Everyone tries to make the best of awkward situations — and finds that sometimes there's just no easy way out
Credit: ABC/Hopper Stone
Mitch and Cam, Modern Family
  • TV Show
  • ABC

The best thing to do every now and then is to take a deep breath, take a step back, and take it all in — something everyone eventually realized in this season finale (yup, it’s the finale already!). Over on the Dunphy side of things, Phil managed to have the difficult conversation with Luke about having girls sleep over only after trying to deny it and focus instead on practicing for family camp, Haley struggled to tell Andy she wants him to pursue his dream job but realized she has to let him go, and Alex wanted an epic homecoming but eventually cooled down.

For Mitch and Cam, the pair nearly reached a boiling point over having to separate for Cam’s gig in Missouri but figured out that they’re better together. And Jay even took some time off to go with Gloria to her cousin’s wedding, which took him away from trying (and failing) to be useful for Claire, who also contended with some blood-pressure-spiking issues when she had to fire one of her employees — but first she had to try to beat his high score on an arcade dance machine. Even Manny ran into trouble with his temper: He used the F-word for the first time and did it while frustrated with Jay’s inability to double-click. In other words, all everyone needed to do was learn the…

Lesson of the Week

Sometimes, defense isn’t the best offense.

Let’s start with Phil and Luke. Phil, busy trying to pretend his son wasn’t fooling around with girls and growing up quickly, spun every sign he got — a shoe left behind in the bushes by some anonymous Cinderella, a “red mark” on Luke’s neck, seeing someone in Luke’s bed in the middle of the night — into an excuse to train for family camp. Eventually, Alex scoffed at Phil’s naïveté​ (while also revealing her personal secret) and enlightened him to being open with Luke. “I knew I was supposed to be mad, but I didn’t know why,” Phil said, bewildered and harried, adding that he started making up reasons for being angry at Luke (“in the bed that I paid for?!”). “What I really wanted to shout was, ‘Just stop growing up!'” Aww. After Luke revealed he and his girlfriend just broke up, the pair sat together even longer — a poignant capper to both their stories this season. By the end, the Dunphy kids all gather to do family camp anyway, and the entire brood travels to New York for a sweet and nearly phone-less vacation. (Phil also helped Haley and Andy move forward in their relationship by separating them for a bit — though he probably still doesn’t realize how much he helped Haley get to a point where she could tell Andy that it’s okay for him to put his career first.)

Meanwhile, Mitch refused to acknowledge how hard it was to divvy up taking care of Lily between him and Cam (like a timeshare, as Mitch puts it), especially now that Cam’s leaving to be an assistant defensive coordinator for a team in Missouri for a while. But when Mitch’s credit card gets declined and Cam makes the mistake of being too distracted making meals for the family to pay close attention to how Lily’s perm was going, Mitch eventually sees that the three of them only operate when they’re together and that they shouldn’t force a situation when they have other means. And so, a newly permed Lily and Mitch find Cam at the airport and snag tickets to travel with him.

Finally, the Pritchetts slowly came to epiphanies as well, mostly through Jay. The family patriarch had been trying to feel useful for some time now — not being able to double-click just drove that knife deeper — and kept thinking he could keep up with his daughter at the office. But the less-than-tech-savvy Jay failed even at the most menial tasks (think: making 12 copies of a document on a copy machine) and eventually found that he worked best when he doled out advice and wasn’t just trying to be useful. He instilled in Claire the confidence to fire the high-score-hitting Neil and then returned home to be talked into a trip to a wedding for Gloria’s cousin — an experience surely a lot more pleasant than getting rid of a paper jam.

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Most Unexpected Combo

Jay and Joe

By “unexpected” I mean who knew Joe could recite so much of Casablanca? That joke landed well, having already been set up by Gloria’s fruitless attempt to figure out what happened to the tearjerkers she saved to get Jay vulnerable enough to say yes to her requests. Also, the idea that Jay would feel the same powerful emotions hearing the words spoken by his adorable son — who, as a toddler, can’t get all the consonants right — as he has watching the classic is hilarious and touching at the same time.

Family MVP


He inadvertently helped out Haley and Andy, aced parenting with Luke, and delivered the most sentimental line of the episode. Sure, he wound up losing the Dunphys another phone near Times Square, but the man gets a pat on the back for trying.

But also, just for the finale, I’m adding an Honorable Mention for Alex. This may seem like she’s been awarded out of pity, and though that’s a part of it, that lasagna shared by the Dunphys also looked delicious. So good job, Alex! You wound up bringing the family together, and that’s a higher honor than getting three days of festivities welcoming you home.



Seriously, memorizing Casablanca isn’t easy! Here’s looking at you, Joe!

Funniest Phil Line

All the aimless grievances he shouted at Luke were Peak Phil: “How could you, Luke?” “Under my roof?!” “In the bed that I paid for?!” “With your grandfather watching?!” Oh, Phil. He’s always trying.

Snarkiest Lily Moment

“Can we sue him? Let’s sue him.” —Lily, trying to get Mitch to punish Cam for ruining the perm she wanted so badly. But the best Lily moment this episode was really just her final scene at the airport, during which she wore a scarf around her hair, giving her the distinct “Missouri” look Cam had been trying to put together for himself to “blend in.”

Best Out-of-Context Screencap

Did Everything Turn Out Okay?

Even if they don’t, they’ll be okay in the end. Yes, I know that’s corny, but as Claire explained in her voiceover, everyone has those days of feeling alone, but going home to family helps hit reset. That said, sometimes going somewhere else also helps: By the time the end credits roll, everyone’s out of their houses and somewhere else, which means none of those urgent voicemails are getting answered. But those are simply issues to solve, well, some other time.

And that’s it for the seventh season of Modern Family! Did the final episode satisfy you? Did the season as a whole? Let me know on Twitter by tweeting @shirklesxp, or leave your thoughts below.

Episode Recaps

Mitch and Cam, Modern Family
Modern Family

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

  • TV Show
  • 10
  • Wednesdays at 09:00 PM
  • ABC
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