Modern Family Wiki


Modern Family Wiki
Modern Family Wiki

"Coal Digger" is the fifth episode from Season 1 of Modern Family, it aired on October 21, 2009.

Plot Summary

The whole family is invited to Jay and Gloria's for some barbecue and football. However, an earlier incident at school between Manny and Luke makes things very awkward for Gloria and Claire, and then things escalate when a not-so-flattering label is uttered.

Episode Description

We open with Jay, Gloria and Manny at the Pritchett household Jay tells Manny to get ready for school and tells Gloria that she can get together with the girls if she wants and he'll watch the football game. Manny then interrupts to tell Gloria that Jay means he wants to watch a football game and Jay tells him that he isn't talking to him implying that he doesn't need to tell her what he means. Jay then notices that Manny is drinking coffee and Manny tells Jay that's it's a coloumbian thing the camera switches to Gloria who is smiling when Manny says 'coloumbian thing'. Jay then asks what part of Colombia are the french toaster sticks from before Manny can answer (with nothing)  Gloria tells Jay that their whole family is coming over for the barbeque. Seemingly Jay forgets it's today that the barbeque happens asking 'it's today 'to which


Manny replies with 'Si' in Spanish  Jay tells Gloria that it's the Ohio State game and Gloria says that everybody can watch while Jay says he doesn't like to watch with people who don't watch the game because they talk through Manny then tells Jay he talks through his football game to which Jay tells him it's soccer and his team has only scored two goals the entire season Jay then says he isn't taking a big risk as he walks over to the coffee machine and sees that Manny has drunk a lot of coffee and evidently asks Manny how much he's drunk to which Manny replies "Gimmie a break I have to climb a rope today" which implies that in Gym Manny will be climbing rope (See Cultural Refrences).

We are now with the Dunphys' in their household, Haley asks to borrow some money but lies about the reason behind it saying she needs to buy a book which Claire seemingly sees right through and asks what book knowing Haley probably can't answer as she isn't Alex who is the smarter one. Claire tells Haley she's a bad liar and Alex says she's more worried that she can't name a single book. Phil walks into the kitchen and shouts to Luke that they are already late for school. Luke appears and Claire says that having his shirt on inside out is a first for him , she then goes to say that he hasn't got his shirt caught in his pants zipper but looks down to realise that he has. Claire and Phil are the first to be "interviewed" in which Phil says that there is 'street smart' and 'book smart' and Claire says 'and then there's Luke' whilst laughing. Phil making her stop says 'Luke's just curious he's got this almost scientific mind with a thirst for knowledge he's like this little Einstein (See Cultural Refrences) some people ask 'why?', Luke asks 'why not'. Whilst Phil is talking clips of Luke being 'stupid' are shown. Claire tells us and Phil that she asks 'Why?!' alot. It is implied with humor that she has to ask why quite a lot as Luke does a lot of weird stuff.

Cam and Lily.jpg

We are back with Cam and Mitch at their household, Cam is celebrating the Ohio State Game with Lily as Mitch isn't interested. Mitch asks if they have to go to his Dads' and Cam tells him that it's the Ohio State Game. Mitch and Cam are "interviewed" and Cam says "I collect antique fountain pens. I'm quite adept at Japanese flower arrangement 'Ikebana' (See Cultural Refrences) and I was a starting offensive lineman at the University of Illinois." we go back to Mitch and Cam with Lily, where Mitch complains that he doesn't like football, Cam states that being a part of a relationship means faking liking each others' interests. Cam then states an example where he faked liking something Mitchell liked: 'Home Pickle Making'. Cam tells Mitch to stay at home if he really wants to and then gives another example of where he faking liking something Mitchell liked: 'Scrapbooking', and Mitchell says that Cam loved scrapbooking and Cam double questions him which Mitch hates, so then Cam does it again when he is gone, poking Lily out the door and acting as if Lily is saying it, which Mitch plays along with.


We are with Claire in the Dunphy house who is on the phone to the school, and then Phil, Phil answers asking 'what's up' Claire tells Phil that the school wants them to come down as Luke got into a fight. Phil lies to Claire about where they are but when Claire asks what house, he can't come up with an answer and tell her the truth: he is golfing.

