Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Modern Family

Go To

"And that, my dear Claire, is a real head-scratcher—TM."

Phil Dunphy

New entries on the bottom.

    open/close all folders 

    Watching the show 

  • Do the Family never watch their own TV show? They all constantly confess to things they don't want other family members to know, or get filmed doing incriminating things (e.g., Phil keeping Claire locked in the bathroom after an earthquake so he has time to bolt a cabinet to the wall like he said he already had). Surely these secrets are going to get found out pretty quickly. Also, they regularly make mean comments about/lie to other friends and family. Surely if you know your friends are on a TV show, you'd make an effort to watch it?
    • I always assumed it was a documentary — so a film, or a recorded study that wouldn't be televised.
    • On a broader level, it's just a hold over when the show was intended to be a Mockumentary. The Confession Cam shots are almost like their inner thoughts and imaginings made quasi-real in the same sense that the song numbers in Glee are both real and imagined.
    • During a few episodes, the different angles of the same scene reveal that there actually aren't any cameras with them. (For instance, when Mitchell tries to chase a pigeon out of his house, the angle of the shot rapidly switches from in front of him to behind him. If there were any cameras with him, we would have seen them.)
    • Or when Phil falls from a motorcycle and thinks he is going to die because he is "alone."
    • That same episode involved Phil ordering delivery somehow, despite not having any cell signal. He was just being a drama queen.


    Last Name 

  • Mitchell deliberately left Cameron's last name off of Lily's birth record, instead of giving her a hyphenated name as they'd discussed. His explanation was that he was afraid that Cameron might leave him and Lily after deciding that he couldn't handle parenthood — his name would only serve to remind Mitchell of Cameron's abandonment. This doesn't make any sense. If Cameron had walked out on Mitchell while Lily was a baby, Mitchell could have had Lily's name changed.
    • It's difficult to change a legal name, so he would have to face that loss through the whole legal ordeal. Plus, if Lily was older (like, in school/aware of her name) it can be confusing and awkward for the child to do so (hence why a lot of kids have different last names than their divorced parent, even if they only live with that parent).

    Jay meeting Gloria 

  • Jay reveals that he met Gloria when she and her sister were in a bar together. Except that sister has been spending the whole episode acting like she's never left her village in Colombia and has no concept of what America is like.
    • Maybe the bar was in Colombia.
    • There's an alternative explanation — her sister was deliberately pretending not to comprehend their wealth in order to guilt Gloria and the others. Their mother is shown to be quite manipulative when it comes to wealth and the family being together and it's possible her daughter picked up on it. She knows what a laundromat or a washing machine is, but she asks where the river is and pretends to think Gloria somehow has all the nice clothes of the entire town to guilt Gloria and Jay into letting them stay there or fronting them money.
    • This is very likely, especially because despite what some people may think, no matter how poor a Colombian village is, they do have laundromats or washing machines. The question here is why Gloria falls for it.


  • How does Claire hide being a gun owner from Phil? For starters, where does she store a handgun, ammunition, and related supplies (gun oil, hearing protection, gun cleaning tools) in a house with children in it, without Phil knowing about it? Does she have a safe Phil doesn't know the combination of? Secondly, she's stated to go to the range very frequently - she goes to "yoga" once a week, which is a cover for going shooting. She's there so frequently, everyone in the place knows her by sight and first name. But ammunition is expensive; a trip to the range for one hour can cost hundreds of dollars between the range fees and the ammunition, especially in California. How does Claire hide a hundreds of dollars expense per week from the house budget, especially since she doesn't actually have a job until several seasons later?
    • Some gun ranges will actually allow you to store your gun(s) on-site. If there's a gun store attached they may also rent out guns for the day. No idea how she's hiding the expense, though.

    Alex's gay boyfriend 

  • Was the boyfriend that Alex had that everyone that was gay even gay? I don't think it was ever really stated. Everyone assumed it because of the way he acted and he seemed upset when she accused him. Did I miss something? Was this ever expanded on?
    • I second this. It seems like there was supposed to be some sort of an Aesop to this, but it went over my head.

    The Step 
  • Exactly what is wrong with that one step that Phil keeps saying he'll fix? Why do people keep tripping on it? Is there just a big gaping hole in the middle of the staircase?
    • It's probably a loose floorboard that slips or wobbles when stepped on, but looks normal the rest of the time so is easily forgotten about. It seems to have been fixed by later seasons, anyway.

    Wrong Party 

  • In one episode Gloria is fed up with Jay not knowing about his workers, so she convinces him to go to a birthday party. But they accidentally go to an engagement party next door. When Gloria finds out, all she can say Jay, who is busy fraternizing with people he doesn't actually know, is that he doesn't know them. Why didn't she just tell Jay that they are at the wrong party?
    • Maybe she didn't want to make things more awkward.
    • She was about to, but as she approached him, Jay put his lie into motion and...was kinda being a jerk out it. So Gloria wanted him to work himself into a corner and admit the lie.

    Why Stay in a Motel? 
  • In "Marco Polo," the Dunphys check into a motel while their house is being treated for mold. Phil has the idea that if the family stays together, they'll bond as a family. He then lies and says the hotel is fully booked, which is how all five Dunphys end up crowded in one hotel room. Claire subsequently learns that the motel is in fact half-empty. There would be clues long before that—for instance, a half-empty parking lot or the absence of other guests. And if it were truly full, wouldn't someone suggest another hotel? Also, if they want a family bonding experience, there are family members living nearby they can stay with. Mitch and Cam have an apartment upstairs. They can put the Dunphys up there.


  • In the Season 1 episode "Undeck the Halls," after seeing a burn mark on the couch Phil and Claire immediately assume one of the kids was smoking. Why? Plenty of things other than cigarettes make burn marks. And the house has had plenty of visitors, so even if it was someone smoking, why would it automatically have to be one of the kids?
    • Rule of Funny. If that isn't sufficient, then just remember the Dunphys have a habit of freaking out over things that end up being mundane. It's one of the show's main Running Gags.

    Phil snubbing Claire 

  • In the Season 1 finale, Claire calls Phil while he's at a basketball game with Gloria, while seeing him in the background on the TV. Phil sees who is calling and declines the call, leading to part of the episode's drama. But Phil was at a basketball game. In the middle of the stands. Isn't there a perfectly good and obvious reason he wouldn't take a phone call in a stadium where it is far too noisy to carry on a phone conversation?


  • Noticed in the middle of re-watching: In the pilot Lily is just being adopted as an infant, Jay and Gloria are recently married, Haley is 15, and Luke and Manny are 11. In season 4 Lily is 5 years old and Gloria mentions having been with Jay for 5 years, which adds up, but Luke and Manny are 14 years old and Haley is "newly legal" (18)? This would make Haley 13 and the boys 9 at the beginning of the series which supposedly was five years ago. Why does it seem like the children, minus Lily, age slower than they should? If time passed properly the boys should be 16 and Haley 20 in season 4.
    • In the pilot, both the boys were 10, Lily was at least six months (as discussed in a later episode that season) and Haley was 15. Haley is born in 1994, and thus turns 16 in 2010, as she gets her drivers license. In 2013, when Joe is born, Haley is 19, still considered “newly legal.” Both Manny and Luke are born in late 1998/early 1999, making them 10 in the pilot, then 11 throughout season 1. Then, by season 4, they both turn 14.


    Water to Wine 

So... did Water to Wine know that Cam and Mitch are gay? Only they were perfectly pleasant to them and even had Mitch join them onstage for their song, and were happy to have Cam as their replacement drummer for the gig.


Example of: