Modern Family on ABC

2009, TV Show

Modern Family Episode: "Unplugged"

Season 2, Episode 5
Episode Synopsis: The Dunphys try to avoid a complete communication breakdown by going without their electronic devices. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Cameron shop for preschools for Lily; and Jay and Manny worry about Gloria's obsession with a neighbor's barking dog.
Original Air Date: Oct 20, 2010
Guest Cast Taylor Nichols: Mr. Plympton Michael Rothhaar: Larry Carla Renata: Nikki Lauren Cohan: Receptionist
Full Episode
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Season 2, Episode 5
Paid | iTunes
Length: 21:36
Aired: 10/20/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Modern Family Episode Recap: "Unplugged" Season 2, Episode 5

On another laugh-out-loud episode of Modern Family, the Dunphys compete to stay off gadgets, Mitchell and Cameron play the diversity card trying to get Lily into a prestigious preschool, while Jay and Manny are paranoid that Gloria may have committed a crime against a canine.

Jay, Gloria, and Manny are woken up by the incessant barking of their neighbor's dog. Jay tried to tease Gloria about — what else? — Colombia, but she snaps and heads over to confront the neighbor.

At Cam and Mitchell's, Mitchell returns from a jog, frantic that "all the children are gone!" It turns out all of Lily's "friends" — I've never found 1 year olds to be very socially discerning — have clandestinely signed up for preschool after outwardly agreeing to wait another year. Mitchell received this information not from "Boobs Laurie" or "Adult Braces Laurie," but from "Great Shoes Laurie." Now her dads are panicked that she'll be left behind. "Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America."

The Dunphys are enjoying breakfast to the soundtrack of beeps, blips, and tapping, as everyone in the family, apart from Claire is glued to a cell phone, laptop, iPad or video game. Claire has had it with her family of tech-addicted zombies and demands everyone to unplug. Mitchell calls for preschool recommendations. When Claire jokes that they should buy her a Blackberry, since future Lily will undoubtedly be as glued to a PDA as her kids, Cameron takes it literally exclaiming, "Lily doesn't have the dexterity for that, Claire!"

Claire suggests Wagon Wheel, where her kids went, and explains that Billingsley Academy is very exclusive and nearly impossible to get into. Mitchell starts to panic and Claire tries to calm him down. Just as she's assuring him that her kids didn't go Billingsly and they turned out fine, she notices Luke playing video games and eating cereal hands-free simultaneously. Some of you have commented that Luke's dumb-dumb routine is a little too, well, dumb for you, and I'm sort of starting to agree. He does seem to take after Phil, but it seems that idiot apple rolled a ways away from the goofy tree.

Gloria storms next door and confronts her neighbor about the barking dog, who belongs to his ex-wife and for whom he has little affection. Manny attempts to get to the psychological root of his neighbor's anger, but the neighbor doesn't find him to be as charming as the rest of us do. He argues with the Pritchetts that they've come over to complain about the dog while he's never said a word about their squawking parrot. They cut to a montage of Gloria screaming "Jay!" in rapid succession that, sure enough, sounds pretty parrot-like. The neighbor storms off and they've come no closer to a good night's sleep.

Meanwhile, Claire and Phil have called a family meeting to impose a weeklong electronics ban. The kids are horrified that they won't be able to do homework, talk to friends or play Plants vs. Zombies. Claire and Phil encourage them to use the now archaic landline, but they are so mobile they don't even know the number. While Phil is usually just as addicted to the net as the kids, he's got his Fantasy Football team locked in and has no problem hopping on board Claire's "horse and buggy to yesteryear," claiming that for the next week he'd count himself among the Amish. "Jebediah Dunphy: Raising barns, witnessing murders, making electric fireplace hearths." Phil decides to incentivize the ban by making it a contest and inadvertently promises them their dream prizes: a computer, a car, and a chicken pot pie. It's pretty easy to match the prize to the kid.  He's confident that he and Claire can outlast their technophile offspring.

At Wagon Wheel Preschool, Cam and Mitchell are anxiously awaiting their interview, over-thinking what to say and how to "sell" Lily to the admissions people. The receptionist tells them they have to relax and convinces them that two gay men with a minority baby basically have carte blanche for getting into private schools, so that they can diversify the schools' brochures, of course. Love the moment at the end of this scene where Cam tries to buddy up to the receptionist by going "urban" and she rejects him!

The dog-owning neighbor arrives at the Pritchetts looking for his missing dog, insinuating that they had something to do with its disappearance. They slam the door in his face and Jay immediately questions Gloria, who clearly has some involvement in the dog-napping. In a testimonial, Jay explains that Gloria's family background has left her pretty comfortable with killing, and there's a flashback to the murder and decapitation of a rat by Gloria's hand. Jay finishes with a priceless cartel reference: "She left the head out there to send a message to the other rats."