Walgrove Elementary School.jpg
The Dunphys and Pritchetts explain their relations to the Principal.jpg

We then see Claire and Phil in the school halls of Manny and Lukes' school, 'Walgrove Elementary School' where Claire and Phil have dialogue a bit of dialogue in which they discuss who could be in there with Luke. Claire and Phil get to the Principal's Office and to their surprise it's Manny. It seems that there were name callings and by the time the teacher broke them up, Luke was sitting on Mannys' chest. The principal then realises that everyone is related somehow but doesn't know it's by marriage. He tells them that they should work it out at home since they are related and dismisses the boys back to class, leaving awkward air between Gloria and Claire when they both agree that 'one kid is a little different' they both give each other looks knowingly offending each other and each others' kids.

Phil driving Claire.jpg

We cut to driving scenes, with Gloria and Claire arguing about eachother at the same time, Phil is Claire's driver and Jay is Gloria's. Jay and Phil have to keep both of their families in check prior to he incident. Phil without relaising it could get him intro trouble with Claire say sthat he doesn't like it when 'his girls' fight subsequently making Claire ask 'how exactly is she your girl?'

We are back with Cam and Mitch, Cam tells Mitch he has a few things in preparation for the party, and asks if Lily is ready to leave the house. Mitchell, in the kitchen, replies that she's ready but Cam seemingly notices he has a dull tone to the reply and asks what's wrong, to which Mitchell says that's he's worried about CJ. Hightower, and how he is in the Ohio State Game with a broken ankle, showing that he has looked it up on line and is going to committ to what Cam said earlier: faking liking things for your other half, although he isn't faking and is ready to like what Cam likes. Cam then says it's very mature of him, but Mitchell breaks his matureness when he says it seems easy to learn football; 'if football fans can learn it how hard can it be?' Cam then says that is very elitist of him. Mitchell follows Cam into the living room and Cam asks if he is straight: commenting on the colouring of his face, he has one half not painted and the other half painted in blue. Mitch says that he's not sure what he is right now. This is seemingly another okay-gay-joke by the writer of Modern Family.

Jay- Phil and Claire arriving.jpg

We come back to the Pritchett household where, Jay opens the door in an excited-to-see-you way to his family members: Luke, Alex, Phil and then Claire. Claire guesses that the game is on and Phil affirms that the game is on. Phil walks up to Gloria and evidently tries to make amends saying 'nice to see you again' which was probably at least two hours ago. Gloria notices and says 'two times today' which Phil mistakes in her accent for her saying something along the lines of 'give me a hug', Claire tells him what she said just before he goes to hug her (leaving humor between the lines). Phil tries to mend the relationship between his son and his two-step-half-brother, Manny. But when Phil gets soppy and awkward and gets into 'feelings' the word Jay prety much hates, Jay takes over and succeeds managing to get them to forgive each other. We are now with Gloria and Claire; who has just walked into the kitchen, Claire says that she made dessert, Gloria thanks her and says she made pie, resulting in more awkward air, Phil breaks the silence by trying again to repair everything, this time Claire stops him saying 'Phil, no.' but Gloria asks why 'Phil, no', 'What is Phil doing?' Phil then says there's tension bewteen them; evidently. And Claire says she's going to kill him for saying that. Gloria sticks to Phils said, and says she thinks they should talk about why Claire may hate her. Phil then says, 'that's what I'm talking 'bout, you two talking; doubt it.'


We are back in the living room and Alex tells Grandpa Jay that it's weird that Haley doesn't like football or watching it as it contains boys and there's no reading. She then goes onto say what Haley does as Jay brings up his hands to cover her eyes and mouth subsquently asking her to shut up. Cam and Mitch walk into the living room, and Jay makes a remark, which Mitch thinks is offensive, Cam corrects him saying that it's a player in the game: Dick Buttkiss (See Cultural Refrences), Mitch asks if everyones' okay with that, but stops before fully asking. Mitch apologises to Jay saying he thought he was being homophobic to which Jay responds 'we got all night'. Mitch then replies with a 'yes, we do' under his breath. Cam then says that Mitch has been studying for the game. Mitch then says he's worried about Hightower and who's replacing him. Jay says that Billings definitely won't be, Cam tells Mitch Billings' is in jail. Cam, Jay, Alex and Mitch then start to celebrate things that happen in the game.

