Modern Family recap: KEYp Your Cool

Luke and Manny's science project unleashes the family's competitive spirit.
Ep. 12 | Aired Jan 11, 2012

EGG HEAD Claire's obsession with winning stems from -- what else? -- daddy issues.

Petter Hopper Stone/ABC

Families are made up of the people who can withstand our screams, our lies, and our deep-seated hopes of one day defeating them in a public arena. That might sound negative, but it's true: Love isn't always expressed through sappy cards or overdramatic music at convenient times. It's the daily routine, the good and the bad, that help reveal to us the ones who really care, and the ones we really care about. Sure, the various permutations of our favorite Modern Family may fight, but that's only because they are so (obsessively, perhaps borderline unhealthily) invested in one another's lives. If they aren't going to help encourage academic pursuits, professional development or foot care regimens, who will? And if we, the viewer, can't call someone in our immediate clan a "crazy old witch," we obviously have no business exchanging presents. You lie because you care; you cry because you care.

Branching out with his own real estate firm, Phil prepared for a hot and sexy seminar he was giving, which quickly proved easier to pass up than a 13-year-old's science project. But since Phil Dunphy has never met a challenge he couldn't beat nor a person he couldn't win over, and because the economy's still flat, he decided he'd lure his potential clients in with flair straight from the Party City stockroom, rooted in a memorable catchphrase. His five KEYs to success -- six, if you stick around past the free mouse pad reveal -- needed some assistance, which led him to rely on his ultra-dependable firstborn, Haley. She's about to go to college (or something) so throwing an oversize styrofoam object at her hands-free mic-wearing father is crucial to her maturation. And gives her a chance to stretch her humility muscles before the freshman 15 and a few bad frat parties do it for her.

Manny took a break from the life of the mind he usually lives, to try his hand at making something that wasn't found in Mastering The Art of French Cooking -- speaking from experience, boeuf bourguignon is harder than Amy Adams made it out to be -- and wouldn't be worn by a 75-year-old count. His challenging assignment was to create a vessel that would protect an egg from a one-story fall, which proved to be more difficult than deciphering his mother's hyena-like cackle when speaking with her Colombian family members. Jay offered some suggestions ("breakfast" came first) to help make his boy a winner, a passing interest that only intensified once he heard Claire had been known to help Luke with his schoolwork, and had a knack for painting no one knew about. Cut to: Claire hitting the deck after Luke's initial egg drop, and subsequent "right under his nose" idea that left him dangling from the banister. The kid does need help. No good parent should cut their child's grapes (does it bug you, too?) which meant Jay was going to have to publicly defeat Claire, and thus, Luke, to remind his daughter what losing feels like, which somehow benefits her parenting skills, and -- oh yeah! -- helps complete Manny's homework assignment.

NEXT: Cam and Mitchell get involved in some actual song and dance

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