The Bicycle Thief (Modern Family)

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"The Bicycle Thief"
Modern Family episode
Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) meeting their new neighbor, Desiree (Brandy Ledford)
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Jason Winer
Written by Bill Wrubel
Production code 1ARG02
Original air date September 30, 2009
Guest actors
  • Brandy Ledford (Desiree)
  • Julia Lehman (Danielle)
  • Lindsey Stoddart (Helen)
Season 1 episodes
Episode chronology
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List of Modern Family episodes

"The Bicycle Thief" is the second episode of the ABC series Modern Family. It originally premiered on American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States on September 30, 2009. The episode was written by Bill Wrubel and directed by Jason Winer.

In the episode, Jay (Ed O'Neill) tries to show his stepson he can be a good father; Phil (Ty Burrell) tries to teach his son a lesson by stealing his bike, but gets in lots of trouble when he discovers he got the wrong bike; Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) put Lily (Ella Hiller/Jaden Hiller) in Day Care Center and try to act straight.

"The Bicycle Thief" received positive reviews from critics mostly towards Ty Burrell's performance as Phil Dunphy. The episode was viewed by more than 9 million viewers and dropped 4 tenths from last week's episode, "Pilot" in the 18-49 demographic tying with the Criminal Minds in the timeslot according Nielsen Media Research.


The question of the episode in the teaser concerns being a good dad.

Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen) have gone on a bikeride with Luke (Nolan Gould), who is riding his sister's bike because he isn't responsible enough to own a bike. While the Dunphys are riding, they come across Desiree (Brandy Ledford), a newly single mother who has a child at Luke's school. Phil flirts with her, to Claire's disgust. Phil decides to buy Luke a brand new green bike after Jay ridicules Luke riding a girl's bike. Phil comes across a bike that is similar to Luke's new bike and immediately assumes Luke left the bike unlocked - Phil jumps on the bike to take it home, feeling that Claire will be upset with Phil not listening to her. Phil comes across Desiree again while riding the bike and sets it down in order to help her get into her home - she had locked herself out. When returning to the bike, Phil finds it gone. Phil visits the bike store to buy a replacement. He also actually buys bike insurance this time; earlier he had declined saying insurance was 'for suckers'. While confronting Luke he learns that Luke never left the bike. When trying to take the replacement bike to the store, he is confronted by Claire who says he should not be sneaky and she forgives him - only to have Desiree show up with the second bike, saying her neighbor had placed it in her garage while Phil was in her bedroom. Phil eventually places one of the replacement bikes back in the spot from where he had stolen the second bike. He is confronted by a pair of kids who claim the bike and runs away.

The second plot line begins at the Delgado-Pritchett residence where Jay is helping Manny (Rico Rodriguez) set up a fan they bought. Jay is planning to go to a villa in the wine country with Gloria (Sofia Vergara) for the weekend while Manny visits Disneyland with his birth-father. Jay refuses to read the instructions or listen to Manny while he reads them and gets shocked twice. Gloria revels in the fact that Jay and Manny are spending time together, likening them to a Colombian comedy duo. Manny and Jay have an argument after one of the blades falls off the fan causing Manny to shout that he wished Jay had never married Gloria. Later, as Jay is getting ready for his trip to the wine country, he gets a call from Manny's father. He is winning at craps and does not want to leave the table, disgusting Jay. Going outside to tell Manny, he makes up an excuse saying that Manny's father is not going to be able to make it due to flight delays. He then tells Manny that the limousine originally planned for Jay and Gloria's trip was actually sent by Manny's father to take all three of them to Disneyland.

The third plot line involves Cameron and Mitchell who are going to playschool with Lily. When they find out that all the other kids are much more advanced than Lily they decide to steal some blocks that another child has stacked. When the employee informs them of the CCTV cameras and that they can have a copy of Lily stacking the blocks, they quickly leave.

