This past Sunday, ABC hosted the Academy Awards, but this past Wednesday, there was a much more important and amusing awards ceremony during Modern Family: the SCARB (Southern California Annual Realtor’s Banquet). As host, Phil gives a performance worthy of Oscar night. It was a fancy episode all around, with the other characters dressed their best as they attend the high school dance.
In “Spring-a-Ding-Fling,” it’s a big night for all the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tuckers: Phil is hosting the realtor’s gala, Mitch is starting a new job at a legal aid society, and Cam has organized the spring high school dance. As high-schoolers, Alex and Luke will be attending the soirée with their respective dates. Phil invites Hayley to the realtor’s gala with him, where he has an incredible song and dance show prepared, filled with costume changes (including cross-dressing as a new divorcée) and a full set of props. During the show, though, he’s upset because Hayley isn’t paying attention. But when he wins the ROY award (Realtor of the Year), she also gives him the symbolic DOY award (Dad of the Year). On the other side of town, at the school dance, Claire is chaperoning, and of course tries to interfere with her kids’ dates. And while Cam thought he was going to be the star of the show at the dance he planned, the spotlight is stolen by the return of the Spanish teacher, Señor Kaplan, who had been on sabbatical. Señor Kaplan is basically Cam’s doppelgänger, and they vie for the spotlight. (Cam wins.) In a more serious setting, Mitch is at his new dream job, where he works for his law school buddy. But Mitch misunderstands various situations and erroneously thinks his new boss is some sort of monster. The line is drawn when she asks him to groom Rex. She’s referring to the human intern, but he thinks she means her stinky dog. Once he grooms the dog, he decides to rebel, only to embarrass himself. (What’s new?)
There are many wonderful moments in this episode. Cam’s dance-off with Señor Kaplan, Claire pimping out Alex to her nerd date, Mitch blasting his boss only to realize she’s actually really nice. But the best scene, what really takes the cake, is Phil’s, “I’m Selling Away” performance, sung to the tune of “I’m Sailing Away.” Where do I even begin to praise this moment? It was blissful hilarity. I’ve polled my friends recently as to whom is their favorite Modern Family character, and the response overwhelmingly leans Phil. I myself am a Cam-fan, with Phil coming in a close second. But last night, Phil definitely won not only the ROY and the DOY, but the PON (Performer of the Night) award. Sorry Cam, this week, Señor Kaplan wasn’t your only rival for the spotlight.
One question, however: where was Manny? He wasn’t at the dance, and he wasn’t with his parents. Maybe I missed something, or maybe the writers are realizing they have written themselves into a hole with poor Manuel.
Some killer lines from the episode:
—Coach Tucker, AKA Cam, responding to a compliment on his shirt: “You know what I like to say, I might be coach, but I travel first class.”
—Cam, referring to Señor Kaplan: “Hey, Señor, you just got out-couched.”
—Phil, still dressed as a woman after his performance, tells Hayley: “We’re leaving, could you go to the table and just grab my keys and purse.”
—Phil, responding to Claire not being able to attend the realtor banquet: “It’s for the best. She’s invisible at these things. It’s tough being married to the rock star.”
—Señor Kaplan, upon his return from sabbatical, announces: “Excuse me, is this a chem lab? Because I’m looking for a big reaction.”
Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter.