Modern Family recap: Chunkin Truths

Phil ponders his stifled creativity, while Cam sets out to prove himself
Ep. 09 | Aired Nov 23, 2011

WHAT WOULD PHIL DUNPHY DO? The reappearance of an old friend sparks drama in the Dunphy household

Richard Foreman/ABC

In the spirit of the holiday before us, I'd like to start with a small confession. I was a bit of a Pritchett yesterday when I learned that Modern Family was going to air a new episode the night before Thanksgiving. And in this case, I use the word Pritchett to mean I was a bit of a sour face at the parade. ("A recap? Before Thanksgiving?! The horror!" I know, it's not the coal mines.) But after tuning into last night's episode, which, naturally, found the gang celebrating Thanksgiving, I felt bad about ever having negative feelings about it because the episode filled me with the warm fuzzy feeling that left me feeling incredibly thankful for one of my favorite comedies.

It took a while to get there, though. In fact, "Punkin Chunkin" started off a bit slow for my liking. (I invite you to kindly disagree.) We started off being introduced to Kenneth (Book of Mormon's Josh Gad), an odd boy who once lived next to Claire and Phil. Kenneth always shared a special bond with Phil and soon came to learn that Kenneth credited Phil for his successes in life -- and he had plenty of it. Frankly, the kid was a bona fide, blimp-buying success, who, like most bajillionaires, seemed to have evaded the task of buying a comb or a decent pair of shoes. But when he told Phil how well his "What would Phil Dunphy Do?" motto (I'll take this phrase scrawled on a t-shirt now, please. Size small.) worked out for him, Luke questioned why Phil hadn't experienced the same level of success.

Phil immediately turned his attention to Claire after realizing that she often puts down his ideas and hinders his creativity. (Was this really a newsflash, Phil?) I kept waiting for some twist with this story -- namely I anticipated the other shoe to drop with Kenneth. He was bankrupt, or secretly a criminal, or a total freak in some way, I told myself. But nothing ever happened. Was I alone in waiting for something else to happen with him? Or has TV just made me paranoid?

Meanwhile, Cam experienced a similar problem with his live-in wet blanket Mitchell, stemming from an argument over one of Cam's farm stories. Mitchell told Cam that he doubted the authenticity of his punkin chunkin story because it was impossible to launch a pumpkin the length of a football field -- and as we all know, if there's one thing Cam takes pride in, it's authenticity (whether he's choosing a baby wig, putting together a costume, and, especially, when telling his stories). Later, they'd set out to put this to the test.

But before I get to that, two other side plots took place that helped round out the Pritchett vs. others plot of the evening. Haley and Alex dented Claire's mom-mobile while driving around and Alex took issue with lying about it. Haley said as long as they could get their mom to go somewhere in the van without noticing it, they could convince her it happened while she was out and about. (Basically, it further proved what we already know: Haley's missing her conscience and Alex is a prude.)

And over at Jay's, Jay and Gloria were butting heads over a "horn of ugly" that Manny made for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. We've always known that Gloria and Jay greatly differ in their parenting styles, particularly because Gloria likes to focus on building Manny up as a young person while Jay is, as the episode points out, the king of realism, a belief he clearly spread to his children.

NEXT: The week's best lines

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