Modern Family on ABC

2009, TV Show

Modern Family Episode: "Strangers on a Treadmill"

Season 2, Episode 4
Episode Synopsis: Claire and Mitchell make a pact to be honest with each other's mates about, respectively, Cameron's choice of attire and Phil's speech at an upcoming banquet. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria attend a milestone birthday party for an employee's daughter.
Original Air Date: Oct 13, 2010

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Season 2, Episode 4
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Length: 21:38
Aired: 10/13/2010
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Modern Family Episode Recap: "Strangers On A Treadmill" Season 2, Episode 4

This week's Modern Family found Claire and Mitchell teaming up to break judgmental news to one another's partners, Gloria and Jay hitting up a Quinceañera, and Haley schooling Alex in "Mean Girls 101."

The episode opens on Phil running a set of super cheesy (more than usual) jokes by the ever-dopey Luke, a perfect sounding board. We come to find that Phil is preparing for SCARB (Southern California Annual Realtors Banquet), which he has been tapped last minute to host. Claire reveals her fear that Phil is going to bomb at this dinner because he's fun, not funny. She blames herself for laughing at all of Phil's jokes, with her mouth, not her eyes. Moments later we see this in action as Claire uses her mouth to laugh while her eyes express something more along the lines of terror.

Over at Jay's house, he's trying to clear out the DVR (Yes, there's someone out there as anal as I am about keeping the DVR streamlined!) including Manny's old episodes of Antiques Roadshow. Jay wants to go golfing (don't his hobbies seem limited?) and Gloria reminds him that it's one of his employees' daughter's Quinceañera and they've been invited. Jay explains that usually he throws these invites to his secretary, who sends them an Omaha steak, and that's that. While it is hilarious to envision a 15-year old girl receiving a steak from her mom's boss on her birthday, it's never realized because Gloria insists that Jay proves he cares about his employees and attends in person. She fondly remembers the father/daughter dance at her own Quinceañera: "There wasn't a dry eye in the cartel."

Checking in with Cameron and Mitchell, Cam has begun working out again and unfortunately for Mitch, has a new accessory of the lycra-spandex persuasion. Cam's bicycle shorts-clad crotch appears behind digital blurring and is probably the funniest cameo of the episode. Mitchell is mortified, stating, "Maybe there's a person in this world who looks good in bike shorts, but my boyfriend is not that person." But Mitch is too scared to bring it up because Cam gets very defensive about any comments regarding his physique.

Later on, Claire and Mitchell are working out together, oh excuse me, Claire is working out, Mitchell is practicing Troga (treadmill yoga).  When they discover that they both want to protect their spouses from embarrassment, but are too scared of offending them, Mitchell suggests a Strangers on a Train arrangement: they will do each other's dirty work so that neither relationship feels the strain of criticism.

Meanwhile, at the Dunphys, Haley notices Alex clearly trying to court the friendship of a popular girl MacKenzie, and seeming quite desperate. Haley, who claims, "I invented MacKenzie," sees an opportunity to help Alex, who admits she wants to be popular. Haley begins to teach her the ins and outs of passive aggression and withholding approval as a means of seizing social control.

At Cam and Mitchell's, Claire stops by to fulfill her end of the bargain under the guise of dropping off baby clothes for Lily. Cam (and his bleeped out crotch) excitedly tells Claire how he's taking Lily for a bike ride, and he's "leaning towards the park" to which Claire responds "I can see that." Ha!

Meanwhile Mitchell is at the Dunphys, trying to pry the speech out of Phil. Back to Claire who finally comes out with it and tells Cam to lose the bike shorts which sends Cam into the other room audibly sobbing. Phil runs his lame jokes by Mitch who tries to stay strong and keep a straight face but crumbles at the thought of dampening Phil's hopes and fakes it.

At the Quinceañera, Jay is trying to prove to Gloria that he knows his employees.

Jay: Carlos!
Gloria: Lucky guess.
Jay: I'm lucky only one turned around.

I don't know if Jay is kind of racist towards Latinos or if he gets a pass because he's married to one, but I love the jokes. He tries to get Manny to introduce himself to everyone at the party so he can learn their names by offering $2 per intro. At the same time, Gloria realizes they are actually at the engagement party next door by accident.

Claire and Mitchell are arguing over fulfilling various points of the deal and Cam overhears the whole thing, which sends him, once again, to Teary Town.

Claire wants to tell Phil he's not funny but instead, chickens out and just steals his notes at the banquet.

Cam and Mitchell are arguing about the bike shorts issue and Cam hits back claiming he hates Mitchell's beard. Mitchell storms out and begins shaving his beard to prove that he would. Cam stops him, just moved by his offer to do it. It seems as though the two have made up until Cam says, "You can make it up to me by doing my shoulders." While Cam meant a massage, Mitchell is poised at the ready with a razor and shaving cream. And another fight has begun.

Back at Haley's Home for Hottie Hopefuls, Alex is catching on fast, talking down to people and blowing off calls, and Haley is almost in tears with pride. But pretty soon, Alex's true geek identity floats to the surface and she blows it, proclaiming her love for homework as well as for MacKenzie in a lesson in popularity gone wrong.

At the SCARB, Phil is freaking that his speech is gone, but Claire encourages him to just get up there and make the intros, leave the jokes behind.  Phil gets up and initially plays it straight but then his inner-comedian shines through and he is absolutely killing at the banquet.

Jay is still keeping up the charade over at the Quinceañera. When the DJ goes to introduce the engaged couple "en espanol" of course, Jay thinks he's being prompted for a speech and grabs the mic. After offering to pick up the bar tab for a room of strangers, he's still holding the mic when the betrothed couple start dancing. As their moves become sexier and decidedly less "father/daughter," Jay almost starts a fight trying to stop what he thinks is an outrage before Gloria steps in.

The wrap-up just involved the Dunphys as Claire and Phil return home from the banquet and she's singing his praises. He stops her, and with nod to the The Godfather, confronts her with, "I know it was you, Claire. You stole my index cards." Claire apologizes and admits that she feels she needs to stop her family from making mistakes, while Phil suggests that instead she just be there to help them back up.

At this point they encounter Alex, alone and devastated, and it's clear that really, a mother's work is never done.

Thoughts on this week's episode? Ever enter into a pact to get someone else to deliver criticism for you? Do you think Phil would be funny if you knew him in real life, or if you were married to him? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

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This week's Modern Family found Claire and Mitchell teaming up to break judgmental news to one another's partners, Gloria and Jay hitting up a Quinceañera, and Haley schooling Alex in "Mean Girls 101."

The episode opens on Phil running a set of super cheesy (more than usual) jokes by the ever-dopey Luke, a perfect sounding board. We come to find that Phil is preparing for SCARB (Southern California Annual Realtors Banquet), which he has been tapped last minute to host. Claire reveals her fear that Phil is going to bomb at this dinner because he's fun, not funny. She blames herself for laughing at all of Phil's jokes, with her mouth, not her eyes. Moments later we see this in action as Claire uses her mouth to laugh while her eyes express something more along the lines of terror.

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Other Links:
Antiques Roadshow
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Premiered: September 23, 2009, on ABC
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: A mockumentary-style sitcom chronicling the unusual kinship of the extended Pritchett clan, a brood that includes patriarch Jay; his younger Latina wife, Gloria, and her preteen son; Jay's daughter, Claire, and her family; and Jay's son, Mitchell, who lives with his partner, Cameron.

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