Last night’s episode of Modern Family, “Not In My House,” brought to the fore how much we love our partners, despite their annoying foibles. These foibles sometimes bring interesting visitors into our homes, whether they be Satanic statues, gardeners with cold feet or buxom farmer’s daughters. Step away from the entrancing tumbling clothes in the dryer, and let’s recap “Not In My House.”
The episode opens with Phil on the phone with one of his best friends: Derek the pizza kid. His conversation is interrupted by Haley accusing Alex of reading her computer journal. Why would Alex do that? Perhaps because it “actually contains the details of a life!” Haley hissed. Claire, however, has discovered more objectionable computer use. It seems Luke was using Claire’s computer to look at porn; specifically, a picture of a topless woman with enormous breasts, straddling a tractor. There is no need for Phil’s explanation that the picture was sent to himby a coworker (not that he’s naming names…*cough, Gil Thorpe, cough*) — his look to the camera spoke volumes. Claire wants to pull Luke from a sleepover, but Phil insists he’ll take care of it. He doesn’t want Luke to be confronted about porn by his mother, it could give the boy an “unhealthy attitude toward sex…or agrobusiness.” Claire agrees, but if Phil fails, she’s just going to tell Luke, “whenever someone looks at porn, God kills a puppy.”
Gloria is having her own dog problems. Jay, after a successful night at the casino, purchased a human-size dog butler statue named Barkley (yes, it is a huge dog, standing on two legs, dressed as a butler, with a name) in the casino store. With it placed by the front door, it scares Gloria every time she comes in. Secretly, she knows that it is El Diablo. Jay can’t see what’s wrong with Barkley. He’s like a member of the family, and Jay has the pictures of Cameron posing with him to prove it. Gloria has had it with the dog butler, though, so she drags the statue upstairs.
Mitchell and Cameron are dealing with their own inanimate object issues. Mitchell wants to take Lily to one of his favorite places to go as a child, the Moscow Marionette Theater. Cameron explains that his idea of childhood fun was going to the largest water slide in Missouri (third largest in the country!). I mean, who wouldn’t like that? You feel like a torpedo! Anyway, Mitchell notices that the gardener is outside. That’s funny because it’s not his normal day to be there. Cameron doesn’t know why he’s there either: the gardener just shows up when he’s needed, “like Batman, but straight.” Then Cameron sees the gardener crying, and his Mother Theresa complex kicks in. Despite the fact that if they are late to the show the marionettes will flash their bloomers at them, Cameron has to bring the gardener in the house. As the gardener (not named Caesar Salad..azar) only speaks Spanish, Cameron flaunts his knowledge of the language by asking the gardener if he wants some water and a seat. Unfortunately, what he actually asks is whether the gardener wants to “make water” and lie down in their bed. The gardener, flattered by such hospitality, makes his way to Mitchell and Cameron’s bedroom.
Back at the Dunphy home, Phil can’t understand what the big deal is. In Europe, a topless woman on a tractor isn’t porn, it’s a cereal commercial. When Claire goes to talk to Luke, Phil again runs interference, explaining that boys are just drawn to breasts, like Frodo to Mordor. He will talk to Luke to avoid embarrassing him or Claire. Phil enters Luke’s room and tells Luke he has a serious computer question for him: “How do you make sure you deleted something after you’ve read it?” Alex, wondering what is happening in Luke’s room, asks her mom if Luke is being punished. “You know, lots of parents are hitting again,” she offers in encouragement to Claire. Alex believes her advice has been taken when she walks by Luke’s room, hears her brother and father playing “Red Hands,” and Luke yelping in pain. After he wins his game, Phil advises Claire that she should never bring up the subject with Luke again because he would be mortified. When Phil slyly suggests that he should be rewarded for his great parenting, Claire is incredulous that he would want sex after punishing their child for looking at porn. Phil can’t believe Claire’s suggestion. “I live in a house full of sex addicts! I just wanted pizza,” he insincerely replies.
Gloria comes home and, once again, is scared by Barkley’s presence in the doorway. Jay has brought him back downstairs, but messed up Barkley’s tux jacket in so doing. When Gloria helps, her bracelet accidentally snags the jacket and rips it. Seeing Jay is visibly shaken, Gloria wonders why he likes the dog butler. Unlike the mountain of pillows Gloria puts on the bed (I concur, Jay. My wife does the same thing. Those pillows are freaking superfluous!), Barkley is art! Gloria leaves with a sneaking suspicion that Jay may love his dog butler more than his wife.
Through their bedroom door, Cameron is trying to understand the gardener’s problem. As the gardener details his tale of woe in Spanish, Cameron translates for Mitchell, “something…house…something.” Mitchell is fed up — they should just ask Gloria to come over and handle the situation. Cameron is incapable of hearing a sad story and not getting involved. Mitchell is always second place. To prove that is not true, and despite Mitchell’s weary protests, Cameron insists they leave immediately for the marionette theater. When Cameron opens the door, a bride is standing in the doorway. Assuming (correctly) that she is there for the gardener, they point her to the bedroom. When they attempt to leave again, the door reveals the bride’s parents.
