Modern Family Recap: What Would Phil Dunphy Do?

This Thanksgiving, it’s time we ask ourselves an important question: What Would Phil Dunphy Do? If it involves wacky ideas, silly impressions, lax parenting decisions or a childlike sense of wonderment and sincerity, it’s probably a Phil Dunphy move. Last night’s episode of Modern Family played out one of its most familiar themes, literally dividing the family into two teams: the realists (the Pritchetts) versus the dreamers (Phil and everyone else). The push and pull between the three main couples—all of whom have an Abbott and Costello straight man versus zany wacko dynamic—has always been the show’s lifeblood. If revisiting this dynamic sometimes comes at the detriment of plot and character development, well, at least it’s good for laughs.

It all starts when the Dunphys receive a visit from Kenneth, a former neighborhood kid who idolized Phil. Ten years later, Kenneth (played by The Book of Mormon star Josh Gad) is a schlubby charmer with sideburns and a green hoodie--fashion shorthand for a twenty-something who is either a college dropout and/or an Internet jillionaire. Kenneth is both--he is in town to buy a blimp. And he owes it all to Phil, who always told him to follow his heart. His reunion with Phil involves the most extravagant manshake ever—complete with step-dancing and belly slapping--and Claire, per usual, is grossed out. In fact, while Phil and Luke and Haley are warm and friendly and captivated by Kenneth’s success, Claire is shrill and cold and condescending (apparently Kenneth stared at her a little too long when he was a kid, and so somehow that makes being bitchy OK). That reaction seems precisely why, when Haley later accidentally dents Claire’s car, she and a guilt-stricken Alex go to great lengths to hide it from Claire—she’s terrifying!

It’s only later after Kenneth’s left and Phil and Luke are creatively setting up the kitchen for Thanksgiving with four little tables (bistro style!), and napkin origami, that Luke wonders why, if Kenneth made it big by using What Would Phil Dunphy Do as his mantra, why isn’t Phil the one who’s rich? The answer, of course, is Claire, who tells Phil to just set one long table and unfold his whimsical napkins. It’s Claire who has folded his dreams. Then we get a window into some of Phil’s best ideas that have been squelched by Claire—the rice pudding franchise (have you guys been to Rice to Riches in Soho? It’s a real thing!), the adult tricycles, and the potentially dangerous Real Head Scratcher ™. "I love you, Phil," Claire says, "but—". "Stop right there, Phil retorts, "I love your ‘I love you’, but I’m getting awfully tired of your ‘but’. (Yeah, I heard it.)" Read More...


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