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'Modern Family' recap: 'Our long Amish nightmare is over'

October 21, 2010 |  7:06 am

121851_0511_preEver tried to go a day without the Internet?  Or, you know, an hour?  I'll be the first to tell you that it's not easy. In fact, I'll start my recap this week with a little confession. When I'm trying to be productive, I frequently use an application that actually blocks me from the Internet. It's the best 10 bucks I ever spent (well, after I downloaded "Angry Birds" and "Pimple Popper" on my iPhone, that is).

What I'm trying to say is, I would totally lose the Dunphy family challenge. This week, after a particularly distracted and gadget-filled breakfast, Claire calls a family meeting. She wants the family to unplug for a week: No cellphones, no Internet, no video games. That is, of course, harder than it sounds. And it sounds pretty hard. Phil, in his inimitable way, promises a car to Hayley if she wins the competition. Not exactly the reward Claire had in mind, but Hayley is determined to win a car, and to her credit, she pulls a completely ingenious fast one on her parents, carving a bar of soap into the shape of a cellphone, thereby tricking Phil into getting back online. [Updated at 3:38 pm: This post originally suggested that Phil offered the car prize to everyone in the family.] There's no chance in the world that vapid Haley could have come up with this, but hey -- who cares? It was great. Also, would a bar of soap absorb ink from a marker? (These are the questions that keep me up at night, folks.)

While the Dunphys are trying to get back to nature, the Pritchetts were trying to get away from it. The neighbor has a dog who barks incessantly, keeping Gloria and Manny, with their "jung ears," awake most of the night. Turns out the dog belongs to their neighbor's soon-to-be-ex-wife, and she's not going to come get it "unless it starts cra--ping money." (Here's another thing that's great about "Modern Family": Even throwaway characters get some great lines) Besides, he's never mentioned the obnoxious parrot that screams "Jay! Jay! Jay" all the time (If you didn't see that punch line from a mile away, then I worry for you). Gloria takes the matter into her own hands, which worries Jay. See, Gloria "always had a certain comfort level when it comes to killing," as he puts it. (Cue a great flashback in which Gloria, dressed in her all-white Sunday finest, smashes a rat to pieces with a shovel.) Manny and Jay both fear for the life of the dog, but it turns out Gloria sent him to a better place: a farm where he can run free.

Last but not least, at the Pritchett-Tucker household, the order of the day is getting Lily into preschool. The horrors of nursery-school admission for urban toddlers are by now well-chronicled, and every bit as insane as this episode suggests. OK, maybe a ladybug sanctuary is a slight exaggeration, but really, it's only a matter of time. Cameron and Mitchell get a late start in the vicious admissions game, but thanks to their "three-for-one" diversity rating, they're basically guaranteed admission anywhere they want.

They fall in love with the Billingsley Academy ("It's like Hogwarts!" says Cameron) and are sure Lily is a shoo-in. That is, until two lesbians -- one of whom is in a wheelchair -- roll in the front door with a black baby. Cameron and Mitchell panic. Cameron pretends to be Native American, putting on an accent and adopting lots of bad nature metaphors. It might have been convincing had the admissions officer been blind, or never seen Indians except in "Stagecoach." In the end, Lily will have to make do with duckies -- no ladybugs for her.  

This episode was chock full of great lines. Below, a by-no-means comprehensive collection:

"You grew up sleeping through cockfights and revolutions." -- Jay

"Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America." -- Mitchell

"Lily doesn't have the dexterity for that, Claire. What is happening?!?" -- Cameron, freaking out after Claire jokes about getting her a BlackBerry

"Who are you really mad at, the dog or your wife?" -- Manny

"I thought that was a bathroom for homeless people." -- Haley, re: the public library

"For the next week, I may as well be Amish. Jebediah Dunphy: raisin' barns, witnessin' murders, makin' electric fireplace hearths." -- Phil (obviously)

"Don't take this the wrong way, but I have almost no faith in you." -- Claire, talking to Phil (obviously)

"Gay adopted parents with minority babies, you can get into any school you want. You're diverse times three." -- secretary at Wagon Wheel

"Oh, I hear that, girl." -- Cameron's unfortunate response

"According to my credit card, my wife is in Europe searching for the world's most expensive hotel." -- the Pritchetts' neighbor

"I like that Hemingway gets to the point." -- Manny

"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

"In Colombia, we trip over goats and kill people in the streets. Do you know how offensive that is? Like we're Peruvians?" -- Gloria

"Now the dog is happy, Manny can sleep, and we have peeckles." -- Gloria

"Disabled, inter-racial lesbians with an African kicker?" -- Cameron

"Holy crap, we've been Shawshanked!" -- Phil

"My white man name is Tucker. Ready for child to soar, like eagle." -- Cameron, desperately trying to add some diversity to the family.

-- Meredith Blake
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Photo: The Dunphy clan spends some quality time with their electronics. Credit: Eric McCandless / ABC

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