"Sleeper" is the twenty-first episode from Season 5 of Modern Family, it aired on April 30, 2014.

Plot Summary

Phil fails at his one task to stay home and wait for the repairman, forcing him to tell an elaborate lie to hide the truth from Claire, but the stress is more than he can physically handle. Meanwhile, Gloria is obsessing over the family portrait she is responsible for organizing this year. Claire accuses Cam of being too snobby to use her girls' hand-me-downs, and Jay secretly enters Stella in a dog show.

Episode Description

It's the family photo time. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the concept: get the whole extended family together wearing some sort of "uniform", like a black t-shirt and jeans in the case of the Dunphys and Pritchetts. Mitchell takes Jay to the mall to get his t-shirt, and Jay is impressed that Mitch keeps up his piano playing because he is really good. Mitchell was fooling around on the piano in the mall that played by itself, so he isn't happy Jay doesn't know anything about him. Luke is desperate to find a clean t-shirt...or underwear...because the washing machine needs to be fixed at the Dunphy household. Phil has to wait for between 10 and 2 for the repairman to show up, which worked for him. The record store nearby found the 45 (that's a one-song record for you kids out there) he was looking for: Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".

PHIL: June 10, 1988. Carla Concannon and I spent the afternoon frolicking at the public pool. Later, at her house, things got...private. It was my first time, it was her first time...with me...

Phil runs right down to get the 45 and relives the greatest 3:42 of his life. And how long the song is, too. But then overcome by a massive wave of guilt of "cheating" on Claire, he takes subtle steps to hide his misdeeds. Like smashing the record to smithereens and then cutting his hand open trying to pick up the broken pieces, leaving blood on the doorjamb, and shoving Haley's headphones into the couch. What he doesn't get away with is the repairman; they had come and gone.

Claire, meanwhile, has dropped off another box of hand-me-downs for Cameron to go through for Lily. Claire apologizes for it being in her car for a long time, but Lily can sympathize with that. (CAMERON: It was three minutes while I went into the pharmacy, the window was cracked and you had a juice box. Could we retire that story?). But it turns out Cam isn't much for dressing Lily in any of the girls' hand-me-downs, which angers Claire to no end. She thinks Cam is being a snob about it. Mitchell relates the story of Jay and him earlier, and Claire says that Jay wasn't wired for compliments and she is certain Mitch's piano playing was great. Again, Mitchell never played the piano. And Cameron is offended that Claire thinks he is being a snob. He has permanent dirt under his fingernail from working the soil. (Definition of working the soil: re-potting his orchids).

Gloria is a bit apprehensive about having Joe in the picture. Since her family in Colombia will see it, she thinks that Joe looks a bit too pale. She gives some thought to getting him a spray tan but then taking him for a walk later without putting the shade upon his stroller fixed that problem for her. Of course, Joe is half-Pritchett, so Manny has to come up with an idea to cover the sunburn on Joe's face. What baby will not look cute with a Colombian flag paint on him like it was the World Cup?

Jay, having had his banner day of shopping at the mall and pissing off his son, gets a call from Phil. Jay insists he never saw Phil and Phil never saw him. Phil is shocked but delighted Jay isn't going to narc on seeing Phil coming out of the record store with that 45. Actually, it was Phil not seeing Jay walking Stella with a pretty collar around her neck outside a doggie boutique. Jay finds out about a dog show in the park and wants to enter Stella. But he isn't completely sure about doing all the prancing around like you see in those shows, so he is doing it on the sly. Which, unfortunately, is right when the family photograph is scheduled.

Cam sets to prove Lily did wear hand-me-downs by staging a Christmas photo in the house, complete with a tree and empty boxes all around it. (LILY: You're killing me!). Although it will have been good to let Mitchell be in the picture because he is getting more neurotic about his stocking, not on the mantle. That, and Cameron not even paying attention to him about the family ignoring him. Meanwhile, Haley has to take Luke to a laundromat to get his shirt washed. Since all the machines are occupied, she slips in the wash of another person. That person is a nerdy guy she convinced to get her a Coachella ticket and then ditched him the minute she got there. Needless to say, the guy wasn't happy, and given he waited for her for eight hours, walked the parking lots twice, and had the battery from his car stolen when he went home, you could understand why. But at least Haley distracts him enough for Luke to get his shirt from the dryer. Of course, it's the wrong shirt (not even the correct gender), but Luke does like the way it looks on him.