Claire and Gloria talk; Phil plays Therapist.jpg

We are back in the kitchen with Gloria, Claire and Phil, Phil tries to play therapist with Claire and Gloria, which simultaneously is unsuccessful for Claire and successful for Gloria and in the end successful for all of them: Claire and Gloria sort out their differences: Gloria says she sometimes feels like Claire doesn't like her. Phil asks how she feels about it and Claire seemingly get angry at Phil for trying to play therapist and responds with 'right now, I'm feeling a lot of anger' Phil then says 'No, don't tell me, tell her' not knowing she means with him and makes it evident when saying it to Gloria 'Gloria, right now, I'm really angry at Phil.' Phil realises and says 'let's respect the process', Claire asks Gloria why she thinks she doesn't like her and Gloria says that she makes a face when Claire is around her and imitates the face, Claire says she doesn't do that, Mitch walks in overhearing and says 'that is so Claire!' and Phil agrees, 'she does that with everyone, it's just her face' sparking more anger with Claire. However Gloria disagrees, Gloria says that from the beginning she feels like she and Manny have always been excluded from Claire as being part of the family, but Claire tells her that it's crazy to feel that way, Gloria disagrees again saying that's just how she feels; Mitchell awkwardly exits the room over-

Claire and Gloria hug and exclude Phil.jpg

hearing them talk. Claire apologises that she feels that way and tells her that she feels like this, because from the moemtn she met her she tried to make her feel very welcome. Gloria asks if she thinks it's all in her head, undecided whether or not telling her it is and sounding rude, she stutters to tell her that she really loves having Manny and her in her family, Phil says that he feels a hug coming on, but the women decide that it isn't with him but with each other, excluding Phil when he goes in for a hug.

Luke lets slip that Claire thinks Gloria is a 'coal digger'.jpg

We then see each two members of the family; including Gloria and Claire, who had breif feuds earlier in the show patch things up: Mitchell and Jay, after Jay tells Mitchell to get out of the room following him not knowing about football except from the little he looked up on the internet, then Manny and Luke after Luke tells Manny not to call him his nephew although he is, Luke just isn't used to it and doesn't want to have someone his age be his Uncle. Luke and Manny then patch it up whilst playing games: they come doan and say what they made fun of each other for, however things take a sour turn for Gloria and Claire as Luke reveals that he heard from his mother, Claire that Gloria is a 'coal digger', Phil corrects Luke and Alex saying 'coal digger' to 'gold digger' (which is a derogatory term for women who are only after a mans' money; (See Cultural Refrences)) Gloria being offended again, asks Claire 'So it's all in my head huh?' Which sparks the same arguement between Gloria and Claire.

Claire is interviewed about calling Gloria a gold digger.jpg

Claire gets "interviewed": "If I say something that everybody else is thinking, does that make me a mean person? Or does it make me a brave person? One who is courageous enough to stand up and-and say something behind someone's back to a 10-year-old."

We come back into the kitchen where Jay, Mitchell, Claire and Phil are, Jay says his wife is pissed and Claire says Gloria won't come out of her room, Jay asks whether he really had to call her that. Claire states that it was a year ago and a natural quesion to ask when she is a beautiful hot woman and Jay isn't- and this is where Claire stops when she doesn't want to offend her Dad,

Claire, Phil and Jay.jpg

Jays' curiousity asks 'what?' Claire asks for help from her brother, Mitchell, he seemingly will of course decline. Jay says this is exactly why the family should sweep things under the rug; so people don't get hurt. Phil tells them that then too much gets under thew rug and creates a lumpy rug with a tripping hazard (which is a very good metaphor for the situation) and then they would have to get a law suit- and this is where Phil stops, when he realises that Jay, when serious, bored and confused simultaneously, can go a really long time without blinking.

