'Modern Family' Premiere: 3 Lessons in Letting Go

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ABC

Modern Family returned last night, and it was just like seeing old friends again. Each character's individual neuroses and quirks were met with a happy sigh, and while last season was spent exploring issues like fear or control, the premiere concerned itself with letting go and nostalgia. The Dunphys are set to sell the old family car, which spurs a surprise emotional reaction from Claire, prompting Phil to take the family for one final drive down memory lane. Meanwhile, at the Pritchett house, Gloria must deal with sharing her precious son Manny with another (grade-schooled) woman, a feat her hot-blooded Colombian nature can't bear. Over at Mitchell's, we see our tightly-wound lawyer trying to live out his dream of being a handyman while building a princess castle for Lily.

As always, the episode is filled with lessons we all can learn from:

Sometimes, it's better to relive the memories through photographs. Anyone can empathize with the attachment that Claire feels to the old family station wagon. A car—more specifically the family car that's seen the rushed drives to the hospital during labor, that's taken the children to and from various extracurricular activities, and dragged them to the grandparents' house—is like another member of the family. Our cars have names, and some of us spend more time with our car than our spouses.

The family car is also one of the last places where an entire family will, in fact, be together. As each child grows up, gets their license, and heads out the door, goes off to college, moves away for work, gets married—the logistics involved in getting the original family to all ride in one car together make the once ordinary affair a near-impossible endeavor. Phil's attempt at giving Claire a last hurrah in the car is (as his attempts always are) well-meaning, but also a reminder at why parents usually rejoice when their kids get drivers licenses.



Experience as an intern building theater sets at the Songbird Summer Playhouse doesn't make up for lack of basic safety skills. Mitchell's determination in building Lily her dream princess playhouse himself is beyond adorable, but acts of physical strength were never quite his strong suit. He tries to finish the construction alone after realizing that Jay and Cam were in "cahoots" to ease him away from the power drill—which yields less-than-desirable results. Lucky for him, he has a partner who understands it's better to just leave him with his pride and pretend he's not stuck inside the princess house...but leaves a hammer, just in case.



The day when another woman thinks she knows what's best for your son might come along sooner than you think. Sofia Vergara stole the show last night, hands-down. We missed her fiery bursts of passion this summer, and nothing's more hilarious than her protective and jealous Colombian nature come out in fighting for the title of the No. 1 Woman in Manny's life.



How many people went and tried putting a bit of salt in their chocolate milk after the episode?

The best moment of the episode, however, comes after Manny says he's moved on to another girl in his history class, one with whom he plays "Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon." Her following reaction was one for women everywhere. Thank you, Gloria.

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Aylin Zafar is a freelance writer based in New York.

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