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"Three Dinners" is the thirteenth episode from Season 5 of Modern Family, it aired on January 22, 2014.

Plot Summary

Phil and Claire take Haley out to dinner to discuss her future, but Haley manages to turn the tables. Elsewhere, Jay's friend Shorty and wife Darlene are back visiting, and they have some news that doesn't sit well with Jay. And, Mitch and Cam decide to have a nice, romantic dinner date where they don't talk about the wedding or about Lily, which then leads to a lot of awkward silences.

Episode Description

Claire and Phil have been having a lot of difficulty with Haley. She seems unmotivated: taking a lot of selfies, sleeping ten hours a day, and missing half of the three classes she takes each week. Yelling at her doesn't seem to work, so Claire and Phil try to take her out to dinner and talk some sense into her. They even try to get her to notice their waiter, before asking him what his plans are. (PHIL: I'd kill to have those lips. I mean on me. I mean I want his lips on my mouth.) Short-term, he's going to go home and smoke some weed. Long-term, he wants to be a screenwriter. Smoking weed aside, Claire and Phil still think that's a lot more than what Haley wants to do. As it turns out, Haley does have a plan. Those selfies she's been taking are pictures of her in different outfits and she's managing a blog about them. Aside from a few pervs who keep asking her what she's wearing, she's gotten a lot of fashion questions from women and has over 1,200 followers, even making some bucks in the process. She thinks a career in fashion photography has potential. Certainly, she says, it's more than what either Claire or Phil were doing at her age. Phil wanted to be a magician, and Claire changed her major almost every week, according to Grandpa Jay, who Haley would rather drink with than her own parents.

As the night wears on and the drinks keep coming (for Phil and Claire, not Haley), Haley turns the tables on her hammered parents and presses them for their plans when she, Alex, and Luke are out of the house for good. Phil wants to buy an RV and drive across the country with their future dog Merlin, but Claire wants to travel the world, and fly to India... Africa... (PHIL: Diarrhoea, diarrhoea). Haley presses harder, asking Claire how long she plans to keep running Jay's business and whether Phil wants to sell houses for the rest of his life, or try to become a magician like he's always wanted. After getting thrown off, Phil and Claire also realise that they've forgotten to bring money, so dinner (and the ride home) is on Haley, proving that she's the responsible adult amongst the three.

It's an overdue night-out for Mitchell and Cameron, and talk of Lily or planning the wedding are verboten. This, unfortunately, doesn't leave them with much to talk about, despite Cam's attempts to read up on Syria on his smartphone to hold a conversation. They do manage to strike up a conversation with the couple at the next table. Katie, according to her boyfriend, Brandon, loves sharing food, and the tuna tartare does look delicious to Cam. It turns out Katie's father is a Missouri farmer, and Cam just loves the fact she understands the rules of eating on the farm. (CAMERON: In my family, we didn't say grace; we said, "On your mark, get set, go!") Katie excuses herself, and the reserved Brandon (a virtual copy of Mitch) tells them he's about to propose to Katie and needs some privacy. Mitchell and Cam agree, and Cam even offers to videotape it on his phone under the guise of reading an online site so they would have the video forever. Mitch is afraid Cam would give it away, Cam denies it. Brandon proposes... and Cameron doesn't screw it up. Mitchell doesn't screw it up either. Katie, however, says no. Now that screws it up.

Brandon is flabbergasted and dejectedly excuses himself from the table. Katie tries to explain to Mitch and Cam that she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life with a man whom she shares nothing in common with, especially one who would not let her eat off his plate. And despite the fact Mitch and Cam don't have much to converse about tonight, Mitchell assures her he cannot picture his life without Cameron, who feels the same way. Brandon returns and Katie tells him that, on Mitch and Cam's advice, she's tried to picture her life without him...and could. She leaves, leaving Mitch and Cam to console Brandon with a lot of alcohol and promises of how she's not the right girl for him and he can definitely do better. They even sprinkle some insults about Katie's physical appearance. Then, in a twisted turn of events, Katie comes back, deciding she just has cold feet and that she really wants to marry Brandon. Mitchell and Cameron hurriedly leaves before they can do any more damage.

Jay and Gloria are hosting dinner with Jay's friend, Shorty, and his girlfriend Darlene. They have a big announcement for Jay: they're moving to Costa Rica. With the lower cost of living, they can afford a huge place with their own private beach, and Shorty figures the humid weather will be just like being in the sauna, only he won't have to see wrinkly Jay sitting in a towel. Jay, knowing Shorty's track record, tells him he's giving it only three months. This is Shorty's pattern, according to Jay: do something crazy without giving it much thought, give up after he becomes broke, and come crawling back to Jay begging for money. Jay puts his foot down and says he won't bail Shorty out this time, and Shorty takes offense, storming out of the house. Gloria and Manny, however, think there's a lot more going on than that. She calls Jay out for being the most sensitive person she knows. Jay also has a pattern: he pushes people away before they have a chance to hurt him. It turns out that there is some validity behind that. Shorty stayed at the hospital with Jay for three days when Mitchell was born a month premature and things were very touch-and-go. Shorty is a true friend to him, and Gloria thinks Shorty actually hurt Jay by deciding to move away. Shorty comes back to get the jacket he forgot, and Jay confesses he didn't mean all the hurtful things he said earlier in the evening. Jay thanks him for being a good friend, and Shorty returns with how he has always valued how forthright Jay is, that he's a self-made stand-up guy that he can always count on. The two end up hugging each other and sobbing in each other's embrace.

GLORIA (TO MANNY): To be honest, this is a little girlier than I thought.

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



  • Shorty stayed at the hospital with Jay for three days when Mitchell was born a month premature, so Jay gave Mitchell's middle name as Vincent, after Shorty's real name.
  • Shorty was a Marine.
  • Phil has always wanted to be a magician.
  • When Haley was younger, she could not pronounce the letter "p".
  • Alex, Luke, Lily and Joe do not appear, although Lily is mentioned by Cam.
  • This is Darlene's last episode.


Cultural References