'Modern Family' Finale: The Joy of Inside Jokes

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As the series wraps up its second season, it rewards regular viewers by referring back to episodes from last year

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ABC

We've known the Modern Family gang for two whole seasons now, and we finally have some inside jokes. The finale of this season was packed with references not only to this year's episodes, but also to moments in season one. It made me feel like I really knew the Dunphy-Pritchets, like we're at that point in our relationship where things just click.

It's Jay's birthday, and after last year's hectic affair—Gloria invited the entire family on their romantic getaway to Hawaii, and chaos ensued, obviously—all Jay wants is to spend a quiet day fishing. As Jay heads out, the rest of the family preps for his birthday celebration. Claire and Mitchell, presumably getting a little inspiration from the Internet, decide to recreate a childhood photo of them in their old backyard. Cam is supposed to get the fancy bakery cake. And the Dunphy kids are finishing up a video montage of the family.

That all sounds peachy. But, of course everything goes all wrong. Claire and Mitchell get chased up a tree house by a dog. So instead of getting the shot, they get wasted with a bottle of wine Phil and Claire had purchased for Jay's birthday. And awkwardly discuss their inferiority complex to Manny.

The kids sit down to edit the documentary, which they'd been working on all year. They've taken clips of each family member from this season's episodes, which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside as I sat there thinking "Oh, I remember that." I really felt included.

The montage reminded us of the good times we've had with the Modern Family members, but it also sucked&nobody said anything nice about Jay. Luke offers to fix it, but first he needs a glass of chocolate milk, with extra salt (yet, another reference).

Meanwhile Cam is bonding with Manny, helping him win the heart of a girl. He is tasked with getting the cake from a bakery, and as he is coaching Manny over the phone, he sounds like a big pedophile (props to Modern Family for making pedophilia funny—not an easy task). He gets kicked out, so Jay has to pick up his own cake, meaning he can't spend the day fishing, meaning his birthday is ruined.

At the celebration, more goes wrong. The newest member of the family, the dog, ruins the cake. Jay's birthday presents mostly stink, besides Gloria's present. (Jay had asked for a saxophone so she got him a telephone in the shape of lips: a "sexiphone") But, leave it to Manny to save the day. He recreates a boating scene in the pool, and it's very cute. So cute that it inspired Cam and Mitchell to want another child ("a boy this time?" asks Cam).

The final episode not only reminded us why we fell in love with the crew, but it also gave us a reason to come back next fall. Will there be another member in the Modern Family clan? And, as the show grows it's nice to know they reward their loyal watchers, hiding jokes in episodes, giving us something more to laugh at than Gloria's language gaffes.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

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