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The Incident (Modern Family)

"The Incident" is the fourth episode of the American family sitcom Modern Family. It premiered on American Broadcasting Company in the United States on October 14, 2009. The episode was written by co-creator and executive producer of Modern Family, Steven Levitan and directed by series main director, Jason Winer.[1]

"The Incident"
Modern Family episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by Jason Winer
Written by Steven Levitan
Production code 1ARG05
Original air date October 14, 2009
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Come Fly with Me"
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"Coal Digger"
List of Modern Family episodes

In the episode, Mitchell and Claire's mother visit the family months after she embarrassed Jay in front of his family on his wedding day. Phil and Claire try to judge whether Haley's boyfriend is acceptable to take her to a concert or not. Mitchell goes to his father's house to tell him that they are inviting his ex-wife to a party, but he does not tell Gloria. At the reunion, Gloria and Jay's ex-wife begin to fight, but Haley's boyfriend stops them.

"The Incident" received positive reviews from the television critics and received a 3.6/10 in the 18-49 demographic according to Nielsen Media Research.



DeDe (Shelley Long), Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) mother, stops in for a surprise visit and wants to try to make up with everyone that she offended during "the incident" that she caused at Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria's (Sofía Vergara) wedding. DeDe had become progressively drunk during the event, eventually having to be carried out, making a scene. In the meantime, Haley (Sarah Hyland) wants to attend a concert with her boyfriend, Dylan (Reid Ewing), but Claire and Phil (Ty Burrell) refuse to let her go.

Later, everything comes into play when the whole family meets at Claire's house for dinner. Dylan sings a song to prove that he is good enough to take Haley to the concert. While the song still sounds appropriate Phil and Claire are considering to let her go with him at the concert. When though Dylan starts singing the words "I just wanna do you, do you. Do you wanna do me, do me" and the parents see that Haley is smiling, they change their minds. The next morning everyone sings Dylan's song to themselves.


The episode "The Incident" was written by Steven Levitan and directed by Jason Winer. The episode is Steven Levitan's third writing credit after the "Pilot" and "The Bicycle Thief".[2] The episode is also Jason Winer's fourth directors credit after "Pilot", "The Bicycle Thief" and "Come Fly with Me.[3][4] It is also Shelley Long's first guest appearance on the show as Jay's Ex-wife and Mitchell & Claire's mother.[5]



In its original American broadcast, "The Incident" was viewed by an estimated 9.353 million households and a 5.8 rating/9% share Nielsen rating receiving a 3.6 rating/10% share in the 18-49 demographic coming second in its timeslot after Criminal Minds.[6]


"The Incident" was widely acclaimed by television critics. BuddyTV named this episode the 33rd best episode of 2009 saying "The matriarch of the family returned to cause trouble, but what sealed the deal on this episode's greatness was Dylan's performance of his catchy but wildly inappropriate song "In the Moonlight"[7] Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 9.0/10 saying it was "Outstanding" and ""The Incident" was a great episode with a far more personal storyline than generically learning responsibility with a new bike." referring to "The Bicycle Thief," the second episode of the first season"[8]

Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a positive review and praised the casting of Shelley Long saying "She hasn't lost even a bit of her comic chops, either. I'm hoping she agreed to come back and play this role over and over again."[9]

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A saying "Last week I wrote that Modern Family's sense of sky's-the-limit potential arises "not because it's starting from somewhere and going somewhere else -- but because it's got so much territory to explore right where it's plopped itself down." And this week it's like they've set out to prove me right."[10]

Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly remarked that "Just when you think Modern Family can’t get any funnier, it does. And I say that both about the series generally and last night’s episode specifically. "[11]

James Poniewozik of Time stated "With the arrival of Mom (Shelley Long) providing the excuse (of Claire and Mitchell acting as brother and sister), this episode added some layers to their family dynamic (though we had already heard that Claire had been a rebellious daughter)."[12]

Many critics have praised the casting of Shelley Long as DeDe. Michael Slezak said "The casting of Shelley Long as Jay’s passive-aggressive (except when violently aggressive) yet sexually reactivated ex-wife was a stroke of genius."[11] Robert Canning said "Long was a great choice for this sweet but aggravating character that could be as free-spirited as she was mean.".[8]


  1. ^ "Modern Family: The Incident Writers, Directors, and Crew". Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  2. ^ "Steven Levitan (I)-Filmography by TV series". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  3. ^ "Jason Winer - Filmography by TV series". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  4. ^ "Modern Family-The Incident". Yahoo TV. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  5. ^ "Shelley Long (I)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  6. ^ Seidman, Robert (October 15, 2009). "Wednesday broadcast finals: Glee, The Middle, Jay Leno tick up, CBS comedies, Mercy, L&O:SVU tick down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ "TV's 50 Best Episodes of 2009". Buddy TV. 
  8. ^ a b Canning, Robert (October 15, 2009). "Modern Family: "The Incident" Review". IGN. Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  9. ^ Hughes, Jason (October 15, 2009) Retrieved 2010-06-06 Archived January 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Bowman, Donna (October 14, 2009). "Modern Family: "The Incident"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 6, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Slezak, Michael (October 15, 2009). "'Modern Family' recap: Warning -- Shelley Long is a choking hazard!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ Poniewozik, James (October 15, 2009). "Modern Family Watch: Mother's Day". Entertainment Time. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 

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