Phil is feeling the guilt over what he did. So much so, he is starting to fall asleep. On the good side, though, Alex can now change her AP Biology topic from mono to narcolepsy. She even has a test case, having correctly guess why Phil is falling asleep. Phil is all set to confess to Claire when a diamond ring fell out of Lily's pocket. It's Claire's engagement ring. Which is weird, given Claire is wearing her engagement ring. Or perhaps the ring she replaced her original with when she lost it. Of course, let's go back to the reason she would have lost it in the first place. She had taken it off to flirt her way out of a speeding ticket and started liking pretending to be single every now and again. Given she just brats a Christmas picture of Lily's on Cam's phone as being fake, she isn't in much of a place to do anything but apologize. And obviously, Phil is now off the hook because someone else did it better. But now Mitchell has reached his limit, given they were about to take the picture and nobody noticed he wasn't in it. After causing the weakest scene in recorded history, Jay takes him aside and apologizes, thinking this is his fault. But Jay doesn't sugar-coat it; he says they don't always focus on Mitchell because people are focused on their own stupid problems. And he's very steady (NOT boring like Mitch thinks). In fact, Jay says Mitch inspired him recently.

JAY: It all started when I noticed this group of guys in a corner at the park. And when I found out what they were doing, at first I thought it was kind of weird, but I kept thinking about it and I decided to give it a whirl. I think you know where I'm going with this. One of the older guys showed me the ropes, next thing you know I'm hanging out in that corner of the park every day and loving it! But I also had some shame about it because it feels good when I'm doing it, but is that me now? A guy with a show dog?

MITCHELL: (relieved) See, there it is. I knew what it wasn't. I just wasn't sure what it was.

Jay is ready to give it up, but Mitchell says he shouldn't be embarrassed or not tell anyone about it. It's something to be proud of.

MITCHELL: A wise man once told me "I don't get it, but if that's who you are, don't you DARE be ashamed of it".

JAY: I did handle that kind of well. And it wasn't easy. I just never pictured my kid a lawyer.

Sure enough, everybody goes to see Jay and Stella at the dog show and cheers them on.

MANNY: (voiceover) It's scary to let people see the real you. Even when those people are your own family. But aren't they the ones we should least worried about? The ones who will love us without judging? Who will forgive our faults and celebrate our imperfections? Maybe even encourage us to let our true selves shine through?

Of course, that talk will go over better if Gloria doesn't ask Manny to hit the button to get rid of her wrinkles on Photoshop. Or if Manny doesn't take a header on a skateboard...that Stella is riding.

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
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Rod McLachlan as Fred
  • Jonathan Runyon as Keith



  • The episode title refers to Phil constantly falling asleep as a result of feeling guilty about believing that he is "cheating" on Claire.
  • Phil lost his virginity on June 10, 1988 with a woman named Carla Concannon.
  • Mitchell is lactose intolerant.
  • The man who explains to Jay the dog show's rules is called Fred, regarding the press release of this episode. However, he is never named during episode.
  • For the family portrait, everyone wears black clothes, while in the episode "Family Portrait", everyone wore white clothes for the picture.

Cultural References

  • The episode title serves as a homage to the Woody Allen film of the same name.
  • Phil buys Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".
  • Haley abandoned Keith at Coachella.
  • Claire notices a recent issue of Vanity Fair magazine in the "Christmas" photo.
  • Gloria asks if Manny injured himself doing that "Russian dance" - probably in reference to the hopak, the famous "squat dance" which is actually Ukrainian in origin.
  • At the mall, the piano plays itself "Maple Leaf" from Scott Joplin which is also heard in the Twilight Zone episode "The Convict's Piano".