05/19/2010 01:11 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gearing Up for the Finale: Modern Family Season Recap [UPDATE]


Last night's finale nicely brought the season to a close. With the attempt to take an all white family portrait, they attempt to tie up loose ends. Each character does something that embodies their personality. Claire obsesses over the portrait, Phil and Gloria kiss, Manny hits on Alex, Cam sings, Mitchell tears his house apart chasing a pigeon, Haley looks up from her phone long enough to tell her mother she's crazy, and Luke interviews Jay for a school project. Jay finally emerges as the patriarch of the family, the voice of reason, that throws mud on his family to show them that life isn't perfect, it's messy, but its better that way.

I have to say I thought the episode was slightly disappointing, giving Mitchell more airtime than I cared for. His Godfather-esque scene of ripping his house apart while Cam sings at the wedding sort of worked, but felt a little forced.

There were, obviously, still many highlights. Here are some of the best moments:

Phil on the snacks:

To the camera: Ordinarily I'm a rule follower, but when someone tells me I cant bring my own snacks into their stadium, that's when I get a little nuts. It's a free country, right? Lets just say it ruffles me, when some goobers, tell me I have to spend my half my payday on their hotdogs.

Phil to Gloria: I brought my own snacks. Not because I'm cheap, it's a matter of principle, plus I get a little rush from the danger, BE COOL BE COOL, just look straight ahead.

Jay: Where's my good underwear
Gloria: The question is why isn't all your underwear good, Jay? You make a nice living.
Jay: The new maid keeps mixing up my underwear with Manny's. I put on the first thing I grabbed it was like a crotch tourniquet.You gotta talk to her.
Gloria: Why me?
Jay: HOLA! You speak the same language.

And line of the episode:
Manny: Hey Mom! I think my diet's working! My underwear won't stay up!

Kiss Cam:
Phil's SO awkward because of his crush on Gloria and she rolls her eyes at him, clearly thinking "Loser."

Manny hits on Alex--he just can't help himself.

Manny: Wouldn't it be embarrassing if the camera was on us and then crowd started...
Alex: We're related
Manny: Not by blood
Alex: Touch me, and there will be blood

Cam: I've been hired to sing at a wedding this weekend. I was plucked from obscurity after a particularly stirring karaoke performance, so I guess you could say I'm a professional singer now.
Mitchell: Well they're paying you in flowers, so...
Cam: Well I would've blown the money on flowers anyway, theyre saving me a step. Plus all the great divas are rewarded in flowers.

On Luke walking to turn off the sprinklers "hurt locker" style, Cam: "Hurt locker, more like squirt locker. Really? That wasn't funny? I actually pity you guys."

A few things:

I'm glad this family portrait finally acknowledges that they have freaky professional pictures on all of their walls. Apparently they do this...

What's with the pigeons? Gloria told us in "Fears" that Jay is afraid of pigeons, is this hereditary?

Cam is not as good singing as I would've expected. Maybe now we know why they kicked him out of the Greensleevers...

The broken step has clearly been a theme throughout the season that's really driven home in this episode. Claire says that its "going to ruin our whole family portrait," and becomes a symbol for imperfections that tells us Claire's perfect picture can't exist. Then there's a broken step in Jay's house. Nice consistency.

Manny's face in the final picture. HA!

Jay really brings the finale together as he yells at his kids:

Jay: This is ridiculous, youre both uptight, about everything. You didn't want to go to a wedding with him because you didn't want to make small talk? That's how I met Gloria, do you remember the first thing I said to you?
Gloria: Yes, I like chocolate, I like fruit but not together (AH! We finally found out)
Jay: You couldn't come up with that ivy league? And you, you would be a lot happier if you weren't obsessed with everything being perfect. Look at us all here in white, what are we? A cricket team? News flash! Life is not perfect, Claire, now calm the hell down!

And then he tells us the moral of the story:

Jay: Back in '68 I was sweeping up hair in that barber shop, I had this mental picture of a family that, if I was lucky enough, one day I would end with, perfect wife, perfect kids. Guess what, I didn't get any of that, wound up with this sorry bunch, and I'm thankful for that every day, well most days.

The muddy portrait perfectly represented their family, certainly not pristine but messy, funny, happy and together, which, overall, was an appropriate end to the season.


Given the lack of respectable Modern Family recaps this season (hello--Vulture, where are you??), I've decided to gear up for the finale tonight with a full season recap to honor the best 30 minutes of my week, the show that finally has filled the half-hour-sitcom void left in my life since Seinfeld and Friends went off the air.

