Modern Family, “Haley’s 21st Birthday,” (6.10) - TV Review


MF Haley

Modern Family, Season 6, Episode 10, “Haley’s 21st Birthday”

December 10th, 2014, 9PM, ABC

The Dunphy-Pritchett clan tries bonding this week – the kinds that last and the kinds that fail and the kind that are almost entirely literal. In the a-plot, Haley turns twenty one this week! This requires the entire family to descend together on a bar to celebrate the occasion, where Claire tries desperately to be seen as more than a nagging mom in her daughter’s eyes, leading her to become more and more permissive and more and more open as the evening progresses…until Haley decides they should get matching tattoos. Elsewhere in the bar, Mitch and Cam realize they’re less cool than they thought they were when Haley rejects their taste in fashion - and soon lie that Haley and Claire are their straight female friends when they realize that a bachelorette party filled with straight women aren’t interested in hanging out with them, leading them, too, to head to the tattoo parlor ; Phil and Jay run into trouble while trying to pick up Haley’s present – a new car. Phil’s terrible negotiating skills lead Jay to interfere and they soon end up carless when Jay’s attempt at driving a hard bargain results in the dealership letting them walk away, leaving them to beg for a deal and Jay to ultimately shell out much more than he wished to; and Lily gets three different stories when she asks Alex, Luke and Manny where babies come from, ultimately forcing the teens to hide from their charge…who thinks she has the answer to the question she posed and that they’re the naive ones.

Little ones grow up so fast, don’t they? When we first met Haley Dunphy she was roughly fifteen years old; now she’s a full-fledged adult…whose decision-making skills definitely reflect a mixture of what her parents have taught her over time. It’s just plain funny watching Claire first try to keep up with her daughter, then finally start pushing her when she threatens to back away from a promise made. In the end, no matter what either of them do, they’re bonded together as mother and daughter, marked with ink or not.

The Phil and Jay plotline is the best one in the episode, and completely relatable. We all have that relative who thinks they know everything about price haggling, and we’ve all been outfoxed or at least had to deal with a pushy car salesman. Jay’s hard-nosed attitude’s always hilarious when it collides with Phil’s softer, sweeter mentality, and this episode proves no exception.

The Lily mini-plot manages to somehow be mildly squicky and yet decently funny, with strong performances coming from all four actors.

The biggest problem is probably the extreme stereotyping involved in Mitch and Cam’s plotline. The weird attachment they have to being seen as hip and au currant by straight women makes little sense and is a general problem with how they’re written on the show. I know that they’re always portrayed as trying to be hip and current and trendy, but it seems as if the show’s been playing that note more heavily than ever this season, for wont of something better to have them do. Even so, this is still a funny episode worth a look.

The Roundup

  • Wow. That pen and a bagel joke. Wowww…
  • Luke echoing bro culture and Manny echoing back a more feminist point of view was an interesting choice.
  • …So Dylan is great in bed, is what I’m grasping here….
  • Gee, I think the show is sponsored by TOYOTA.
  • Lily gets her first voiceover outro in tonight’s episode! It’s been a long time since the show’s delved into its traditional storytelling format; I missed it.
  • Next Week: Modern Family embarks on its winter hiatus for the next two weeks at minimum. Happy Holidays!

An uneven yet amusing episode. Great performances and relatable situations support the general enjoyability of the episode.


About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.