Mitchell goes over to Jay’s house to pick up Manny for the theater (btw, where was out favorite tween Casanova in this episode?!). Jay explains that Manny can’t make it because…well…it’s puppets, Mitch. That’s fine, Mitchell will just take “the little fortune cookie,” as Jay refers to his granddaughter, by herself. “Trouble in gay paradise?…How’s the old balls and chain?” Jay teases. Despite Jay always putting “gay” where it doesn’t belong, Mitchell explains that thanks to Cameron’s inability to turn away people, he has a “house full of Latinos.” “Welcome to my world,” Jay quips. While fixing Barkley’s broken hand, Jay explains that he and Mitchell are lucky guys. They have it good because they have partners they love and who love them. You want a partner who’s different than you because it challenges you and brings something different to your life, Jay explains while holding Barkley’s hand in place. “You mean Gloria, right?” Mitchell wonders when seeing his father’s hand lovingly in Barkley’s. “Who else?” Jay asks, ignorant of the picture he and Barkley make.
Alex wants to know why Haley drew on her autographed poster. It is retaliation for Alex reading Haley’s journal. Besides, what does it matter, it’s just some dude with weird hair. “It’s Maya Angelou,” Alex informs Haley. “Whatever, I don’t follow the WNBA,” Haley retorts. Hearing his sisters fight, Luke admits to Claire that he did something bad with the computer. Claire, happy that Luke is admitting to looking at the naked woman’s picture, engages him in why it is wrong to do so. Of course, the two are talking about different computer issues, culminating in Luke stating that parts were so freaky, but he couldn’t stop looking. Well, those parts were definitely fake, Claire told her son. “But they can be real, like Anne Frank’s, right?” Luke asks. It finally dawns on Claire that they might be talking about different things. Hearing Luke’s confession about reading Haley’s journal, the girls come downstairs and start screaming about the various privacy violations (aside here: How awesome are these kids at fighting? It’s a testament to both the child actors and the writers that they come off as real siblings, and without that “child actor” precociousness. Great work.). Claire says that she thought Luke had been looking at porn. Luke’s responds, “That’s gross. I’m ten. What’s wrong with you people?” Well, if Luke didn’t download the picture, who did? Phil, with impeccable timing, enters with his pizzas, “Mangia!”
Mitchell decides to return home and not go to the theater. As he gets out of the car and walks toward the front door, he explains to Cameron that Lily probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway. They can just put her in front of the dryer for a half hour. Cameron tries to prevent Mitchell from entering the house. When he finally does enter, Mitchell finds the gardener’s wedding in full swing in their living room. In a confessional (not a church one. A television one.), Cameron explains that he is just a truck full of compassion flying down the highway, and Mitchell is his off-ramp of safety gravel (how sweet!). Mitchell knows how to say no, put himself first and turn his back on the suffering (no, really Cam, keep going, Mitchell snarkily says), so they even each other out. So he can appease his wife, Jay brings over Barkley as a gift to his son and son-in-law. He carries Barkley over to the fireplace where the priest just married off the gardener, when Gloria enters. “Good news!” Jay shouts as he holds the hands of Barkley with the priest in between them. Gloria just turns around and walks out.
Phil apologizes to Claire for the naked picture (Damn Gil Thorpe!), explaining that Claire is “all the porn I need.” Claire slaps Phil upside the head, saying that there is no need to apologize. She tells us that with Haley off in her own world, and Alex never acting like a kid, she just wants Luke to stay a child as long as possible. Phil goes outside to apologize to Luke for blaming him for the picture. When Luke asks what the picture actually was, Phil explains that it was a woman on a tractor with her top off. “Was it hot?” Luke asks. Phil, a bit surprised by the question, forges ahead. He tells Luke that while the tractor isn’t necessarily his thing, the cowboy hat really added to…”You were asking about the weather, weren’t you?” Luke, embarrassed by his father once again, goes back inside the house, leaving Phil alone on the stoop with his (basket)balls.
In the show’s tag, Cameron voices Barkley as Mitchell prepare to take the dog butler to the pawn shop. With some absolutely hilarious dialogue, Barkley pleads Mitchell to allow him to stay at the house (“I have money. I’ve been stealing it from your father for weeks.”). Unfortunately, with the wind blowing through his ears, Barkley is taken away, and Cameron is in Mitchell’s dog house (Sorry for the pun. I couldn’t resist!).
Despite my complaint last week that the show is not as funny when the families are kept apart (as they were for most of this episode), I found “Not In My House” to be absolutely hysterical. The very real way in which these characters interact with each other is outstanding. This is a tribute to both the acting of the fantastic cast, and the witty dialogue created by the writers. Throw in some great directing (the edits of Gloria dragging Barkley upstairs; the perfect subtle framing of Jay in awkward positions with Barkley; the long shot of Cam trying to prevent Mitchell from entering the house, etc.) and you get the best new comedy of the season.
Please leave any comments, quotes or questions below. Also, take a look at the photos for next week’s episode, “Fifteen Percent.” Thanks for reading.