Jay presents the final moments of the episode, answering the opening question by saying that the biggest part of being a good dad, is simply being there.

Cultural references[edit]

  • When Jay sees Luke riding his sister's old bike he says that he looks like a Little Bo Peep, referring to the popular nursery rhyme.[1]
  • Gloria says that Manny's father is taking him to Disneyland and later Manny says that his dad will take him on Space Mountain, referring to the space-themed indoor steel roller coaster that's located in Disneyland.[1]
  • Jay mentions that Manny thinks of his dad as Superman, the fictional comic superhero.[1]
  • Gloria refers to Jay and Manny as Salazar and El Oso, referring to a comedy from Colombia.[1]
  • Cam talks with a mother at the toddler play class about movies and she mentions Mamma Mia! that featured Meryl Streep. When the mother says that she doesn't think Streep was the right choice for the part, Cam says in a monologue that Streep could play Batman and still be the right choice. He also mentions different movies that featured Streep such as Kramer vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada and Sophie's Choice.[1]


Ty Burrell's performance of Phil Dunphy was praised by critics.


In its original American broadcast, "The Bicycle Thief" was viewed by an estimated by 9.993 million households and got a of 3.8 rating/10% share in the 18-49 demographic tying for first in its timeslot with Criminal Minds going down 4 tenths from the pilot episode according to the Nielsen Media Research.[2]


"The Bicycle Thief" received positive reviews.

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 7.2 saying it was "Decent" and "Though the tone was still fun, Wednesday night's outing felt a bit too comfortable, as if we were watching an episode from season three."[3]

James Poniewozik of Time said "whether the characters are one-joke specials or if they have more dimensions to them. So far, with its second episode, Modern Family is meeting that test just fine."[4]

Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a positive review saying "Its brilliance in its simplicity, brilliantly executed. Not only did we get so many funny moments throughout, but if we paid close attention, we learned several lessons about life and parenthood between the laughs.".[5]

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A- saying "This episode is even better than the pilot. It deepens the neuroses that drive the characters, it solidifies the style, and it differentiates itself nicely -- in the kinds of stories it tells and the tone and method of the telling -- from Arrested Development, the touchstone for most of the descriptions of the pilot."[6]

TV Fanatic gave the episode a good review and remarked "On last night's Modern Family, each of the fathers of the family were asked what it means to be a great dad and it led to three great stories."[7]

Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly said "The good news about Modern Family‘s hilarious second episode is that it proved the show isn’t going to just be a one-hit wonder."[8]

Many of the critics have praised Ty Burrell's performance of Phil Dunphy. Michael Slezak said "MVP for this episode, which might as well have been titled “The Sins of the Father,” was definitely Ty Burrell’s Phil, who got himself into all kinds of bizarre trouble by going against his wife’s wishes and buying a bike for his irresponsible son."[8] Robert Canning said "Ty Burrell as Phil has some great nervous comedic timing and the scene where his wife introduces the new neighbor was the highlight of this plotline.".[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Optimus the Ninja. "Season 1 Episode 2: "The Bicycle Thief"". Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ Robert Seidman (2009-10-01). "TV Ratings, Glee rises to a 3.3, Criminal Minds to a 3.8; Eastwick drops to a 2.3 in finals". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  3. ^ a b Canning, Robert (October 1, 2009) IGN Retrieved May 30, 2010[dead link]
  4. ^ Poniewozik, James (October 1, 2009). "The Morning After: Family Bonding". Entertainment Time. Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ Hughes, Jason (October 1, 2009) TV Squad Retrieved 2010-06-05[dead link]
  6. ^ Bowman, Donna (September 30, 2009). "Modern Family: "The Bicycle Thief"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ Hochberger, Eric (October 1, 2009). "Modern Family Recap: "The Bicycle Thief"". TV Fanatic. 
  8. ^ a b Slezak, Michael (October 1, 2009). "'Modern Family' recap: Good dads go bad". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 

External links[edit]