I have said before that I usually prefer the Modern Family episodes where the three family units come together somehow or we get a mix-n-match of character pairings, but this episode “Unplugged” kept each family with separate plotlines and it was hysterical from start to finish.
At Jay’s house, Gloria is worked up over the neighbor’s dog’s incessant barking. Jay finds it amusing that she grew up sleeping through cockfights and revolutions in Columbia but now can’t stand the noise of a dog…but he doesn’t find it amusing when Gloria storms over there to confront the neighbor. We learn the dog actually belongs to the grumpy neighbor’s estranged wife and he finds it insulting that they are complaining when he doesn’t complain about their obnoxious parrot (a dig at Gloria’s loud voice, which goes over her head). The battle doesn’t end there—Gloria is not afraid of taking matters into her own Columbian hands and extinguishing the problem. When the dog suddenly disappears, Jay thinks it is because Gloria killed the dog and sets about looking for evidence. The scene when Gloria sneaks up on Jay and Manny in the eerily lit garage was priceless…and quite the frightening confrontation. Turns out Gloria really did bring the dog “to a better place” because he now lives on an actual farm where he can be free. Too bad that is still stealing though!
At the Dunphy household, Claire decides her family needs to unplug from all their gadgets so that they can start talking like a real family again (i.e. talking that does not involve texting to each other from across the table). It was nice to see Phil using his iPad, which was the focus of an entire episode last season. Phil actually turns this idea into a family challenge—whoever can stay unplugged the longest “wins.” This completely reminded me of a 21st century family twist on the infamous “Master of Your Domain” Seinfeld episode. Instead of self-pleasure, though, it was technology (which you could argue has become even more of a staple in today’s lifestyle!). What does the winner get for this Dunphy competition? Well, Alex declares that if she wins she wants a new computer, Hayley a car, and Luke…well, he wants chicken pot pie (oh Luke, you are so special). Claire doesn’t like this plan because, quite frankly, she has no faith Phil can hold out and win. Ultimately, Phil lasts a little longer than Claire, who breaks down to check their flight reservations online rather than deal with automated land-line phone systems any longer. Luke bows out early, much like Kramer on Seinfeld, to watch a video on YouTube. And Alex gives it a good try but freaks out when she gets a B instead of an A thanks to outdated printed encyclopedias—so back to the Internet she goes. It is down to Phil and Hayley when the unthinkable happens…Hayley outsmarts the family. She actually carved a cell-phone looking piece out of a bar of soap and pretended to be talking on it. When Phil thought he won and got back online, the Machiavellian Hayley (never thought I could describe her as that!) showed them the proof—she “Shawshanked” them with her trickery. She still won’t get that car though.
Last, but certainly not least, Mitchell and Cameron experience the stress of trying to get Lily into a preschool. Even though this type of plotline has been done on other shows, Modern Family still found ways to make this fresh and extremely funny. I loved Mitchell coming back from his run screaming “All the children are gone!” and realizing it was because the Lori women (aka the playground moms) faked them out with their preschool plans. And I loved both of them freaking out about their interviews…until they learn that a gay couple with a minority kid is a competitive advantage for the first time in their lives. Unfortunately, when they visit with very prestigious and snooty Billingsly (i.e. The Harvard of preschools) their edge gets squashed when a lesbian couple—one of whom is in a wheelchair—enter with an African-American baby. Things go downhill very rapidly in the interview process, to the point where Cam launches into a long story about being a Native American.
Here is just a sampling of some great lines as each family tries to master their respective domains:
- Mitchell laments their late start at getting Lily into preschool: “Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America”
- Claire tells her brother Mitchell to just buy Lily a blackberry since that’s all she is going to want anyway. Cam cries out “Lily doesn’t have the dexterity for that!!!!”
- “Who are you really mad at, Larry, your dog or your wife? (Manny being Manny, to their angry neighbor). Larry’s response: “Who is this kid?”
- Alex worries how she will be able to study without her computer: “How am I supposed to do my homework?” When Claire responds “Like I used to” Phil is ready with one of his jokes “With a chisel and piece of stone” because he can’t unplug his funny bone.
- “What do you think a public library is for?” (Claire); “I thought it was a bathroom for homeless people!” (Haley)
- Luke uses his unique imagination to build Dunphy Towers out of cans and bottles, then destroys it in his unique way.
- Alex: “I got a B”; Phil: “Good for you!”; Alex: “No, it would be good for YOU.” I heart Alex—she is so me stressing out about B’s.
- “This place is like Hogwarts” (Cameron after seeing Billingsly)
What was your favorite storyline? Did you think Haley had it in her to “Shawshank” her family? How could any preschool resist adorable Lily?