Commencement is the twenty-first episode from Season 10 of Modern Family, it aired on May 1, 2019.

Plot Summary

Cam is finally getting a chance to shine when he is asked to preside over the high school graduation ceremony at the last minute, while Jay gives the commencement address. Meanwhile, Claire runs into her former high school rival who brings out the worst in her.[1]

Episode Description

Cameron learns that Principal Brown has been injured in a car accident which lands him the opportunity to become the man who will preside the graduation today. At the same time, Jay has to give a speech during this graduation.

However, a series of mishaps occur during the ceremony. First, a group of students mock Jay because , in the past, he destroyed a cedar forest to make closets, killing a rare espece of owls. Second, Mitch is called in order to play a memoriam but plays horribly wrong. Lastly, a gardener informs Cam that he must accelerate the ceremony because of an automatic watering which will trigger itself.

Cam unfortunately can't finish before the watering wets everyone.

It looks that the family is having an horrible day. In Manny's case, he learns that he passed an art exam and is very happy, but when he sees that Gloria bribes Joe's karate instructor by giving him a watch in exchange of a yellow belt for Joe, he reconsiders and wonders if his mother bribed everyone else.

Meanwhile, the Dunphys, minus Alex, go to a local grocery. Phil and Claire are overjoyed to go to Alex's graduation from Caltech because she is almost a valedictorian, and even mocks of a former rival's child. However, both Haley and Luke are sad because it seems that they are not considered as smart as their sister.

For Claire, things get worse when she meets a former rival of hers, who makes her jealousy reappear. But, then, she learns that this woman and her husband won't be able to see their daughter who joined Isis.

After the first ceremony, the family sits in Dylan's van while he drives when they see Alex, on the road, who seems gloomy. As she says, she was so impatient to graduate that she made a geek fiesta and discover that now that all her goals were accomplished, she had no more ambition. Luckily for her, Haley and Luke manage to comfort her, by saying that if they can survive in the real world, she can to.

After the second ceremony, which turns out to be much better that the previous one, Gloria hides watches in a biscuit crock. Manny reveals that he actually earned his reward by himself, and discovers a cookie that he eats before being surprised by Joe.

Main Cast

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

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Joe Pritchett
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy (Haley Marshall)
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Reid Ewing as Dylan
  • Virginia Williams as Ashley
  • Matt Roth as Skip Woosnum
  • Landon Klotz as Pitkowski
  • Jay Pichardo as Groundskeeper
  • Jay Mandyam as Chug
  • Tom Everett as Dean
  • Kendall Foote as Auctioneer
  • Tyler Cook as Ashley's Husband
  • Matthew Wrather as Sensei Ron
  • Joshua Tyler Kelly as Gerald
  • Mina Joo as Store Worker


  • Commencement means Beginning in French language.


Cultural References

  • Manny references Inspector Clouseau and Cato, due to their fondness of Pink Panther films
  • Manny says not to show Psycho to Joe
  • Cam mentions choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov
  • Alex claims that there are more galaxies in the universe than grains of sand on a beach. This isn't really true; there are thought to be about 2 trillion galaxies, while there are 2 trillion grains of sand in just 12 square meters (130 sq ft) of beach.[1]


  • The AV Club gave it a "C". I’ve spent a fair amount of time criticizing how Modern Family treats its tertiary characters. Namely, whatever the likes of Alex, Manny, Luke, and Haley are going through never really seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. Seemingly important storylines are introduced and then abandoned, or, more commonly, ignored for long stretches. The most prominent example of that is Alex’s time spent at Cal Tech. College should have been fertile ground for the show to give Alex more meaty material, and yet, here comes “Commencement,” not only noting that time has passed without the show really noticing, but also failing to deliver a meaningful payoff. [...] Manny, Joe, Gloria, and Jay are consistently put in tertiary stories that not only lack any dramatic or comedic aspects, but usually stray into farce that simply isn’t funny. [...] The whole thing would land a lot better if we actually spent time in Alex’s head, understanding why she’s nervous and what that means to her worldview. Instead, “Commencement” introduces us to a distressed Alex in its final minutes, and expects the emotional crescendo to be effective. It’s a waste of a moment that Modern Family could have made special.



Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.