We've got the three families, created by the original Pritchett trio, Jay, Claire and Mitchell. While the three of them are relatively normal and unexciting, they somehow managed to attract a more rambunctious cast of characters.

From Claire, we get the most "traditional" family of the set, on paper--same age, heterosexual, married with three children--but not in practice. Phil Dunphy, her husband, is the personality, the kooky soul of their family. He's the super dorky dad, ADHD, early adopter, who acts slightly homosexual but more immature and childlike. "I'm the cool dad, that's my thang, I'm hip, I surf the web, I text, LOL, laugh out loud, OMG, oh my god, WTF, why the face, you know, I know all the dances to high school musical so..."

Claire is the neurotic, pseudo-Jewish overbearing mom and way too attractive for Phil, but she's clearly secretly as dorky as he is, so it's ok.

And their three kids: Haley is the pretty, ditzy, boy obsessed teenager who's permanently attached to her phone, Alex is the 'smart one' who's always provoking the other two, and Luke is the innocent, dim little boy, truly Phil's equally immature son who laughs at his jokes and goes treasure hunting under the house with him.

Then we have Mitchell, Cameron, and their adopted Vietnamese baby Lily. Mitchell is generally annoying and definitely the weakest character, but his saving grace is that he brought in Cam, who's by far the best, and a true star of this show. Cam is beyond hilarious, super dramatic and flamboyant, but surprisingly never annoying. Loving and round, he's the mother hen who's also a drummer that played college football. He tells us, "I'm sort of like Costco I'm big, I'm not fancy, and I dare you to not like me." Mitchell's contrary reserve creates the laughable tension between the two of them as he tries to tone Cam down and Cam tries to loosen him up.

Jay, Gloria and Manny are a particularly amusing trio, newest to one another. When the show starts, Jay and Gloria have only been married for 6 months and are still learning to live together as a family with her chubby Colombian son, Manny. Gloria is very young, really the same age as Claire and Mitchell, and incredibly gorgeous with such a thick Colombian accent that everything she says is funny. She's actually so gorgeous that it's a joke in and of itself, and while its totally unclear how Jay got her, she genuinely loves him, despite being accused of being a "coal digger." She's best when she bursts into her Colombian aggression and berates everyone in Spanish. Manny gives Cam a run for his money. He is just pure gold, with a perfectly appropriate name, as he's a true 'man' child, in touch with his Colombian roots. He drinks espresso and writes poetry to impress girls, while at the same time still a little boy, scared to death by a horror movie or a rollercoaster. Manny and Gloria are great together, and Jay is just trying to figure out what the hell is going on, as this basically all-American, traditional guy suddenly has "a house that looks like Colombia and a gay son and a Chinese granddaughter."

And somehow it all works. In all shapes and sizes, they come together as a family that, at the end of the day, really does love each other, and the dysfunction is really just a colorful version of function. Or, in Haley's boyfriend, Dylan's words, "a family like this, that's passionate and accepting of hot foreigners, or gay dudes, or nutty people, you know, a family that actually loves each other." With so much heart, its really a feel-good show. Each episode brings them closer together as they adjust to their new family and we get to watch while they sing, dance, dress up like clowns, and accidentally shoot one another on the way.

Here are the best moments of the season so far: writing them doesn't do them justice without Phil's various voices, Gloria's accent, and Cam's high pitch, but just try to imagine...

Best Moment Ever: The Circle of Life playing in the background, Cam walks out holding up Lily like Baby Simba in the Lion King.
This is amazing on so many levels, that Lily is Baby Simba, but also that Cam is symbolically announcing the new reign of the 'modern family.'


Dorky Phil
To the camera on Claire's gifts: "Things I want, robot dog, night vision goggles, bug vacuum, GPS watch, speakers that look like rocks, I love my wife but she sucks at giving gifts, I'm sorry for the pay channel language but...oh, yogurt maker, I cant not think of things I want."

"What's my favorite way to relax? Throw on the wireless headphones and disappear into the nature channel. "

Phil to Dunphys: "Not just that, the iPad comes out, on my actual birthday. Its like Steve Jobs and God got together to say, we love you Phil!"

Phil when Claire didn't get the iPad: "Next week?? That's like the worst thing you can say to an early adopter." EARLY ADOPTER! Of course he is.

Claire: "Are you watching Gloria in my sunglasses?"
Phil: "Is she moving in slow motion or is my brain doing that?" Amazing, because Phil is obviously obsessed with Gloria.

