'Modern Family': How to Live Without Gadgets, Get Your Kid into Pre-School, and More



This week, Modern Family decided to give its characters some room to breathe and go at life on their own—no big Sunday dinner with a family intervention, no meddling in their siblings' relationships, and no unifying theme or voice-over. What resulted was one of the funnier episodes in a while.

The show opens with a picture-perfect scene of the modern-day family at the dining table, each child and Phil engrossed in their individual tech gadgets. (This is what Norman Rockwell would be painting if he were around to document the 2010 version of family life, by the way.) Frustrated, Claire declares that everyone will go a week sans technology—computers, cell phones, video games, everything. Of course, Phil can't help but get ahead of himself and promises a reward to whoever goes the longest without giving in to their gadgets. Alex wants a new computer, Haley wants a car, and Luke wants...chicken pot pie.

Meanwhile, at the Pritchett-Delgado house, a neighbor's dog's barking is keeping Gloria and Manny up at night. After a confrontation with the owner and a sudden silencing of the dog, both Jay and Manny are worried that Gloria may have taken matters into her own hands (Jay explains that she "always had a certain comfort level when it comes to killing").

The Pritchett-Tuckers have themselves worked up trying to get Lily into a top preschool, after finding out the other parents at the playground sneakily enrolled their children early. "Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America!" Mitch says, perplexed as usual.

What we learned this week...

It's time to stop underestimating Haley. Luke and Alex gave up early on, but Phil still stood a chance of winning the no-gadget contest after Claire was caught using her computer to make flight arrangements, frustrated by the automated walk-through on the phone. Phil's just about to give in and go online to fix his fantasy league when they hear Haley using her cell phone. Only, she's not. So, uh...Haley's really gotten smarter since last season, huh? Just a few months ago she could barely figure out how to use the remote, and now she's crafting telephones out of bars of soap? Just further proof that teenagers are capable of doing anything when getting a new car is involved.

Trust the little Colombian boy sipping espresso. "I've learned a few things in my 12 years: Don't skimp on linens. Don't compliment a teacher on her figure. And when it comes to my mom, never ask questions I don't want the answers to," Manny tells Jay.

"Disabled, interracial lesbians with an African kicker" always beat "gay adopted parents with a minority baby." After a receptionist at Claire's recommended preschool assure Mitch and Cam that Lily is a shoo-in to any school thanks to being "diverse times three," they decide to try to get into the exclusive Billingsley Academy. "It's like Hogwarts!" Cam gushes. They're sitting happily waiting for their interview until an even more diverse family walks in, leading Cam to the brilliant idea of pretending to be Native-American. You have to see it believe it.

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Aylin Zafar is a freelance writer based in New York.

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