Fall TV Preview

Modern Family Season 3 Scoop: Ranch Life, Happy Holidaze, Sisters at Arms and More!

Modern Family is expanding! Or is it?

Last season, Cam and Mitchell decided to add another member to their clan by adopting a second baby. But when ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy returns on Sept. 21, they’ll start having some doubts — that is until some throws out the words “dude” and “ranch.”

In an exclusive interview with TVLine, Family co-creator and executive producer Christopher Lloyd teases the Pritchett-Dunphy brood’s big cowboy adventure, offers details on a looming sibling showdown, and reveals why Season 3’s Christmas episode will be a seriously mixed-up affair.

HEY DUDE | The show is going more salt of the earth for its next family trip. After Phil’s Family Camp idea gets shot down, everyone goes to a dude ranch for the hour-long season premiere, which was shot in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Hawaii, it’s definitely not. But Phil will find a silver-lining to the adventure. “He [decides] it will be a chance for him to once again demonstrate to Jay that he is a worthy son-in-law,” previews Lloyd. “So Phil does a lot of practicing in the driveway, like shooting a gun and roping things.” The dude ranch might be just what Mitchell and Cam need too. They make a big decision – to adopt a baby boy! – but then “start to have some uncertainty” about whether they have what it takes to raise the little guy. “They figure, ‘A dude ranch sounds like a good way for us to rediscover our macho side,’” says Lloyd.

A VERY MIXED UP CHRISTMAS | If your favorite episodes are the ones where the family dynamics get shaken up, you won’t want to miss this season’s Christmas outing. “We have Gloria [paired] off with Luke,” reveals Lloyd. “We’ve got Phil with Manny, Mitchell with Alex.” Lloyd says one of the advantages of having such a talented ensemble is it allows the show’s writers to “put them in pairings we’re not used to seeing and discover new dimensions. It seems very real because they are family members.”

SISTER ACT | Remember that nice, genuine moment of peace Alex and Haley enjoyed at the younger Dunphy’s middle school graduation? It’s not going to last for very long now that the girls are attending the same school, which, naturally, Haley is not very happy about. In one episode, they’ll find themselves in the same math class and “hating it.” But Alex and Haley are family, so “they ultimately love each other, and they can help each other,” says Lloyd. And they’ll do so by turning that shared math class to “their mutual advantage.”

WHO’S YOUR MOMMY? | If you’re wondering what kind of a woman raised Phil Dunphy, you may have to keep wondering. Ty Burrell previously told TVLine he’s got “a feeling we’ll never meet Phil’s mom,” something Lloyd all but confirms. “It enables us to paint a picture of a larger than life character,” he says. “And it would certainly make sense that Phil would come from colorful, larger-than-life parents.” It’s not the first time the show has built up a character with just words. “We’re doing that maybe a little bit with Cameron’s sister, with allusions to this slightly strange creature she is,” he continues. “For example, she was born with a whole set of teeth. That’s something we find out in a throwaway moment — Cameron points it out almost proudly — and we may fill in that portrait a little bit as we go.” While the possibility of seeing Phil’s mom on screen remains uncertain, Fred Willard as Papa Dunphy “is certainly one [person] we would love to have back.”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. jenna says:

    i love this show. Hopefully theres more manny this season, rico rodriguez is hilarious in his portrayal

  2. Sue says:

    How do Alex and Haley end up in the same math class? Isn’t Alex the “smart” one?

    • Katie says:

      Maybe Alex gets put in a more advanced math class for her age, which would be considered the standard math class for Haley’s age.

      • Ben says:

        Exactly…Alex is a freshman and considering Hayley got her drivers license in season 1, the timeline suggests she’d be a senior in high school this year. I’m sure she’ll be embarrassed to be in the same class as her freshman sister.

    • lovetorun says:

      yes, but haley is older. alex probably just skipped the preceding math classes, whereas haley had to take them.

      • Edward says:

        Or, given how academically challenged Haley is, maybe she hasn’t been able to pass the earlier math classes. She needs to be held back, so she can stay on the show.

    • H says:

      Alex is the smart one so that’s why she’s in an advanced class AKA the same class as her older sister who’s not as smart. For me, I was in Advanced Algebra 2 as a Freshman, which is after Geometry which is the norm for freshmen though some are still in Algebra 1. And there were Seniors and Juniors in my class. So it makes sense that they could be in the same class. And having your younger sister in the same math class as you could definitely be embarrassing.

  3. jomai says:

    gaaaah, can’t wait for season 3….

  4. Grant Gillingham says:

    It sounds like Steve is going to copy the Frasier idea with Phil’s Mother – they’re going to make her so illusive that we never see her, just like Maris Crane on Frasier. Anyone agree?

    • defrost says:

      Exactly, I always thought it was brilliant to never actually show Maris. I had such a perfect vision of her, no portrayal would give it justice.

  5. Dave says:

    This is one of the best shows ever to air on television.