Phil-Claire Romance: Role playing

Phil: Mind if I join you? I'm Clive, Clive Bigsby
Claire: Yes I can see that, I'm Juliana, so Clive you in town for a convention or do you just forget your name a lot?
Phil: Pretty kitty has nails, I like that. I'm in town for a tradeshow, I design high-end electro acoustic transducers
Claire: Wow that is very specific.
Phil: It's a fancy way of saying I get things to make noise.

Phil's past pastimes are very revealing about his character:
Claire: "I am very smart. I had a 4.0 in college. How about you?"
Phil: "I was almost that, despite my substantial time commitment to cheerleading."
Phil to the camera: "Cheerleading, in my college, was cool, the football players were so jealous they wouldn't even let me and my buddies, Trevor, Scotty, and Ling, go to their parties."

Phil to Mitchell rushing home from airport: "Relax punk, I got this [...] You're talking to a guy who made his way through college by driving a Pedi cab."

Dylan: "Oh you were in a band?"
Phil: "I could've been, but in high school I was really all about my magic."

Phil: "Fathers-in-law are tough because you can't let them push you around and you also have to show them respect. It's like walking a tight rope, which, by the way, I can do because I went to trapeze school. Did Jay? I doubt it."

Luke's reactions
Luke to Phil about the picture of Van Gogh: "Hey dad, he kind of looks like Uncle Mitchell, if Uncle Mitchell were insane." BEST CALL EVER. Who said Luke's not smart?

Luke's reaction to Manny is priceless:
"Manny is the worst roommate ever. Everything he finds, he folds."
"Last night we had a fire drill, not the hotel, just us."


Cam self- expression:
When Cam makes his horsey go!

"I collect antique fountain pens, I'm quite adept at Japanese flower arrangement, ikebana, and I was a starting offensive lineman at the University of Illinois, SURPRISE!"

On his parents knowing he was gay: "And my parents they always just knew, my mother says labor with me took 36 hours because I came out of the womb like this, HELLO!"

Fizbo! "I've known I wanted to be a clown since I found out clowns were just people with makeup. As a matter of fact, by the time I was a teenager, if I wasn't in school or fishin', I was clownin'. There are 4 types of clowns. A tramp, an august, a white face and a character. I am a classically trained august clown named Fizbo." Too good, borderline creepy.

Diva Cam:
To the camera, in defense of mother from baby class questioning Streep's role in Mamma Mia to: "Excuse me, Meryl Streep could play batman and be the right choice, she's perfection, whether she's divorcing Kramer, whether she's wearing Prada, don't even get me started on Sophie's choice, I get emotional thinking about it, she couldn't forgive herself!"

The New Greensleevers "You don't understand, this group was my Dream Girls, I was Effie!" Perfect. He so is.

Cam: "Well Mitchell is an amazing lawyer. My dream for him is that one day he'll be on the Supreme Court."
Mitchell: "Why cam?"
Cam: "So at parties I can tell everyone my partner's one of the Supremes!"

Mitchell:"I just quit my job!"
Cam: "I'm used to nice things, what are we gonna do!"

Cam (hysterical): "I am in a really dark space. Being away from my lily is literally torture, and I can't pressure Mitchell, but I really, really, really just want him to get a job so I can go back to being a stay at home dad slash trophy wife."

CAM IN CHARGE: When they think they hear someone in Lily's room, Cam jumps up and grabs a bat, "It's go time!" [...] "It comes to me naturally, I spent a year as a crossing guard."

When Cam plays drums with Dylan's band. Nice solo.


Jay and Gloria's relationship:

Gloria: What about the fan in Manny's room?
Jay: Oh yeah, Call a guy.
Gloria: No you're supposed to do it with him, its important we teach him to do things for himself, my culture men take great pride in doing physical labor.
Jay: I know, that's why I hire people from your culture.
Gloria: (laughs) You're too funny, I'm going to share that one with my next husband, when we're spending all your money.

Manny's Colombian pride:

Jay: Why are you drinking coffee anyway?
Manny: It's my culture, I'm Colombian.
Jay: How much of this did you drink?
Manny: Give me a break, I have to climb a rope today!

Manny's traditional Colombian poncho: "I want my classmates to know I'm proud of my heritage."


Mr. Mature:
Manny to Gloria: "But if this so-called Santa Claus doesn't bring me a burgundy dinner jacket, we're going to have a big problem."

Manny to Gloria and Jay: "That part was mine, I was born to play Tevya, instead they gave it to Raw Jackson, what does he know from suffering!"

Manny to Gloria: "Do I have time for a steam?"