Gloria throws her colourful underwear at Phil.jpg

It's still nighttime when the camera pulls in on the Pritchett Households' Gloria's bedroom. We then see Phil try to talk to Gloria, in an "interview" with Phil before he walks into Gloria's bedroom, he says that Claire says you can be part of the problem or part of the solution, but he believes that he can be both, we come back to Phil who tells Gloria, Claire feel horrible and Gloria should try to talk to her. Gloria says she knws how Claire feels about her she knows Claire thinks that she is a 'coal digger' Phil stupidly tries to correct her to 'gold digger' but Gloria tells Phil she knows the word, Phil tells Gloria that Claire did call her that but it was a long time ago and she doesn't feel the same way evidently getting to know her. Gloria starts to throw her underwear at Phil saying that Jay does buy her nice things but she can live without them, Phil being distracted by the colourful underwear: "Gloria we all know you'd be fine without underwear- I mean we know it's not about that" Gloria affirms that it's about her not being accepted by Claire into her family, Phil tells her that she is beautiful and she maybe one of those beautiful women who don't know it, although Gloria dismisses this, Phil then says it's natural for his wife, to wonder about what Gloria wants from her Dad. Phil says that the Pritchett family is very protective of their own family, and that keep a very close eye on the people who come and marry into their family, Phil makes Claire bringing home himself for Jay to inspect him, saying Jay thought that Phil wasn't good enough, but by then Mitchell brough Cameron home, so in Jay took hie eyes off Phil, leaving him 'golden to date/marry Claire'. Phil tells Gloria that Claire needs to finish inspecting her and she'll be 'the most loyal friend' she's ever had.

Jay talks to Mitch and Cam.jpg

We come back to; the only people left in the kitchen: Mitch, Cam and Jay. Jay asks Mitchell; being gay, which slightly both offends and makes Cam and Mitch feel awkward, why his sister, Claire, said that Gloria would never go for anybody that looked like him, however Jay dos not say it in those words,: "So if I was in one of your bars and 'Righteous Brothers' (See Cultural Refrences) were on, you know would you, uh, I don't know, check me out?" Mitchell tells Jay that he is now ruining being gay for him, Jay walks out in offense, Cameron stops him and tells him that it's weird for a son to say it to his father, so, he will: "For the record I think you're smokin' hot, yeah 100%" "You're totally my type, you're dangerous, you're getable, you have a little "cashola" in your pocket", Mitchell starts to feel even more awkward and awkward as Cameron gives him a number on a scale of 1-10 giving him a '9' when Jay thinks he is a '7', evidently understandably weird for Mitchell to hear. So he walks out the room.

We are back upstairs with Claire knocking on Gloria's bedroom door, Claire asks to talk about what happened and when Gloria is hesitant, Phil states he's seen her kick in a door before, Gloria walks up to the door and accepts Claire's talk with her. Claire admits she doesn't know what Phil is saying to her, and notices Glorias' underwear surrounded by him, or why he is covered in her underwear. To which Gloria makes a sarcastic remark saying that she is trying to seduce him for his money. Gloria then asks what she

Gloria asks Phil and Claire what to throw away so that Claire wil trust her.jpg

has to do to get Claire to trust her, Gloria starts to take off pieces of jewlrey asking if she should get rid of them since they are things Jay has bought for her, as a series of 'no's' come out of Phil and Claire accept for the last one which Phil doesn't answer: Should I take off this dress?, and Claire gives him a look for him not answering, Phil then makes up a lie, that could be viewed as the truth by Gloria, however it's soemthing that Claire could see right thoguh, but lets him off: "I didn't answer because this shouldn't be about me, it should be about you, talking to you about it" as Phil walks out of the room, Claire wants to tell him something: he has Gloria's underwear stuck to his pants, even though he doesn't know what she's going to say but probably not wanting to get into anything more, he declines as a 'No, you're welcome.'. Claire once again tells Gloria she is really sorry, Gloria asks what she really feels that she is with her father. Claire tells Gloria that "honestly it was hard, you don't expect to wake

