"Unplugged" is the fifth episode from Season 2 of Modern Family, it aired on October 20, 2010.

Plot Summary

Noticing that everyone is too busy on their electronic devices to actually interact with one another, Claire and Phil declare a family challenge to see who can stay unplugged the longest. Meanwhile, it's a race against the clock as Mitchell and Cameron frantically try to get Lily into the best preschools, and Jay and Manny are concerned about how far Gloria will go to alleviate their problem with the neighbor's barking dog.

Episode Description

Everybody has problems right now. Gloria can't stand the constant barking of the neighbor's dog, Claire can't stand that the family is more into their electronic devices than being with each other...even Phil, and Mitchell and Cameron got faked out by the moms whose kids play with Lily and didn't enroll Lily in preschool soon enough. (MITCHELL: "Leave it to the gays to raise the only underachieving Asian in America.")

Gloria confronts the neighbor, except his ex-wife owns the dog, and he wants them to stop their parakeet. The one that goes Jay! Jay! Jay! (Apparently, Gloria's voice even sets off car alarms.)

Claire unplugs everybody in the house for a week, and Phil makes the mistake of offering a reward to the person who can last the longest, since he thinks he can live without his iPad longer than Alex, Haley, or Luke will.

Mitchell and Cameron head to the Wagon Wheel preschool, where Claire's kids went. The guys are definitely uptight, but one of the teachers tells them being a gay couple adopting a minority baby is a triple-threat, and schools will bend over backwards to get them into the fold so they can brag about diversity. Suddenly Cameron is VERY relaxed.

Jay, not so much. The neighbor accuses them of taking the dog, which Gloria promptly denies. But Jay knows better.

JAY: Gloria's grandfathers and uncles were butchers, so she's always had a certain comfort level when it comes to...killing. One time we had this rat...''(which Gloria killed and beheaded without a second thought)...she left the head out there to send a message to the other rats.

Jay talks to Manny privately about it, but Manny is too scared to want to know what Gloria did to the dog. Jay continues his investigation. The rat-killing shovel is clean, but Gloria catches them and is upset by their accusations. Gloria tells Jay the dog is in a better place. That she took it to live on a farm in the country. THEN she shows that she really did all of that, because she had a cousin with three kids who love the dog. Jay apologizes with a trip to Colombia, as he wants to see her old neighborhood. But she had a couple of car accidents down there, so she doesn't want to go back.

Things are going OK with the unplugged rule at the Dunphys. Luke even built a condo project out of cans and plastic bottles. That had no fire escapes and substandard electrical, which he destroyed. However, a parasailing donkey video on YouTube and a B on a science paper make Luke and Alex quit the contest. Claire was actually out next, as she realized changing reservations for a trip to see Phil's family requires the Internet, and shouting "representative" into an automated system sucks. Phil thinks he can last, until one of the players on his fantasy team is injured. Fortunately, Haley is texting someone on her phone, so Phil wins the contest. Only Haley made a phone out of a bar of soap and a marker to fake them out. Haley just got herself a car. Haley is excited, but Phil and Claire explain the mistake that Phil made. They kept on saying that Haley should be proud and that no one can ever take her victory away form her, but to high school students who thought they just won a car, she was very upset. No kidding.

Cam and Mitch get Lily into Wagon Wheel, but Mitchell is feeling lucky after he gets the interview as the ultra-posh Billingsley School. He thinks it's like Cam and he got picked first in gym class for once. They think they have the winning poker hand as a gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby. Until another couple stopped in. Even Cameron pretending to be a Native American didn't help. Actually, it made things worse.

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


  • A clip of this episode was shown at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games in London as a part of the tribute to pop music and culture.
  • In the greek version of the show, there are some parts of the episode that change:
    • When Danai (Haley) exposes her soap phone trick to her parents, Philippos (Phil) says that she wanted it for art, only for Alexandra (Alex) to tell him that in the third year of General Lyceum (High School), they don't do art. In the original series, nothing similar to this happens.

Cultural References

  • When Haley, Claire, and Phil are the only ones left in the contest, Haley says "And then there were three" referencing Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None".
  • Luke plays Plants vs. Zombies.
  • Phil says that they have been "shawshanked" referencing The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
  • The rat head Gloria left out as a warning is a reference to the Godfather where the decapitated head of a horse is left on the bed as a warning.