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'Modern Family' recap: Happy Turkey Day!

Season 6 | Episode 8 | “Three Turkeys” | Aired Nov 19, 2014

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the holiday than spending time with family? Modern Family, that is! Oh, you can wait one more week for your own feast.

Usually the Dunphy, Pritchett, and Tucker clan gathers for their big family dinner on Thanksgiving. Jay and Gloria have other plans this year. They dump Manny at Phil and Claire’s house and stage a video of themselves “from Colombia where they are visiting Gloria’s family” in order to escape the usual holiday chaos. Obviously, this backfires on them, but we will get to that.

Lily is acting out (shocking since kids usually don’t do that, right?) and is giving Mitch a great deal of backlash for playing the strict parent as opposed to Cam’s Danny Tanner-esque manner. Cam enables Lily and gives her anything that she demands. Mitch corrects Lily (as an actual parent should) and tries to make her understand that she should listen to what he and Cam says. Naturally, Lily paints portraits of her fathers, depicting Mitch as the Devil.

While her parents try to persuade Lily to dress appropriately for Thanksgiving dinner, she protests by throwing her dress over her street clothing and angrily heads to the car. Almost instantly the car horn beeps, signaling her shocked (and embarrassed) parents to come out. I think we all know who wears the pants in the Pritchett-Tucker household.

Phil is tasked with making the Thanksgiving dinner this year, which HAS to mean that Claire has a trick up her sleeve, right? She is secretly basting a plan-B turkey in the garage. Alex catches her nursing the turkey in her very own baby crib. Mini-Claire goes along with her mother’s plan and awaits Phil’s failure.

However, Phil is determined to do this right, going as far as listening to (incredibly sexual sounding) audio instructions for preparing the perfect turkey. This audio should be heard by everyone cooking a turkey. It will really make you feel like a dirty birdie—Annie Wilkes-style. Anyway, Phil struggles, but nothing appears capable of crushing his determination … until he catches Claire and Alex going through some old, fun memories in the garage. This leads to an ill-timed power outage and a fantastically screaming Phil.

Jay and Gloria, relaxing at home with baby Fulgencio, are very happy and making a turkey of their own. They don’t have to deal with any family stress. Jay doesn’t have to worry about losing any his amazing, aged Scotch to Phil, who likes to mix it with soda. This Thanksgiving is exactly what they planned. Wait a minute … Here comes the rest of the family, forced to relocate due to the Dunphy power outage!

While Jay and Gloria hide in their bedroom, their small turkey is cooking one oven below Phil’s heavily (and erotically) basted turkey. Claire and Alex plot how to bring their rescue turkey into the house after Phil’s inevitable failure. Mitch and Cam decide to try on two of Gloria’s dresses in a desperate attempt to make Lily feel uncomfortable enough to end her protest. Typical parenting maneuvers.

When one lies to family and then gets caught, things don’t tend to end well for the liar. There is really only one thing for Jay and Gloria to do: Pretend like they came home early specifically to be with the rest of the family. They are almost too awesome.

The gang is all-too-excited to have them home. Jay makes a break for baby Joe, who was forgotten upstairs when he and Gloria snuck around to the front of the house with empty suitcases. Meanwhile, Gloria shoves the wrong turkey into her suitcase to cover up the last bit of their lie’s evidence. Most of the time, Jay and Gloria really appear to be the best couple on the show. There is no denying how well they work together in scandalous situations.

Thanksgiving breaks all at once thanks to three little turkeys. Phil pulls out the small turkey, unknowingly and painfully lamenting his failure. Alex smuggles Claire’s turkey into the house via Lily’s backpack, which Cam (finally) commands Lily to take to their car. When Lily falls over, Cam discovers the turkey and Claire is busted by Phil. Then, Gloria’s suitcase is opened and Phil’s actual turkey is identified. Chaos ensues.

“Three Turkeys” is a strong representation of most family get-togethers (while slightly exaggerated, of course). It really plays as a personal commentary more than most Modern Family episodes do. It amazes me how much I reminisce about the wonderful and wacky holidays I’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate with family. Haley calms the storm by announcing how important it is to her that they celebrate Thanksgiving together. No matter how crazy family can be, they are still family—for better or worse.

Episode rating: Four and a half(-eaten) turkeys out of five.

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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