“Modern Family” is one of my favorite sitcoms on television, it’s a hilarious, often heart felt look at the idea of modern families that break the conventional mold of the nuclear family. The cast is brilliant, the writing is great, and you can’t help but engage yourself in their mishaps and activities. While “Modern Family” doesn’t celebrate Halloween every year, every time it’s delivered a Halloween episode, it’s a cause for celebration, because they’re very good about paying tribute to the holiday while also making us laugh. These are the Halloween specials so far from Worst to Absolute Best.
5. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Phil Dunphy” – Season Nine
This isn’t a bad episode, but it’s definitely a bad Halloween episode, mainly because the only people here taking on the holiday are Phil and Claire. The rest of the characters are being who they are, still stuck in perpetual misery. Mitch is angry Jay is taking long with their kitchen, Cam is intruding on Gloria’s personal space, little Joe wants them gone, and the Pritchett kids are… still kind of annoying. The only saving grace is the gags that Claire and Phil have to stop, including Claire’s staging of a zombie attack on her office, and Phil trying to turn a giant pumpkin in to a boat.
4. “Halloween IV: Revenge of Rod Skyhook” – Season Eight
This is a fun Halloween episode, even if it’s a bit uneven at times. This time around everyone is trying to work toward giving Luke a great Halloween party. Somehow Phil manages to rally all the high school kids along with him, masquerading as Rod Skyhook. There’s also a funny gag with Jay, Joe, and Gloria dressing as Jesus Mary and Joseph, and the night ending in Jay getting in to a fight with his nemesis, who is dressed as Satan. It’s still very tiring how Manny just refuses to compromise a little and be a bit conventional, but the whole Trumbo gag works mainly because Jay keeps guessing he’s a woman. I also like how Claire saves Luke’s party by diverting folks from the competing party by being a “mom.”
3. “Open House of Horrors” – Season Four
This is funny mainly because the Pritchetts take such joy out of scaring one another, and it shows in the finale. This year after Claire is forced to make her Halloween attraction family friendly, she thinks about scaring Phil at an open house, when he declares she’s not scary. This snowballs as she tries to hide from Phil as he shows the house to potential clients, and once Phil becomes aware of her presence, it turns in to a hilarious gag. There’s also the funny sub-plot of Manny being invited to the cool kids party, and Mitch and Cam as Batman and Robin chasing a prankster through the neighborhood. There;s also Gloria feuding with trick or treaters, and heart of the episode, Lily wanting to know about her natural mother. The icing on the cake is Jay flirting with a princess at Mitch and Cam’s party, unaware she is Transgender.
2. “Halloween 3: AwesomeLand” – Season Six
This is one of the funniest of the Halloween episodes mainly because we have the LaFontaine’s, the loud and rough around the edges neighbors that challenged the squeaky clean Pritchetts. Phil is anxious to have a friendlier display for their Halloween house, but Claire feels challenged when the LaFontaine’s threaten to blow them out of the water. The war takes a fun turn when Amber begins pranking Claire and Phil, prompting them to flip the attraction over and over. Although Mitch’s sub-plot is kind of dull, Cam’s scenario with Lily is hilarious as he has trouble keeping up with her school Halloween activities. It’s hilarious when he has trouble finding her in a crowd as she’s dressed as Waldo. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the LaFontaines and the Pritchetts, it’s too bad they didn’t get a chance to blossom more as rivals or friend.
1. “Halloween” – Season Two
The first Halloween special from “Modern Family” has always been the hardest to top because it’s the entire family at their best. Every single storyline has a guaranteed laugh. We find out that Claire takes Halloween very seriously because it’s her favorite holiday, but Phil becomes insecure when he finds out his neighbor’s wife left him suddenly. Meanwhile, Haley won’t stop dressing in skimpy costumes, and Luke and Manny take their costumes as a mad scientist and Frankenstein’s monster too seriously.
Meanwhile Gloria hilariously hides her accent with a bad American one after Jay criticizes her, Mitch misinterprets a conversation at his new job, shows up in costume as Spider-Man and now has to figure a way out of his scenario, all the while Cam keeps remembering a traumatic event during Halloween from his home town. “Halloween” is a riot and really breaks the whole squeaky clean vanilla image the Dunphy’s have in the first two seasons. The best part of the episode is the post credits scene where everyone is mocking Gloria’s mispronunciation of words, only for her to lose her temper and throw everyone out of the house.