Manny to Phil: "Is that Claire's baked brie I smell?"

Manny to airport security: "I'm just a boy trying to bring style back to travel."

MANNY'S LADIES. As we know, Manny is quite the ladies man, or at least he tries to be. He's a romantic soul, always trying to woo a new girl, and though always rejected, his efforts are appreciated here.
Brenda Feldman:

Manny: I want to tell Brenda Feldman I love her.
Gloria: Manny, she's sixteen!
Manny: Oh, it's ok for you to take an older lover?

The poem he wrote to her: "We're from different worlds, yet we somehow fit together. Love is what binds us, through fair or stormy weather, I stand before you now to let you know that I have one agenda, my heart is yours Feldman, Brenda."

Bianca Douglas:
Manny to Gloria and Jay:
"I've tried everything to get her attention, opening doors, having a milk sent over in the cafeteria, nothings worked."

Manny: Look I came on strong with that whole funny guy bit, this is me just being myself.

Bianca: Ok, hey do you know who that boy is over there?
Manny: Oh that's Dylan, he's Haley's boyfriend.
Bianca: He's so cute and tall.
Manny: I'm still growing, give me a break

And then.... Manny: "Bianca called me three times tonight, I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm starting to feel smothered."

His adult date. Of course.
"Her name is Whitney. I met her in an online book club, we both like vampire fiction and the romance of eternal life"
Gloria to Whitney: "You just need to find your inner beauty."
Manny: "It's hiding beneath a mask of insecurity."

Fiona Gunderson:
Manny to Cam and Mitchell: "I went for the gold, Fiona Gunderson, I poured my heart and soul into a poem. Left it on her desk, I even burned the edges to make it look fancy."

Manny: "Maybe because you're the cutest girl in school, and you have a laugh that makes science lab seem like recess."

And then...Manny: "You've gotta be kidding me. Lets get out of here, this chick's crazy."

In each episode, we see different family members bonding. Here are some of the best interfamily interactions:
Jay and Cam's "moon landing."

Jay: Ahhh! What the hell was that?
Cam: Our butts pressed against each other
Jay: They didn't press, it was glancing, stop talking about it
Cam: Oh come on, all the time you've spent in a locker room, this cant be your first moon landing
Jay: You've got a name for it?
Cam: Its very common, you got off easy, at least it didn't happen after a shower...
Jay: Enough
Cam: ....we call that a Splash Down

Cam-Gloria interaction
When Cam and Gloria come back to find his wheels stolen:

Cam: I'm pretty sure I had wheels when I parked here
Gloria: Uyuyuy who did this??
Cam: No it's ok! Gloria!
Gloria: Who did this you coward son of bitches!
Cam: No its ok everybody I'm insured!
Gloria: What you scared, you scared to show your faces, you know that!
Cam: No it's alright every body!
Gloria: Cameron, wait in the car!
Cam: Gloria I think its drivable! Gloria!

And for my favorite, Manny and Luke, 10 year old man meets 11 year old boy:
In Hawaii:

Manny: Don't you want to keep our room neat, you know, in case we entertain?
Luke: Who would we entertain?
Manny: I noticed some lovely tweens down by the kids club. Maybe we could find a nice spot near them by the pool and send over some virgin mai tais. They may be interested in two sophisticated men like us.
Luke: I am a bathroom martian, beep. Boop.

As usual, Manny's got his eye on the prize.

Manny: I'm curious, is there any sand left on the beach or did you bring it all up to our bathroom?
Luke: Sorry Mom.

Manny: And now you're sitting on my linen jacket. I guess I can't have nice things.
Luke: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was there. I'M WRINKING YOUR LINEN, I'M WRINKLING YOUR LINEN, OOOH.
Luke: Fine, I'll just move in with my sisters.
Manny: Oh no, who will pee all over the bathroom floor?
Luke: I was brushing my teeth at the same time! You try to do that.

Manny: Okay, let me just say what everyone's thinking. My jacket's a mess. It wouldn't be, but someone used the iron to make grilled cheese.

Luke: I had bread, I had cheese and I had an iron, what was I supposed to do?

Mitchell and Claire
Their brother/sister ice skating team called Fire and Nice--and doing their dance in front of everyone in the parking lot--Amazing, finally can see why they're both in their respective relationships. Best moment for both of them, by far.

Its clear that Phil, Cam and Manny are the indisputable standouts. Let's see which one makes us laugh hardest tonight. Until then, I'm sure I've missed some favorite moments, so post away!

On a final note--what's with the Dunphy kids in all the commercials??