It was a double shot of "Modern Family" this week, as two new back-to-back episodes touched on some big-time family matters and common fears that all parents face.
School's inFirst up, it was back to school for several of the "Modern Family" characters. With Haley (Sarah Hyland) going off to college, and Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) starting kindergarten, the first episode, "Schooled," focused on the beginnings of empty nest syndrome. In addition, Jay and Gloria (Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara) started taking baby classes, and they turned out to be the not-so-know-it-alls of the class.
Phil and Claire (Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen) packed Haley up for a family trip to her dorm, with Phil donning an embarrassing "Haley Dunphy Moving Co." T-shirt and a special gift for his daughter: A thoughtfully compiled collection of his words of wisdom, packaged into a hardback book called "Phil's-osophy." (Sample quote: "Dance until your feet hurt. Sing until your lungs hurt. Act until you're William Hurt.")
Of course, the bumbling Phil also grabbed the behind of Haley's dorm mate after mistakenly thinking she was Claire. So much for "Sensitive Guy"!
Meanwhile, at the kindergarten, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) got a time- out after a 5-year-old brute pulled Lily's hair, and they took matters into their own hands -- without using their words. (Hey, they were just defending their kid!) But the real fighting ensued when they came face to face with bully boy's tough-as-nails lesbian parents, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey and Michaela Watkins. In a mini physics lesson, Cam demonstrated that gay men and lesbian women simply have nothing in common.
In the end, they all came together after realizing that they do have something in common: The mutual love of their kids, who by now were BFFs.
Back at the dorms, a homesick Haley closed out the show wearing her dad's "Haley Dunphy Moving Co." tee, surely making every viewer who happens to be the parent of a college freshman this year a tad teary-eyed in the process.
A snippetThe second episode, titled "Snip," dealt with parenting fears. For Phil, it was high time for a vasectomy, something that had been heavy on both his mind and Claire's after Jay and Gloria's "little accident." It's also part of their "five-year plan" to have freedom (and tans!) after their youngest, Luke, goes off to college.
Jay was tapped to take Phil to his appointment (he greeted him at the door by gleefully announcing, "Chop chop!"), but when Phil had second thoughts about the procedure, it was his 65-year-old expectant father-in-law who calmed him down. Jay even let Phil in on a little secret: He was scared to have a daughter and was hoping the new baby is a boy.
Across town, Gloria was eating pizza with her firstborn, Manny (Rico Rodriguez), and popping out of her clothes in the process. Seems an extra slice of pepperoni will do that to a woman who's still fighting nature and squeezing a visibly pregnant body into super tight spandex.
With Lily in school, Mitchell began to brooch the subject of Cam going back to work -- especially after he saw the "master project" his partner had spent the last eight weeks on: a hand-sewn, glittery mermaid costume for the cat! It didn't pan out quite like Mitch expected (his attempt to get Cam a job at a men's clothing boutique only resulted in Cam storming out and saying he refused to be a "common shop girl"), but later everyone seemed to find their niche: Gloria broke down and bought maternity clothes, Phil put a five-year hold on his vasectomy plans, and Cam got a job as a music teacher at Luke's school!
"Modern Family" producers have also managed to keep the college freshman Haley on the show -- via Skype. It's a wonderful departure from past sitcoms that dealt with college-bound kids. (Think "The Cosby Show" and Lisa Bonet's spinoff.) Haley Skyping in every week? It really is a different world.
"Modern Family" airs on Wednesday nights at 9 PM ET on ABC.
More from this contributor:5 surprising Sofia Vergara looks
- Family & Relationships
- Arts & Entertainment
- Modern Family