Game Changer

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"Game Changer"
Modern Family episode
Game Changer (Modern Family).jpg
Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) trying to help Claire (Julie Bowen) to buy an iPad for Phil (Ty Burrell)
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 19
Directed by Kevin Sullivan
Teleplay by Joe Lawson
Alex Herschlag
Story by Vanessa McCarthy
Joe Lawson
Production code 1ARG21
Original air date March 31, 2010
Guest actors
Season 1 episodes
Episode chronology
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"Game Changer" is the 19th episode of the first season of Modern Family. It premiered on ABC on March 31, 2010. The episode's teleplay was written by Joe Lawson & Alex Herschlag from a story by Vanessa McCarthy & Joe Lawson. It was directed by Kevin Sullivan.

In the episode, it's Phil's birthday and Claire wants to buy him an Apple iPad, excited about buying a good gift for the first time. Meanwhile, Mitchell wants to toughen up, Cameron hears a neighbors marital difficulties over the baby monitor, and Jay faces off with Manny and Gloria over chess.[1]

The episode received positive reviews but was criticized for excessively promoting the iPad. "Game Changer" received an 18-49 Nielsen Rating of 3.8/7.


It is April 3 and Phil's (Ty Burrell) birthday coincides with the launch of the new Apple iPad. Being an early adopter and a technophile, Phil wants to wake up early to get in line for the product at the local Apple store. Claire (Julie Bowen) wants him to have a relaxing birthday so she takes it upon herself to wake up early and go buy the product. She does wake up early, but quickly falls back to sleep on the couch; it is not until the family wakes up and is making breakfast that she manages to sneak out of the house to get in line. However, the local store has sold out by the time she gets there, so she returns empty-handed. After being confronted by Phil, she makes it her mission to get one for the rest of the day. Phil decides to go to the batting cages to cool off and mistakenly believes a child's birthday party is for him - only adding to his unhappiness, so he eats a 'Game changer', (a pancake with bacon and golden syrup) to cheer himself up.

Meanwhile, Jay (Ed O'Neill) had purchased a new chess set for Phil from a Sky Mall catalog earlier. Jay decides to challenge Manny (Rico Rodriguez) to a game of chess, not knowing that Manny is a good player. Gloria (Sofía Vergara), not wanting Jay to be his usual bad loser, told Manny to throw the game. When they get ready to go over to Phil's, Jay keeps trying to get Manny to try a child's version of chess; insulted, Manny challenges Jay to a rematch. Manny states that if he wins, he gets Jay's watch. In four moves, Manny beats Jay and takes the watch.

Later, Gloria tells Jay she is also an excellent player; she lets Jay think he is better and when he believes he is on the verge of winning, she begins pouting and getting upset. Jay decides to call the game because he does not want an unhappy wife - Gloria later reveals that she would have beat him in two moves. She says to the camera "I'm an excellent chess player, but a better wife".

The night before Phil's birthday, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) heard a man's voice coming from Lily's room. Fearing a burglar, Mitchell freezes. They then discover that there was no burglar; just a signal accidentally received from a neighboring house by the baby monitor. The next day, Mitchell asks Jay to help him toughen up so that if it actually happens in the future, he can take more appropriate action.

Cameron keeps listening to conversations from the baby monitor and discovers that there is some drama going on over at the neighbor's house. Learning that a misunderstanding may cause a divorce, he decides to tell the wife the truth before anything bad happens. Mitchell, attempting to help Claire with her mission to pick up an Apple iPad, gets her and himself thrown out of a line at another Apple store.

Claire comes home without an iPad. However, Luke (Nolan Gould) managed to convince a man online that his father was dying and his last wish was an iPad before he passed - so the man brought a second iPad over and gave it to Luke to give to Phil. That night, during the party, she brings out the iPad to a delighted Phil.

In the end, Mitchell and Cameron were listening to the couple on how they thought Cameron was an angel, but Cameron quickly turned it off when the couple started saying he may have been a creepy pervert.


The episode was written by Joe Lawson & Alex Herschlag, Joe Lawson's third writing credit and Alex's first writing credit. It was directed by Kevin Sullivan.[2]

The episode includes guest stars Kevin Fry-Bowers as the security guard at the Apple Store, Jason Antoon as Clark, Whitney Claire Kaufman as Sarah, Tyrel Jackson Williams as Little Phil, Harrison White as the postman and Zak Boggan as the kid outside the batting cage.[1] Although the Apple iPad was prominently featured, Apple Inc. did not pay for product placement within this episode.[3]



In its original American broadcast, "Game Changer" came second in its timeslot after American Idol being viewed by 9.34 million viewers and an 18-49 Nielsen Rating of 3.8 rating and an 11% share beating last week's 3.7. The show was the 4th most viewed show of the night.[4] The episode ranked 20 in the weekly viewership ranking sixth for ABC and ranked 8 in the 18-49 Nielsen Rating ranking 3rd on ABC in the rating.[5]


The episode received positive reviews.

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode an 8 saying it was "impressive" and "though "Game Changer" lacked creativity when it came to storylines, the likeability of these characters kept the tone fun and made the episode enjoyable."[6]

Lesley Savage of Entertainment Weekly gave the episode positive review saying: "It’s the little things that make this show so clever.".[7]

Donna Bowman from The A.V. Club gave the episode an A-, saying "Even though there were funny moments in the other two stories, Phil's journey from excitement to near-catatonic resignation ("honey, it's okay, I don't feel things anymore," he reassures Claire) to euphoric rebirth was brilliantly played"[8]

Joel Keller of The TV Squad criticized the episode for product placement of the iPad saying "Look, I'm not an Apple hater; I love my iPod Touch, and one day I may convert from being a PC guy to a Mac guy. But this company has enough buzz from tech media types who get the vapors every time Jobs dons his black mock turtleneck to introduce a new product, and it's not like they don't already have a monstrous advertising budget. Do they really need to infect our favorite shows, too?"[9]


  1. ^ a b "Listings: Modern Family". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  2. ^ "Game Changer Writers, Directors, and Crew". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  3. ^ Joe Flint (2010-04-01). "'Modern Family' gives some free love for the iPad". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  4. ^ Robert Seidman (2010-04-01). "TV Ratings: Human Target Up; American Idol Down; "Minute" Repeat Is Strong for NBC". TV By the Numbers. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  5. ^ Seidman, Robert (April 6, 2010). > "TV Ratings Top 25: Dancing; "Idol" & "Lost" Top Weekly Broadcast Charts". TV by the Numbers. 
  6. ^ Robert Canning (2010-04-01). "Modern Family: "Game Changer" Review". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  7. ^ Lesley Savage (2010-04-01). "'Modern Family' recap: Brought to you by the iPad". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  8. ^ Donna Bowman (2010-04-01). ""Game Changer" : Modern Family". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  9. ^ Joel Keller (2010-04-01). "'Modern Family' Was One Long iPad Commercial Last Night". Retrieved 2010-04-02. 

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