Modern Family season premiere recap: The Emmys were right! Suck it!

The family heads to a dude ranch, new Lily wins our hearts, and we explore bad influences in a premiere double-feature
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 21, 2011

GIDDYUP Buffalo Phil and Old Timer hit the trails.

Rick Rowell/ABC

Admittedly, I was among those who bemoaned Modern Family's sweep at the Emmy Awards this weekend -- not because I think they're undeserving. Quite the opposite. (And by that, I don't mean they think I'm undeserving.)

As evident in tonight's double-episode feature, Modern Family earned the lauds it received this weekend, which included a big win for Outstanding Comedy Series. I don't typically like it when a single show dominates an award show, but the Emmys got this right. Let's take a closer look with a recap double feature, complete with a gigantic quoteables section at the very end. (It wasn't easy to compile all the best zingers last night, but it's called production value, people!)

In the first episode of the Modern Family hour (I could really get used to two episodes a week. Agree?), the family headed to a dude ranch in Wyoming for a little vacation, horse riding, (illegal) fireworks, and other boy things.

It's hard to choose which plot stood out from the bunch, because, truth be told, it was one of the more balanced episodes I can recall. I loved that. I cared just as much about Mitchell's male insecurities as I did about Luke and his firework. (Oh, it could have turned out really bad.) I thought the plot about Alex's first (second, third and possibly fourth) kiss was adorable and Dylan won my heart (but not Hayley's hand in marriage) with his boneheadedness.

If there was any weak point in the first half hour -- and I'm digging deep here -- I'd say it was Gloria's storyline. I wish she had more to do than scream the entire episode. I still laughed, though, so it clearly wasn't that big of a deal. And her obliviousness to what was going on around her helped fuel the subplot about Jay hating the Creepy Cowboy who ran the dude ranch, so it still tied things together well.

In all, this highly anticipated Dude Ranch episode didn't disappoint. Alex's weekend romance with the mini Mario Brother ended in a Game Over (insert sad theme song here), Old Timer showed Creepy Cowboy who was boss for messing with Cactus Flower, Mitchell bonded with Luke in several cute scenes, Dylan was recruited by a hermaphrodite ranch owner after Claire shot down his proposal to Hayley (and decided to stay in Wyoming!), and after learning about Cam's enthusiasm for scrapbooking, I decided that I have a new favorite family member.

In the second episode, new baby Lily got a chance to shine with a plot that centered around her inability to share Mitchell and Cam's affection with others (namely babies). At first, Mitchell attributed this to Cam's coddling. (How great was that montage of Lily and Cam moments?) But we later learned -- again, via montage -- that Mitchell's problems with sharing contributed (if not more than Cam's coddling) to Lily's issues.

Meanwhile, at casa del Dunphy, Claire and Phil argued about the circumstances surrounding Claire's big, embarrassing spill at the supermarket, leading to an exploration of Claire's issues with constantly having to be right. And Alex and Hayley tried to sneakily get Luke to want to move into the attic so they didn't have to share a room anymore. (He eventually did move up there, but it didn't work out. Um, Claire was right.)

There was also a subplot about Manny stealing a locket from a girl at school (don't worry, it wasn't so he could wear it), but I thought it paled in comparison to the other things going on in the episode. I will admit, however, that like Gloria's plot in the first episode, it ended up being more important than I initially thought. After Jay got Manny to admit that Gloria hadn't made him confess to the principal, he had a big rant about being "right." Suddenly, Claire's problems made sense!

NEXT: The night's best lines!

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