Last week, the Modern Family clan celebrated Halloween with a bit of a struggle. This week, illness and child pageantry took center stage, as the families tried as always, to make each other happy.

On the Dunphy homestead, Phil struggles to find a beeping smoke detector. Claire and Hayley are home sick, quarantined to the master bedroom. Claire is convinced that Hayley will make a mistake by marrying Dylan, and uses her soap opera plotline to bring the point home. The problem with that scenario? Hayley misinterprets the message, and assumes that Claire is the one who regrets marrying a “buffoon,” and she and Phil are on the rocks. Meanwhile, down on his luck real estate agent Phil is playing the doting husband while his wife recoups-- or at least attempting to. In between incessant chirps of the smoke alarm (which Phil, having aced ‘Man 101,’ interprets as constant reminders of his diminishing manhood) he bakes charred ladyfingers and attempts to reconcile some lost sales. Always clever, the writers nailed the Pavlovian plotline this week. I chuckled nearly every time Phil’s emasculation “set off” the fire alarm.

Cameron wants to put Lily in a commercial, but Mitch is hesitant. Cameron pretends to relent, claiming that he and Lily are different… they’re theater people. In fact, he takes Lily on the shoot, grooming and catering to her as any overzealous “Toddlers & Tiara’s” mom would. Gloria spills the beans to Mitch, and he storms on set to convince Cameron that he’s fulfilling some unrequited childhood stardom fantasy. When the cameras start rolling, Cam begins to eat his words. A baby Gap ad, this isn’t. Lily and another Asian baby are dubbed with stereotypical accents, a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in a Godzilla-esque scene. Finally, the two take a stand and pull Lily from the gig, but not before Cam, fresh off his diversity-among-Asians speech, picks up the wrong baby. It’s the thought that counts.

Gloria and Manny visit Jay at work. Manny gets behind the wheel of the forklift. Things don’t exactly go as planned. The worker behind Manny’s accident gets fired, and Manny seeks justice. When Jay refuses to concede and hire back his terminated worker, Manny takes a vow of silence, determined to prove the old man wrong. On the spousal front, Gloria’s need to celebrate every “monumental” occasion of their relationship (first date, first time she cooked, etc.) begins to wear on Jay. She’s determined to re-create their first date, and when Jay can’t remember the details, Manny leverages his inside information. Oh, Manny. Wise beyond your years. Jay, in a moment of tenderness (aww) refers to Manny as his kid, claiming that no matter Manny’s fuss, he’ll never re-hire his employee, and Manny fesses up on the details of their date. They may have their ups-and-downs, but Jay and Manny really seem to be forging a bond. A good episode, but not stellar. Mitchell and Cam have been on a roll this season, with their attempts to raise the perfect child. Phil, as always, is lovable and laughable as the please-at-all-costs patriarch. I can’t help but be a bit bored by the tedium of the Jay/Gloria storylines. She has weird traditions, and her voice is shrill. We got it. Find something new, eh? My favorite lines this week came from the Cameron/Mitchell storyline:

“Let’s just let our daughter have a normal childhood.”
“I think that gay cruise has sailed.”-- Mitchell and Cam

“How did you get on-set?”
“I walked on. It’s not MGM, it’s a warehouse behind a mattress store.”-- Mitchell and Cam What did you think?

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