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"Coal Digger" is the fifth episode of the American family sitcom, Modern Family. It premiered on American Broadcasting Company in the United States on October 21, 2009. The episode was written by co-creator and executive producer of Modern Family, Christopher Lloyd and directed by series main director, Jason Winer.[1]

"Coal Digger"
Modern Family episode
Coal Digger (Modern Family).jpg
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 5
Directed by Jason Winer
Written by Christopher Lloyd
Production code 1ARG03
Original air date October 21, 2009
Guest appearance(s)
  • Andrew Borba (Mr. Balaban)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Incident"
Next →
"Run for Your Wife"
List of Modern Family episodes

In the episode, the whole family gathers at Jay and Gloria's to watch the football game. Mitch, who does not know much about football, decides to learn some things about it so he can enjoy the game. Luke and Manny make up after fighting at school, but when Manny says that Luke calls Gloria a "coal digger" (a term he has heard from Claire), things get worse, with Gloria leaving the room. Eventually, Claire apologizes and the two women make up.

"Coal Digger" received positive reviews from critics and was named in the top 100 best television episodes of 2009 by BuddyTV. It received a 3.4/9 in the 18-49 demographic according to Nielsen Media Research.



The whole family is invited for some barbecue and football at Gloria (Sofía Vergara) and Jay's (Ed O'Neill) house. At school, however, there is an incident between Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and Luke (Nolan Gould) after Manny called Luke his nephew, making things very awkward for Claire (Julie Bowen) and Gloria.

Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) is a former college football player and is comfortable with Jay's attitude towards the game. On the other side, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) does not care about football but in order to be more comfortable, he decides to learn more about the game and the two teams so he can try to enjoy the evening along with his dad. His attempt to do so fails miserably when he regularly misuses football terms.

After the family gathers at Jay's house, Phil (Ty Burrell) and Jay talk to Luke and Manny, in order to have them settle their differences. Phil begins to explain the situation, but Jay takes over and simply tells the boys that they are family, and instead of fighting, they should love each other. The boys then go outside and play. While they are outside, Phil convinces Gloria and Claire to address their annoyances with each other.

Later, when the boys have had some fun, Manny brings up that Luke constantly insults Gloria, calling her a "coal digger". Phil corrects Luke's pronunciation saying he meant "gold digger". Luke states that he has heard of this term from his mom, having used it through the past year. This makes the whole situation worse with Gloria leaving the gathering and staying in her room, refusing to join the group. Phil tries to reason with her, resulting in an awkward situation. Eventually Claire comes to apologize, but Gloria will not accept it unless she can get even. She tells Claire that the only way she can forgive her is to jump into the pool with her clothes on. Claire does it, and soon afterward, everyone, except Haley (Sarah Hyland), jumps in or is pushed in as well.


The episode was written by Christopher Lloyd co-creator of Modern Family, making it his second writing credit for the series and first season after the pilot episode. "Coal Digger" was also directed by Jason Winer, his fifth directing credit for the series after directing all previous episodes.[1] The episode, "Coal Digger" originally aired in the United States on October 21, 2009 on American Broadcasting Company as the fifth episode of the series and first season.

Andrew Borba guest starred in the episode as the principal of Luke and Manny's school who is named Mr. Balaban. The episode is also the first episode featuring their school. Also the following episode "Run for Your Wife" (produced two episodes before "Coal Digger") is the episode with the first day of school.



In its original American broadcast, "Coal Digger" was viewed by an estimated 8.661 million households and got a Nielsen rating of 3.4 rating/9% share in the 18-49 demographic.[2]


The episode received mostly positive reviews from critics.

BuddyTV named "Coal Digger" the 45th best episode of 2009 saying "Gloria and Claire got into a hilarious feud after it's revealed that Claire used to call her young step-mom a gold digger, wrongly interpreted as "coal digger" by her kids."[3]

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 7.7/10 saying it was "Good" and "Coal Digger" proved that even without being packed with hilarity, the young series can still deliver some entertaining television."[4]

James Poniewozik of Time said "Modern Family wasn't as disappointing as last night's Glee, and I found plenty of laughs in it, but all the same it was probably the show's weakest outing."[5]

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a A- saying "I say that Phil -- whom I've had my doubts about because of his broad cluelessness -- won me over this episode".[6]

Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a positive review saying "There were so many funny moments in this episode, as there are every episode."[7]

Michael Slezak from Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a positive review. "Of course, as we’ve learned over five glorious episodes, skewering the idiosyncrasies of a very diverse, very real family is what Modern Family does best."[8]


  1. ^ a b "Modern Family: Coal Digger Writers, Directors, and Crew". Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  2. ^ Robert Seidman (2009-10-22). "TV Ratings, Broadcast finals: Glee, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Criminal Minds tick up; Mercy, Old Christine, SVU, Eastwick tick down". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  3. ^ "TV's 50 Best Episodes of 2009 [slideshow]". BuddyTV. December 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ Canning, Robert (October 22, 2009). "Modern Family: "Coal Digger" Review". IGN. Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  5. ^ Poniewozik, James (October 22, 2009). "The Morning After: I Ain't Sayin' She a Coal Digger". Time. Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ Bowman, Donna (October 21, 2009). ""Coal Digger" – Modern Family – TV Club – TV – The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  7. ^ Hughes, Jason (October 22, 2009). "Review: Modern Family - Coal Digger". TV Squad. Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ Slezak, Michael (October 22, 2009). "'Modern Family' recap: Snap! Tackle Pop?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 

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