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'Modern Family' recap: Coitus interruptus

January 20, 2011 |  7:22 am

Wednesday night's "Modern Family" was a useful reminder to parents everywhere: get a lock for your bedroom door. It's the Dunphys' anniversary, and their loving children decide to treat their parents to breakfast in bed. Little do poor Alex, Haley and Luke know that Claire and Phil are starting their day with, um, a feast of a different kind (Sorry. No more bad sex metaphors, I promise.) The parents scramble, the kids shriek in horror and trays fly everywhere. 

It was exactly the kind of perfectly orchestrated comedic sequence "Modern Family" does so well. This show is great at taking scenarios that are so familiar as to border on the cliche and actually make them funny again. Phil and Claire's coitus interruptus is a perfect example of this formula: What parent hasn't dealt with this at some point or another? But it was also groundbreaking in its own way. For one thing, as I've mentioned before, for all its politically incorrect humor, "Modern Family" has been -- until now -- a little prudish when it comes to actual sex. Here were Phil and Claire, not only caught doing it, but -- without getting into too much detail here -- in what appeared to be a "zesty" version of it. The scene was raunchy and refreshing at the same time, a rare feat. Now, give us a sex scene between Mitchell and Cameron, or even Jay and Gloria, and "Modern Family" would really be pushing some buttons. 

After the accidental barge-in, the Dunphy kids are traumatized. Alex frantically flushes her eyes out, screaming, "I can still see it!" while Luke puzzles over what, exactly, his dad was doing to his mother. The kids decide to flee the house before their parents can sit them down for what's bound to be an awkward conversation. So they loiter around a gas station parking lot in their pajamas, trying to figure out their next move. It's rare to see all three Dunphy kids in a scene together, especially on their own, and it was nice to see them have an actual conversation. They collectively decide that, hey, running in on their parents is gross, but isn't it better than a divorce? Wise kids indeed.

As usual on "Modern Family," the other two branches of the family tree were in the thick of their own dilemmas. Mitchell and Cameron are on a play date gone horribly awry. Trying to woo Amelia, the owner of a hot-spot restaurant in the neighborhood, Cameron steps on one of Lily's juice boxes, leaving a huge purple stain on Amelia's impeccable white rug. As Mitchell poetically describes it, "It looks like someone bled out." Pandemonium ensues, and they contemplate rearranging the rug (genius idea, if you ask me), but settle on the classic "blame-the-kid" solution. From week to week, I always find myself amused the most by these two. Phil may get the best lines, and there are no duds on this show, but the timing between Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson just can't be matched. For me, it all came down to the line about the rug. "I saw it in Architectural Digest. It costs $50,000. It was in Diane Keaton’s house," Cameron recalls, at length. "Oh no, it was in what’s-her-name’s house. From 'Prizzi’s Honor...'  Exasperated and panicked, Mitchell screams, "Anjelica Huston!" These two understand each other almost innately, and, as a result, drive each other nuts.

Gloria and Jay find themselves in an equally sticky situation. An e-mail mix-up means that Gloria accidentally has sent Claire a nasty e-mail about her reluctance to participate in an upcoming bake sale. Rather than catch a flight to Las Vegas, Gloria and Jay stop by the Dunphys' to clear up the situation, only Claire and Phil are in the middle of their own crisis. Gloria tries to explain herself to Claire, which leads to the same sort of "comedy-of-misunderstanding' we saw in last week's episode. The image of Gloria's cupcakes was funny -- and for most men out there, no doubt exciting -- enough to excuse this overused device. I also appreciate the way that Gloria, for all her fiery personality, is actually very thoughtful and sensitive to what others think of her, so much so that she'd defer a romantic weekend with Jay to patch things up. We saw this side of her last week, and in the school dance episode a little while back. It's nice to know that even bombshells have feelings, too.

So, parents out there, could you relate to this episode of "Modern Family"? 

Lines of the night:

"Why 'da woosh??" --Gloria

"They weren’t there when we started. In fact, you weren’t even there..." --Phil 

"They’re impossible to buy for. We think. We’ve never really tried." --Haley

"Whatever it was, it looked like Dad was winning." --Luke

"Claire, we’re not your parents. We’re in much better shape." --Phil

"Did you guys notice that Dad had the same look on his face as when he smells a new car?" --Luke

"Forgive me for thinking your zesty performance deserves some praise." --Phil

"It happened to me before with another woman. At that time, I was the one getting it. It hurt. You have to admit that you’re only happy when you’re the one cracking the whip. Come on. We all know how you ride Phil. Let go a little. Maybe even taste my cupcakes. I will join you." --Gloria

--Meredith Blake


Complete coverage of 'Modern Family' on Show Tracker

'Modern Family' recap: So great to see you! No, really, it's great!

'Modern Family' recap: A stranger in the hot tub

'Modern Family' recap: The case of the stolen thunder

'Modern Family' recap: Happy hands-giving!

Photo: Little do Luke (Nolan Gould), Haley (Sarah Hyland) and Alex (Ariel Winter) know what horrors await them on the other side of their parents' door.

Credit: ABC/Michael Desmond