How Alex Dunphy Evolved On “Modern Family”

Modern family season 11

When we met 11-year-old Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter) on Modern Family, she was the poster child for parenting done right. Not that Phil and Claire had made an effort at raising Alex, they barely lifted a finger. To say that she parented herself and did a good job at it is an understatement. Through the seasons, we saw Alex grow, come out of her shell, and morph into a woman of her own who wasn’t scared to explore life. This is her rollercoaster of a journey:

Books Were Her Treasured Company

From the get-go, Alex Dunphy was obsessed with science. More than having a social life, Alex preferred to stay home and study. At one point, Claire was worried that her daughter wouldn’t have any friends in the future. Not once did she lose sleep over Alex having a bad grade. While Luke could barely finish his school projects on time, and Hailey had her mom making forty cupcakes the night before a fundraiser, Alex would boast about completing all her assignments on her own and on time.

Often Times, She Made Fun Of Her Siblings

Alex was the smartest of the Dunphy Children. Hailey (Sarah Hyland), the eldest, was simply Hailey 90% of the time, the party girl who preferred to sneak out, spend time with her boyfriend, and drink whenever she could. Luke was the goofy brother who hardly knew what was going on. Alex, being the smart one in the family, used her knowledge to terrorize her siblings. When she wasn’t asking Hailey to recharge a phone battery using her hair, she was referencing an eating disorder Hailey needed to attend to. To Luke, Alex was equally as mean, lying to the little boy that he was adopted, and he would get to meet his real parents.

Alex Had ‘Fans’ Who Were Equally Nerdy

Although she had a boring social presence, Alex had enough life in her to pull the nerds her way. One such time, she, alongside her uncle Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), and sister Hailey stumbled upon Luke (Nolan Gould) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) being bullied by a bunch of nerds over a helicopter. “Uncle Cam, I got this,” a confident Alex said, jumping out of the truck and heading for the kill. The boys couldn’t believe that Alex Dunphy was making her way towards them. They freaked out. Almost instantly, Alex told them to hand over Luke and Manny’s gadget. Hailey couldn’t believe how she’d pulled that off, given that she was dressed in sneakers, a t-shirt, and a pair of jeans. When Hailey asked what had just happened, Alex said,” You have your fans, I have mine. Someday, your fans are going to work for my fans.”

Claire Became Suspicious Of Alex’s Love Life

Claire was so protective of her girls and they knew it. In ‘The Kiss’, she needed to snoop on Alex, and Hailey was the perfect person to help. Although Hailey was not the smartest girl, she had a hunch that her mother was protective because she didn’t want her children to make the same mistakes she did. Hailey went on to learn that at 13, Alex liked a boy named Jeremy, and hadn’t had a first kiss yet. Like a true sibling, Hailey told Alex that she’s thought she was lesbian all along because she wore sandals that proved it. To prove to Hailey and Jeremy (Aaron Sanders) that she wasn’t lesbian, Alex walked over to his house and embarrassed herself.

 Friendship With Skylar Introduced Her To Goth

A ‘newer’ and more experimental version of Alex started to show when she began to hang out with Skylar (Emma Bateman). Alex had taken up Skylar’s gothic personality. She was dressing in black sets of clothes and went as far as trying to shave the back of her neck. It was unlike Alex to skip school. Skylar had become a bad influence. Lucky for Alex, her mother came to her rescue, accidentally cutting Skylar’s hair instead. At first, Alex was mad that her mum had destroyed her friendship, but later she was relieved because she would have to deal with Skylar anymore.

Her Grandfather Saw Her As The Family’s Next Leader

Jay (Ed O’Neil) was in many ways the glue that held the Dunphy family together. He may have had his reservations about Cam, but he eventually warmed up to him since he was the only person who was into sports in the way that Jay was. While he was snobbish towards Phil (Ty Burrell) and didn’t think he was good enough for Claire, he learned to love him all the same, and his whole family too. In “Grill Interrupted” Jay implied the person fit enough to be the family’s next leader would be Alex. Alex was worried that she would be the least intelligent person at Caltech, where she’d been accepted. She thought alcohol would calm her nerves, but, with the help of Jay, realized she’d be wasting her life away.

Alex’s Love Life Started To Take Shape

When flowers started to show up at the Dunphy household, everyone thought they were Hailey’s. She herself suggested the flowers were from Victor, an ex-con. Luke thought the flowers were from a guy who was obsessed with Hailey. While everyone else was overlooking her, Alex dropped the bombshell: She had a boyfriend. Apparently, she was dating a model who just happened to be on a paper she was holding. Hailey and Claire were convinced that she was making things up. She wasn’t.

Soon Enough, She Couldn’t Stop Talking About Her Boyfriend

For someone who had trouble with boys, Alex had begun loosening up. She dated Sanjay Patel (Suraj Partha), with whom she was co-valedictorian. Alex had a relationship with Ben (Joe Mande), who worked for her mother. It was Alex’s relationship with Bill (Jimmy Tatro), a firefighter who had come to her rescue, that really broke her out of her shell. Out of the blue, Alex was bragging about the amazing sex she was having, and her dad, Phil, was there to hear every bit of her flexes.

She Had To Transition From School To The Real World

All her life, Alex had been a high achiever. Her grades were excellent, and her parents didn’t need to worry about her. In addition to being academically gifted, she was part of the debating and French club. She’d played the cello before, but couldn’t quit because she wasn’t a quitter. At graduation, Alex was worried that life as she had known it would come to an end. Hailey talked her out of the slump and was proven right when Alex landed a corporate job, and finally chose to move to Switzerland.

And Found A More Flattering Wardrobe While At It

By the time we got to the final season of Modern Family, Alex Dunphy had come full circle. She wasn’t dealing with any baggy jeans or t-shirts at all. Though Alex still wore her hair the same, her outfits were more flattering of her body. She wasn’t a shy girl trying to hide under layers of clothes. In ‘The Last Christmas’, she was seen wearing a flattering white top that was tucked into a pair of blue jeans. Alex had become a shadow of the young girl she used to be, and everything about her screamed ‘grown’. So grown she was, that she was ready to live away from her family.



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