Claire tells Gloria how she realy feels about her being with Jay.jpg

up one morning with a new Mom who looks like she fel off a mud flap- but, I'm getting used to it, and the important thing is you make him happy, which you do, in so many ways, (looks at underwear on the floor) sooo many colors... are we okay?" after this Gloria tells her no. Claire emabrassed her infront of everyone downstairs, and Claire is asking her to forget about it, Claire asks if she wants her to embarass herself so they're even, the conversation takes a turn when Gloria asks Claire to jump in the swimming pool with her clothes on in the backyard, although it's cold and nighttime

Claire tells everyone Gloria wants her to jump in the swimming pool.jpg

We come back to the boys: Jay, Mitch and Cam all shouting about the game, when Gloria and Claire come down and Jay asks if they've solved everything, Claire says "Almost, Gloria just wants me to jump in the pool", Jay ignore her but everyone else just follows Gloria and Claire, Jay soon sees this and follows everyone else.

Claire jumps in the pool for Glorias' forgiveness.jpg

We get to the back yard and Claire asks if Gloria really wants her to actually jump in the pool, Gloria affirms and won't forgive her unless she actually does get wet and jump in the pool properly, which Claire does, Gloria forgives her and they all including Claire start to laugh, Jay then pushes Phil into the pool, and then Manny and Luke drag Phil into the pool, Mitchell then jumps in with his niece, Alex, in his arms, Cameron then jumps in whilst screaming 'CANNONBALL!', the only person who is not pushed or has jumped in themselves is Haley.

Cam and Jay bond in an inappropriate football position.jpg

The ending scene is Cam and Jay enjoying the game together, in the background Claire and Mitch are drying themselves, Claire says it's weird to think about a woman being sexually attracted to Dad, Mitch then tops her saying that it weird that Cam said that he would pick Dad up at a gay bar, Claire asks how it was brought up and Mitch says he's trying to block it out, Claire and Mitch agree that their Mom and Dad had sex twice; to produce Mitch and Claire. Jay and Cam then get into a football position, but Mitch more than Claire finds it seriously inappropriate, weird and awkward again.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker

Guest Starring


  • Haley is the only one who doesn't jump or is being pushed at Jay and Gloria's pool at the end of the episode.
  • Seemingly Haley carries Phils' gene of not being good at lying as Haley lies about the reason why she wants money but is caught lying in the moment and Phil lies about selling a house and is caught lying in the moment also. (Claire catches them both in their lies)
  • The Ohio State-Illinois football game shown in this episode was actually played on November 11, 2000; Ohio State, ranked 13th in the country, defeated Illinois, 24-21.
  • The clips of the football game are shown out of order: when Mitchell briefly tries to watch football, Illinois scores a touchdown to take a 21-18 lead; the botched snap at the end of the episode (which prompts Cameron to demonstrate his snapping skills to Jay during the closing credits) occurs earlier in the game when the score is 7-3 Illinois.
  • There are no recurring characters in this episode.


  • This episode aired exactly six years before The Verdict


(None in this episode)

Cultural References

  • Phil refers to Luke as "little Einstein".
  • Cam dressed Lily as a referee due to the football game but when Mitchell sees her he asks why she looks like the Hamburglar.
  • One of Cam's hobbies is Ikebana, a Japanese art of flower arrangement.
  • Phil uses the phrase "Elephant in the room", an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed, to address the "problem" there is between Luke and Manny and that they have to solve it.
  • Jay mentions Dick Butkus, an American former football player for the Chicago Bears, when Cam and Mitchell join him to watch the football game.
  • Mitchell says that his interest in football ended as suddenly and dramatically as the climax of "West Side Story", referring to the American musical.
  • Claire called Gloria "gold digger" many times in the past which Luke mishears and says it as "coal digger" to everyone. Gold digger is slang for a greedy person who only dates (and subsequently marries) wealthy partners with the sole intention of exploiting said wealth.
  • Jay asks Mitchell and Cam how they find him as a man and when they feel uncomfortable to answer, Jay says that he knows he is not Erik Estrada. He also mentions the musical duo Righteous Brothers.