Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Tableau Vivant (Modern Family)

"Tableau Vivant" is the 23rd episode of the third season of the American sitcom Modern Family, and the series' 71st episode overall. It aired on May 16, 2012. The episode was written by Elaine Ko, Jeffrey Richman and Bill Wrubel, and directed by Gail Mancuso.

"Tableau Vivant"
Modern Family episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 23
Directed by Gail Mancuso
Written by Elaine Ko
Jeffrey Richman
Bill Wrubel
Production code 3ARG23
Original air date May 16, 2012
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
"Baby on Board"
List of Modern Family episodes



At the Dunphy's house no one seems to be able to sleep, each for their own reasons. Luke (Nolan Gould) cannot wait for the hero medal he is going to receive the next day at school because he put out a fire that he started, but no one knows that part except for Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Alex (Ariel Winter) is nervous about her art project in school because she wants to impress the art teacher who after a year he does not even know her name, which is something Alex does not face often with her teachers. Meanwhile, Phil (Ty Burrell) is trying to find a way to tell his brother-in-law, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), that he is fired from his part-time job at the real estate agency.

The next morning Phil is going to Mitch's house to tell him about his dismissal while Mitch also tries to tell him that he does not want to continue working at the estate agency. Mitch bails out and does not say anything, and Phil believes that Mitch understood what he was trying to tell him, i.e. that Mitch was fired. When Mitch appears at the agency later, Phil, having no other choice, finally tells him. When Mitch tries to leave the office, the elevator breaks down with the doors partially open, though not enough for him to fit through. He is stuck in the elevator for two hours knowing he has been fired. The idea of losing his job does not sit well with him since, as he later explains to Cam (Eric Stonestreet), he has never been fired before in his life.

Jay (Ed O'Neill) takes Gloria (Sofía Vergara) to a diner to show her that they named a sandwich there after him. When Gloria tries it, she says that she does not like it and that she is also jealous of a waitress of the Diner, Maxine (Beth Grant), because Maxine seems to know more about Jay's life than she does.

Meanwhile, Cam has a theory about how a parent should discipline their kids: that they should never say "no" but redirect the kids to another activity. Claire (Julie Bowen) disagrees with that theory and tries to prove Cam that sometimes a parent should say "no". Cam does not like the fact that Claire is judging his parenting skills.

After all these conflicts during the day, the whole family has to participate in Alex's living art display of Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving painting Freedom from Want. During the live display, everyone is talking about their frustrations with each other during the day while trying to be still at the same time. That leads Alex to get a B− on the project, but she is happy since at least the art teacher, who previously called her "Alice", finally learned her name.

The episode ends at the diner where all the family gathers to try the sandwich that was named after Jay, whereas Jay thought that no one would appear after everything that happened during the day.



In its original American broadcast, "Tableau Vivant" was watched by 9.36 million; down 1.22 million from the previous episode.[1]


Reviews for this episode were generally positive.

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave an A- grade. She said "I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What Modern Family can do so well is create an escalating snowball of farce that, when everyone ends up in the same place, unleashes a storm of comic possibilities. This episode may not be the pinnacle of that style, but it unfolds with a sense of ease, confidence, economy, and generosity that any sitcom would be proud to match. I mean, look at that beautifully underplayed closing tableau. That’s what it’s for, after all. Just look at it".[2]

Leigh Raines of TV Fanatic gave a 4.5/5 grade. About his favorite part of the show he said: "Hands down my favorite part of this episode was small, but perfect. When Haley walked in after a night out and thought Phil was reprimanding her but really he was practicing his speech to Mitchell, I thought she was so busted."[3]

Wyner C of Two Cents TV also gave a good review to the episode. "I laughed so much during this episode. I’ve always said, the show is best when the family is together."[4]

Michael Adams of 411mania rated the episode with 7/10 giving a most mixed review. "All in all, it was a good episode, but as it was one of the final episodes of the season and they have some story lines to wrap up, they should have put this episode somewhere in the middle of the season."[5]


  1. ^ Bibel, Sara (May 17, 2012). "Wednesday Final Ratings:'American Idol', 'Criminal Minds', 'Off Their Rockers' Adjusted Up; 'Don't Trust the B' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Bowman, Donna (May 16, 2012). "Tableau Vivant". The A.V. Club. 
  3. ^ Raines, Leigh (May 17, 2012). "Modern Family Review: A Modern Day Normal Rockwell". TV Fanatic. 
  4. ^ Wyner C (May 17, 2012). "Modern Family – Recap & Review – Tableau Vivant". Two Cents TV. 
  5. ^ Adams, Michael (May 16, 2012). "Modern Family Review - 3.23 'Tableau Vivant'". 411mania. 

External linksEdit