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Message Received

"Message Received" is the 22nd episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom Modern Family, and the series' 118th overall. It aired on May 7, 2014. The episode deals with themes of stepping outside one's comfort zone. While the episode touches on lighter plot elements such as Jay's household all trying new things, the name of the episode refers to the revealing conversation between Jay and Mitch regarding Jay's assertion that he does not feel free to hold his own beliefs or ideas.

"Message Received"
Modern Family episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 22
Directed by Jeffrey Walker
Written by Steven Levitan
Production code 5ARG19
Original air date May 7, 2014
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Wedding"
List of Modern Family episodes

The episode was written by Steven Levitan and directed by Jeffrey Walker. Jesse Tyler Ferguson submitted this episode for consideration due to his nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.



Jay (Ed O'Neill) makes a sandwich for Manny (Rico Rodriguez), but Manny will not eat it because it contains pickles, which he dislikes. Jay decides that Manny must step out his comfort zone and forces him to stay at the table until he eats a pickle. However, Gloria (Sofía Vergara) manages to turn the tables on him when she obliges him to taste one of her mother's blood sausages, something with which he is not comfortable. Jay accepts, but in turn, encourages Gloria to confront her fear of petting Stella's belly. They all agree to do it at the same time and when they do, they are all disgusted but at the end of the day, Gloria pets Stella's belly when no one is around and Manny sneaks into the kitchen to eat a pickle.

Meanwhile, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould) find a box that contains their parents' old mementos. They decide to trick them when they discover that Claire (Julie Bowen) left a message on Phil's (Ty Burrell) old answering machine in which she said she was pregnant. They edit it and send it to Phil who gets the message during a golf party and believes that Claire is pregnant again. When he comes home, he and Claire discover that they have been manipulated by their kids and they decide to get revenge by having a fake fight to scare the children. The trick takes another turn when Claire seemingly says that she would have married her ex-boyfriend instead of Phil, something that upsets Phil, causing him to leave the fight. Claire comforts him by saying that he is always here to make her laugh, and she reminds him of the day when he and the kids created a soap fight when they had to wash the car and says she would not like to be anywhere else.

Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) wedding day is approaching, and they are thousands of dollars over their budget. They realize that they will have to sell their own prized items since they can not cut anything from their wedding. Cam has an antique belt buckle which turns out to worth only $20. Mitch, meanwhile, possesses a rare vintage Spider-Man comic book that is worth $5,000. However, he gets distracted by a spider web and drops the comic book into a puddle, destroying its value.

Mitch and Cam rush to Jay's house asking for a hair dryer to dry the comic, but it is too late. When they explain their problem to Jay and Gloria, Jay says that he does not have any people to invite to the wedding and that will save them some money. Mitch and Jay have an argument over this in which Jay ends up explaining that he is uncomfortable with his son's marriage and that while he has done his best to be supportive of his son, he does not feel able to express his own concerns without feeling judged. In anger, Mitch says to Jay that since he feels that way, he should not come to the wedding at all and leaves.

The episode ends with Haley, Alex, and Luke listening to an old message from Mitch, who explains to Phil that he is sorry that Jay did not have a better reaction to his upcoming wedding to Claire, even after Jay learned that Claire was pregnant. He also assures him that Jay will either change his mind or it will be "his loss."



In its original American broadcast, "Message Received" was watched by 8.55 million; up by 0.16 from the previous episode.[1]


"Message Received" received highly positive reviews.

Joshua Alston from The A.V. Club awarded the episode an A and wrote that the script was "the perfect combination of sweet and tart". He positively compared the episode to season five's Las Vegas episode, stating, "As much of a triumph as 'Las Vegas' was, it was also an total outlier. It was a classically executed sitcom, but wasn't classic Modern Family. 'Message Received' is the genuine article". Alston further called it "a solid contender for [the show's] all-time best episode".[2]

Madina Papadopoulos of Paste Magazine awarded the episode a 9.9/10, the highest of the season thus far. She opened her review by saying, "Modern Family took a sharp turn this week", and went on to praise the episode's emotional conclusion. She stated, "While comedy is meant to make you happy, it is best when it does not represent a happy world, but a real world. The scene between Jay and Mitch is a heartbreaking scene to watch, but its realism topped with the dialogue still manages to bring out laughter". She also labelled Mitch and Cam's wedding as "the TV wedding of the year".[3]

Leigh Raines of TV Fanatic awarded the episode a 4/5 and singled out the episode's final scene. She said, "Modern Family strives to be realistic and, well "modern," and that fight is something that could very realistically happen. It was an honest moment between Jay and Mitchell confronting something that was uncomfortable for them".[4]

However, Jordan Adler of We Got This Covered was less enthusiastic about the episode. He stated, "Average would be a perfect word to describe 'Message Received', an episode that squanders its interesting plots with contrived story beats".[5]


  1. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (May 8, 2014). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'The Middle', 'Arrow', 'American Idol', 'Modern Family', 'Law & Order: SVU' & 'Suburgatory' Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ Alston, Joshua (May 8, 2014). "Modern Family: "Message Received"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ Papadopoulos, Madina (May 8, 2014). "Modern Family Review: "Message Received"". Paste. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Raines, Leigh (May 7, 2014). "Modern Family Review: Throwback". TV Fanatic. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Adler, Jordan (May 7, 2014). "Modern Family Review: Message Received". We Got This Covered. Retrieved May 8, 2014. 

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