Modern Familyreturns for its third season, and while this episode isn’t the strongest in the history of the show, it still delivers enough comedic goods to keep us watching in the weeks to come. All the regulars deliver the kind of performances we’ve come to expect from them, and a strong guest star stops by to add his own unique personality to the mix. Read on to see how we felt. . .

The Players

  • Director: Jason Winer
  • Writers: Paul Corrigan, Dan O’Shannon, Brad Walsh
  • Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Reid Ewing, Tim Blake Nelson

Episode Title: “Dude Ranch”

The new season starts off with a vacation-themed episode in which the family heads to–you guessed it–a dude ranch, with Haley’s boyfriend Dylan in tow. Cam and Mitch are secretly thinking about adopting a new baby boy, but Mitch feels that he isn’t masculine enough to be a traditional father. Ariel, in the meantime, deals with an obnoxious boy who is interested in her. Claire does her best to warm up to Dylan, but his general stupidity makes such a feat difficult. Phil continues to grapple with Jay’s treatment towards him, and Tim Blake Nelson appears as a cowboy with his eyes set on Gloria.

The Good:

  • Tim Blake Nelson: Man oh man, this poor guy is too often overlooked. Sure, enough people respect his acting abilities to keep him in work, but he’s the rare kind of performer who isn’t at all afraid of making a complete fool out of himself if it means delivering a strong, funny performance. He was the highlight of the episode, and it’s a shame to realize that his involvement in the series will be limited to this one instance.
  • Mitch’s manhood: “Modern Family” always strives to be the kind of show that balances effective humor with some genuine emotional content. Every now and then, it fails to do so, forcing a message into a story that would work better without so much moralizing, but the subplot involving Mitch’s insecurities about his ability to raise a boy are touching without being sappy or sentimental.

The So-So:

  • Alex’s boy trouble: With Haley securely in the role of the boy-crazy teenager, and Alex as the studious introvert, it should have been a little interesting to see Alex deal with a potential boyfriend for a change. Unfortunately, this brief subplot isn’t given enough attention, making it seem fairly superfluous. Ok, a boy kisses her, and even though she pretends to be grossed out, she’s actually a little attracted to him. If that went somewhere, it might be worth it, but because it doesn’t, we’re stuck with a fairly pointless subplot.

The Bad:

  • Dylan’s departure: Unless the writers are faking us out, it looks as though Dylan will no longer be a part of the show. This is fine–he was never the strongest element to begin with–but the way they get rid of him is forced and unrealistic.


A decent enough start to the season. Sure, there have been some far stronger episodes of this show, but it certainly wasn’t disappointing enough to make us lose faith. We’re still being entertained, and we still feel confident that the rest of the season will be worth tuning in for.

Rating: 7.5/10

“Modern Family” airs every Wednesday night on ABC!

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