Little Bo Bleep

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"Little Bo Bleep"
Modern Family episode
Little Bo Bleep (Modern Family).jpg
Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) flees out of the church giggling with Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) after she says the F-word
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 13
Directed byChris Koch
Written byCindy Chupack
Production code3ARG14
Original air dateJanuary 18, 2012
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Modern Family (season 3)
List of Modern Family episodes

"Little Bo Bleep" is the 13th episode of the third season of the American sitcom Modern Family. It premiered on ABC on January 18, 2012. The episode was written by Cindy Chupack and directed by Chris Koch.

"Little Bo Bleep" despite the controversy around Lily's (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) plotline, having a toddler cursing, received positive reviews. The creator of the show, Steven Levitan, made it clear that Anderson-Emmons never really said "f-word"; instead she said "fudge".[1]


The whole family is invited to a wedding and needs to be ready for the event but first they have to deal with what they have to do for the day. Claire (Julie Bowen) has a debate against Duane Bailey (David Cross) for her run for town council; Jay (Ed O'Neill) worries about Stella's (Brigitte) suicidal behavior and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) have to deal with Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) and her new habit of using the "f-word".

Claire decided to run for town council (episode: Hit and Run) and she has to prepare for the upcoming debate against Duane, who is running for his seventh time. Phil (Ty Burrell) and the kids want to help her get ready, especially after a newspaper critic writes that people find her "angry and unlikable". They conduct a mock interview in the family living room, during which they all try to make her lose "bad" habits such as rolling her eyes, pointing her finger and being sarcastic.

At the Pritchett house, Jay worries about his dog Stella because she keeps jumping into the pool without knowing how to swim. He blames Gloria (Sofía Vergara) for Stella's suicidal behavior since Gloria does not love the dog and always screams at her.

Lily is going to be the flower girl at the wedding and Cam and Mitch open her dress box. The blue dress, which lights up, is not as good as they expected. Out of nowhere, Lily says the "f-word", causing Cam to giggle and leave the room. Mitch wants to tell her that it is a bad word but Cam suggests that they have to not pay any attention to it because she will keep saying it.

At the debate, things do not go really well for Claire. Duane brings up the incident Phil had on Valentine's Day when he went to a wrong hotel room waiting for Claire. Phil tries to defend himself but he just makes things worse and ends up getting songified on YouTube.

After the debate, the whole family meets at the wedding. When Claire and Phil arrive, Cam and Mitch pretend that they did not watch the debate on TV. Cam and Mitch explain that Lily is not allowed to talk at all in order to prevent her saying the "f-word" in public. When the ceremony starts, Cam starts crying because he always does so at weddings. Lily sees him and knowing that he laughs when she says the word, she blurts it out. The whole church starts laughing, including Cam who picks her up and runs out of the church apologizing.

The episode ends with Jay putting a life vest on Stella so she can swim in the pool without drowning. Stella immediately goes to the filter of the pool and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) finds out that the reason she was jumping in the pool all along was to reach her stuck doggie toy. Jay finds it funny but Gloria does not.



In its original American broadcast, "Little Bo Bleep" was watched by 11.89 million; down 0.23 from the previous episode.[2]

Reviews & Controversy[edit]

The episode was met with some controversy for the portrayal of a little girl swearing, although Aubrey Anderson-Emmons never actually said the word on camera. She was asked to say "fudge" during filming.[1]

Despite the negative reaction before the episode aired, the episode received positive reviews, with almost everyone saying that Lily's storyline is something that happened in almost all the families who have a toddler as a member and many of them agreed that the highlight of the episode was Claire's plot and the debate.

Leigh Raines from TV Fanatic rated the episode with 5/5 and said that this episode made her see again why Modern Family is an award winning show. "Great post-GoldenGlobes episode for the Modern Family crew. For me it was chock full of amazing quotes, not including Lily's little slip up." About the controversy she mentions: "Modern Family has always prided itself on being realistic and representing true-to-life situations. So why should it gloss over something as basic and common as the fact that little kids sometimes mimic bad words they hear their parents sa?. [sic] And just like Cam did, sometimes people laugh! If people are being that uptight one little curse word, sorry, but you're watching the wrong show."[3]

Christine N. Ziemba of Paste Magazine gave the episode 8/10 stating that the episode wasn't "as awesome as it could be" and that " opportunity was missed by the writer Cindy Chupack (who also wrote the episode “Express Christmas”) on a real story". On the controversy: "Modern Family is probably one of the least offensive shows on television right now. [...] Next time, if a toddler saying a faux f-word gets your panties in a bunch, we suggest the radical protest move of turning off the television."[4]

Maris Kreizman of Vulture gave a good review to the episode stating that it was "one of the strongest of an uneven third season" and that there was not controversy on it, regarding Lily's storyline.[5]

Rachel Stein from Television Without Pitty named the episode one of the best yet with Lily's plotline to be the weakest one.[6]

Verne Gay of Newsday also gave a good review to the episode saying that it was "one of the funniest half hours of television all year". ""Little Bo Bleep" was a brilliant episode; nothing remotely offensive about it, and the message was pretty clear: Watch what you say around toddlers, and certainly don't laugh if they say something they shouldn't have said."[7]

Adam Reisinger mentions on his blog that "Little Bo Bleep" is "one of the best and most true to life in terms of raising a toddler." He closes his blog saying: "I'm sure even after seeing the episode, there will be some people who complain about a storyline that has a two-year-old uttering a profanity, but those are the kind of people who are just looking to stir up shit. In reality, Modern Family handled the storyline well, made it funny, and ended up with one of the best episodes of the season."[8]

James Poniewozik talked about the controversy saying that it "will blow over quickly" and that the best part of the episode was Claire's plot. "...if not for the controversy, I probably would hardly have paid attention to this subplot. For my money the best part of the episode was Claire’s preparation and debate for the council election, which featured some fine physical comedy from Julie Bowen as Claire physically fought her instinct to roll her eyes and point her finger."[9]


  1. ^ a b Nededog, Jethro (January 18, 2012). "'Modern Family's' Lily Curses: Viewers Sound Off on the F-Bomb Controversy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Gorman, Bill (January 19, 2012). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Modern Family' Adjusted Up; 'Are You There, Chelsea?,' 'The Middle' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers.
  3. ^ Raines, Leigh (January 18, 2012). "Modern Family Review: Dropping the F-Bomb". TV Fanatic.
  4. ^ Ziemba, Christine (January 19, 2012). "Modern Family Review: "Little Bo Bleep" (Episode 3.13)". Paste Magazine.
  5. ^ Kreizman, Maris (January 19, 2012). "Modern Family Recap: Naughty Words". Vulture.
  6. ^ Stein, Rachel (January 19, 2012). "Why Last Night's Modern Family Was Season 3′s Best Episode Yet". Television Without Pitty.
  7. ^ Gay, Verne (January 19, 2012). "Oh, fudge: 'Modern Family's' Little Bo Bleep was funny". Newsday.
  8. ^ Reisinger, Adam (January 19, 2012). "Modern Family "Little Bo Bleep" Reaction". You Only Blog Once.
  9. ^ Poniewozik, James (January 19, 2012). "Modern Family Watch: What the Bleep Was the Big Deal?". Time Entertainment.

External links[edit]