At the Dunphys', the tech ban seems to be going surprisingly well. Phil practiced meditating (read: napping) at work, Haley is working on an art project, and Luke has constructed a set of towers, which he promptly turns into a live video game by smashing them with a toy battle ax. He's interrupted by a call from a friend alerting him to a parasailing donkey video on YouTube, which Phil is equally excited about. This temptation is too much for Luke and he drops out of the contest. Alex comes storming in, furious that she received a B on a science paper because she was forced to reference outdated encyclopedias rather than the Internet, which some of you may know as the home of the factually treacherous Wikipedia. She promptly quits the contest as well and we see Haley's steely resolve to win a car.

Jay tries, once again, to pry information about Gloria from Manny. Like a mini-mobster, Manny swills espresso and advises Jay to not "ask questions you don't want to know the answers to."

Cameron and Mitchell have secured an interview at Billingsley when Claire calls to tell them they've gotten into Wagon Wheel. Mitchell wants to hedge their bets and aim for the "Harvard of Preschools."

Jay is in the garage, inspecting a shovel for signs of doggie homicide, when Manny sneaks up on him. They're both on edge and a little scared of Gloria. On cue, she appears behind both of them, ominous and as thug-like as Sophia Vergara can get. Manny quickly throws Jay under the bus, revealing his suspicions that she killed the dog. Gloria is offended and storms off. She admits to stealing the dog and giving it to her hairdresser's brother and his kids where it will be happier. Jay admonishes her for stealing, explaining that in this country stealing is against the law, even if the same isn't true of Colombia. Gloria sarcastically criticizes Jay's stereotype of Colombia, where "we trip over goats and we kill people in the street! Do you know how offensive that is? Like we're Peruvians!"

In a testimonial, Claire reveals how difficult the contest was because the rest of the world is plugged in, even if you're not. It's hilarious watching Claire go through the torture of trying to talk to a person over the phone. Who among us has not screamed an over-annunciated "REP-RE-SEN-TA-TIVE" into the phone? She opens the laptop and as the familiar AOL voice chirps, "You've got mail," Phil and Haley both bust her. Truthfully, I find it hard to believe that Phil would allow his family to still use AOL, but that's neither here nor there. Now it's down to Haley vs. Phil.

At Billingsley, Cam and Mitchell are fawning over the school's amenities (a ladybug sanctuary? It's probably more common than you think) when their competition arrives.

Cameron: "Disabled interracial lesbians with an African kicker?"
Mitchell: Did not see that coming.

Then they both make the most hilarious "blown away" face, like when one is truly impressed by someone who has defeated them.

Phil is at home reading the newspaper when he realizes his Fantasy Football league is in trouble and he needs to get online. He tries to sneak to the bathroom, but Claire is wise to his tricks and heads him off at the pass. At this point, they hear Haley squealing in gossip-drenched delight and they are positive she's on the phone. They burst in, catching her in the act. Now that Phil's won, he hops on the nearest laptop to drop Tom Brady. But Haley reveals she just carved a phone out of soap and colored it in with a marker, the art project from earlier, and was luring them to catch her. As Haley delights in her victory, Phil says solemnly, "Holy crap, we've been Shawshanked."

At the Billingsley interview, Mitch and Cam are struggling to impress and set themselves apart from other applicants. So naturally, Cam takes on a stereotypical Native American persona, complete with stiff broken English and eagle references, and ends up making both of them look like idiots.

Claire and Phil have to sit Haley down and renege on the car offer. Cam and Mitchell stop by and tell Claire they hated Billingsley. She accuses them of blowing the interview, but they confess they were beaten by the wheelchair-bound lesbians.

Jay tries to apologize to Gloria for all the crap he gives her about Colombia by buying them a trip there where he wants to see her village and learn her culture. She's excited but admits she can't take him back there because of two hit-and-run incidents she was involved in with goats.

The post-script of the episode shows more of the incredibly awkward Billingsley interview. You gotta give Cam credit — it's a pretty good imitation.

What did you think? I laughed out loud at so many moments of this episode, there are barely any shows that can do that anymore! How long do you think you could last unplugged in a Dunphy-style technology ban? Anyone have any good "teaching an inconsiderate neighbor a lesson" stories? Ever lie/stretch the truth to be admitted somewhere exclusive? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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On another laugh-out-loud episode of Modern Family, the Dunphys compete to stay off gadgets, Mitchell and Cameron play the diversity card trying to get Lily into a prestigious preschool, while Jay and Manny are paranoid that Gloria may have committed a crime against a canine.

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Premiered: September 23, 2009, on ABC
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (1,686 ratings)
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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 son; Jay's daughter, Claire, and her family; and Jay's son, Mitchell, who lives with his partner, Cameron.

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