t have the chance to waste 20 years of her life becoming “the most boring person in the most boring industry.” Jay takes this to heart and fails to reconcile with his daughter until Gloria steps in. In the end, he realizes she’s absolutely serious about the job, considering how angry she got.
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MANNY AND LUKE WOULD LIKE: …something.
Yeah, this wasn’t made clear, but the pair — and I’m grouping them together for obvious reasons — spent the episode trying to freak Lily out, which doesn’t seem like a great wish, but then again, they’re teenage boys. They come quite close with a tale about “The Forgotten Boy” who’s trapped for eternity in a locked room, and they’re also dressed to evoke The Shining, thanks to some bland Christmas sweaters:
Does their wish come true? Nope. Lily’s not scared — and when she is scared, it’s because of something unrelated to Luke and Manny’s fictional tale. Plus, Luke gets trapped in the room himself when the Dunphys forget he’s still in the cabin on the last day.
MITCH AND CAM WOULD LIKE: Appreciation from everyone else for their flawless pipes when they sing Christmas carols
Also a paired wish, because their wishes are the same: After enduring a year of bad musical-act puns (“The Crapenters”‘ “Simon and God-awful”; “Nickelback”) because their caroling last year ended in disaster, Mitch and Cam are more than ready to be on-key and on point. They’ve chosen “Silent Night” to perform this year, and all they want is to have no distractions so they can put on the perfect show.
Does their wish come true? Nope, not even close. First, Lily gets in the way when she (brattily) asks to sing with them — Mitch and Cam make her change her mind by offering her an early present, which turns out to be the bike meant for Joe — and then they have to deal with an unappreciative audience in Claire and company. When they finally get a few bars out, Lily screams upstairs because she’s heard noises behind a locked door (we’ll get to that in a bit). By the end of the night, Alex and Fig are the ones who sing “Silent Night,” leaving Mitch and Cam in a less-than-festive mood..
LILY WOULD LIKE: To make Mitch and Cam feel bad? To make Manny and Luke feel bad? To steal Joe’s toy? What is it you want, Lily?! You used to be so sweet!
Yeah, she doesn’t talk about wishing for anything in particular, but the girl sure knows how to take and take and take.
NEXT: The Dunphys’ wish lists
PHIL WOULD LIKE: Someone, anyone to appreciate his jacket and to pass on his classic blazer to Andy
Phil begins the episode enthused about the trip. What could be better than skiing and snow angels and snowmen and chanting the word “snow” before they leave? If only there was any sign of snow (or Wi-Fi, for that matter) at the cabin. Phil tries to counter the stubborn weather by keeping his cool winter jacket on the whole time. And with Andy tagging along because Beth couldn’t make it, Phil tries to share some of his real estate wisdom with his protege and rewards Andy’s hard work with a yellow blazer Phil once wore.
Does his wish come true? Yes and no. Andy appreciates what Phil’s gleaned from the jacket — the motto “Life is like a mountain road, with a new adventure around every corner,” that is — but only after Phil has to give him a talking-to for not being worthy of the blazer because he had been disloyal to Beth. See, when Lily had been scared by noises behind a locked door, the adults in the family arrived to find that it wasn’t a ghost, but Andy and Haley going at it in one of the bedrooms (see the next entry). With that, Phil ends up having to take Andy aside after Beth arrives, telling him that he needs to break things off with Beth if he’s serious about Haley. And just to backtrack…
HALEY AND ANDY WOULD LIKE: Some alone time, without the family learning their secret
When Andy tags along with the family because Beth has to work, Haley finds it hard to avoid him in front of her family. At the same time, both of them are racked with guilt — Andy especially wants to stay in Phil’s good graces — so they tiptoe around each other when they first arrive.
Does their wish come true? Oh yes. They carve out some hot alone time with each other, but when Lily overhears them (ugh), this ends up happening:
Their secret gets spilled to the entire family, except Gloria, who had been welcoming Beth inside. But when Andy, after a pep talk from Phil, finds Beth and tries to come clean, he learns that she had been cheating on him, too. Once Beth leaves, Andy and Haley reunite and happily watch the (not) snow fall outside.
CLAIRE WOULD LIKE: The top job after Jay retires
Claire, after all those 60-hour work weeks and abandoned trips to Cabo, has been expecting to be named Jay’s heir for some time. When Jay throws a wrench in that plan by going along with his “Chuck Feeney” ruse, Claire grows upset and angry, wondering why Jay refused to let her handle the job. Hurt, she insults him and then continues bickering with him throughout the episode about values, unwilling to let the subject go.
Does her wish come true? Yes — but only after Gloria stepped in and revealed the truth of “Chuck Feeney.” By then, Jay had been too bruised to tell Claire his master plan had backfired, and yet, he did end up gifting Claire the job and a token of his appreciation, with her new title engraved inside.
ALEX WOULD LIKE: To not become Fig in the future
Of all the people in the house, Alex is the one Fig has the most in common with: Both are intensely smart — Fig’s actually an astrophysics professor at MIT — but when Alex realizes she’d rather not give off a negative vibe and be the outcast member of her family for the rest of her life, she tries to be nicer and more positive.
Does her wish come true? Yes — but only after she fails time and time again to make her relatives not suspicious of her compliments. When she tries to spread holiday cheer at first, everyone scoffs at her “sarcasm.” Eventually, to make the rest understand she’s sincere about her kindness, she and Fig perform “Silent Night” at the piano. The fantastic duet — no, really, it sounded great, thanks to the Tony Award-winning Martin getting to sing — irks Mitch and Cam, but even they can’t deny they were good.
JOE WOULD LIKE: Snow? Snow!
Joe wants snow. That’s all he wants. He’ll even look at a leaf, thinking it’s snow.
Does his wish come true? Almost! See Gloria’s entry for details on the, uhh, ashen snow, which brings us to…
Line of the Night: “Where, in her shirt?” — Manny, in what might be the first memorable line of his this season thanks to Rico Rodriguez’s delivery, when wondering what Andy meant with his excuse that he and Haley were just looking for dinner napkins.
Family MVP: It has to be Gloria. If it weren’t for Manny, I would give her the line of the night again simply for yelling at everyone to stop backstabbing and betraying and bickering with each other over nothing. “Andy, stop whining!” she says at one point. “Be grateful Haley likes you. She’s a stone-cold 10.” Plus, it’s Gloria who gets the family together again, so we can get this image:
…though Joe, the one who loves snow, doesn’t seem too invested. Maybe he did know it was ash.
Parents just don’t understand… and neither do kids or spouses in this hit ensemble comedy