Big moments tend to bring people together, like the eclipse.
Jay wanted to experience it with his family because the opportunity wouldn't come around again for another 99 years, or so he thought.
No one wants your stupid science, Alex!Jay
On Modern Family Season 9 Episode 1, the Pritchett's, Dunphy's, and Pritchett-Tucker's take to the lake!
Jay arranged the trip so that, eventually, everyone would crowd all around him to see the spectacular event. It would be a moment they wouldn't forget, and he would be at the center of it, just as he likes. Or does he?
If this doesn't sound like the Jay we've come to know; it's because he's going through some things.
An old competitor of his recently passed away, and he can't stop reading all the wonderful things people are writing about him on his social media accounts. This makes him wonder what people will say about him when he's gone? How will he be remembered?
But while he worried about this, everyone else had worries of their own.
Alex is still seeing Ben, and things have progressed to the point where he's now vacationing with her family. We first see this when he joins them for breakfast in boxes and a mid-riff tee.
Alex fought for him to come, but once he's there, she tries to push him away. The girl knows a lot, but she is clueless when it comes to guys.
It's scary when you get close to someone; even harder to be vulnerable and trust them. No wonder she freaked out and ditched him for a random party.
I don't trust lakes. Where I come from this is where we dump drugs and dead bodies.Gloria
Relationships are complicated. One person who knows that very well is Hailey. Here, she drops some knowledge on her sister about why she's acting the way she is.
I like when Hailey gets a chance to be smart, even more, when it makes sense because it's something she's had experience with. I can't say the same about Luke, but I'll let it slide.
Alex takes their advice, and for a second it seems like she's growing in her relationship. When Ben floats up to the island, accidentally saving her, Alex admits and apologizes for the way she's been acting. See? Progress.
Alas, ten seconds later she ditches him again to catch a spot on the flamingo back to the boat. I guess growth will have to wait.
Claire and Phil are worried they're closer to their parent's stage of life than their kids. This is prompted by the realization that they got the same brochure as Jay.
Phil, we're them! We're the cover of the old people pamphlet.Claire
Although to be honest, yoga and cloud watching seems right up their alley.
Nonetheless, they set out to prove that they're still young and cool. Truth bomb: bird watching was not the way to do this.
They take turns throwing themselves off a cliff and blasting into the air on a jet pack trying to recapture their youth, but it's impossible. They can't go back any more than they can go forward. All they can do is accept and enjoy where they are now.
Mitchell: I ran into this guy who runs the bait shop.
Jay: Is that a gay bar?
The other storylines – Cam tries to avoid the sun, Mitchell runs into an old crush, Gloria hates the lake, and Hailey and Luke fight over a stranger – seem like mere hijinks in comparison.
Jay, Alex, Claire, and Phil seem to be dealing with deeper issues; the legacy you leave behind, moving forward in a relationship even when you're scared, and aging and accepting where you're headed in life.
It's all scary and unknown, but it's life. Everyone experiences these moments.
In the end -- of the episode, not life -- everyone comes together to sing Total Eclipse of the Heart; even Jay can't help but join in.
Modern Family is great when it comes to humor, but it's at its best when it combines that with true to life experiences and emotions.
If you missed this episode, you can watch Modern Family online via TV Fanatic.
Tiffany Staton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.