Modern Family S10E21 Script

Commencement (2019)


Oh, boy. Is it already the first day of livestock auction season again?

It's the same day every year, Mitchell.

A fortnight after the first ripe tomato comes in.

And seriously, this is what passes for auction-calling these days?

Is it possible you're being a tad harsh?

You know, when you've been at the top of your field, Greater Bud County Auction-Calling Champion three years running, it's hard to see anything but the inadequacies.

It's why Baryshnikov couldn't watch others dance.

What? He was Artistic Director of...

How long have you lived in this house?

It's gonna wind up being some pig named Baryshnikov or some damn thing.

So, how was your trumpet lesson? It was amazing.

Yeah, these sessions just have really changed my life.

Technically, uh, not a lie.

I started taking trumpet lessons two years ago.

But then I noticed the place next door was offering massages for the same price, so, you know.

And I felt bad relaxing while Cam was solo-parenting Lily, but we were both spending time with an Asian woman who walked all over us.

You always smell like lavender when you come back from that place.

Yeah, it's the valve oil for the, you know, the tooting buttons. Oh.

We should probably hit the road soon. The high school graduation's in an hour.

Oh, it's so humiliating being the Vice Principal at these things.

It's just a ceremonial position where you have to sit behind Principal Brown, politely clapping while he gets to set the course of history.

It could be fun with my dad giving the commencement address though.

I got a peek at his note cards, and I don't want to give anything away, but the young kid who boarded the bus with a hair full of Brylcreem and a cardboard suitcase full of dreams, it was him.


I have to take this. It's Superintendent Pierce.

Hello, good sir. To what do I owe this honor?

Oh, no. That's horrible.

Principal Brown got into a car accident!

Which means, as next in the line of succession, I get to preside over today's graduation.

This is why senior administration officials never travel together.

(HUMMING) Your glee at another man's misfortune should trouble me, but there's also something sort of sexy about it.

Well, power is an aphrodisiac.

Oh, maybe later you could be the principal and I could be the student who's a few credits short.

A bad, bad boy who needs to be taught right from wrong because I grew up in a broken home where social workers and constant fights about money were just...

Okay, well, now I'm just sad.



Can we switch seats? I'm right under a vent.

This is not good for my instrument.

So nice that you're taking this speech so seriously.

When you did Mitch and Cam's wedding toast, you had your mouth full of cashews.

Hey, pay attention to your brother. You got him into karate.

Not on purpose.

I just showed him a few Pink Panther movies.

Joe? Joe?

I don't want to play this Inspector Clouseau and Cato game anymore.

It's not that I'm scared, it's just I'm a little busy...


He's a little psycho, which we must never show him, by the way.

And sorry if I'm distracted. It's Cut Day at CalArts.

Half the class isn't being asked back.

Manny, my mother's intuition tells me that you have nothing to worry about.

It's just so cruel.

I'm halfway to a playwriting degree and a minor in mask-making and they're just gonna throw me out on the street with no way to support myself?

As a wise man will say in about two hours, "Be grateful for the rocks life rolls in your path, "for one day you'll see them as stepping stones."

I had that in my "maybe" pile. Trust yourself, Jay.


Oh, God. It's an email from school.

I don't think I can read this in front of people.

(JOE GRUNTS) GLORIA: Let's go, Joe.




I did it!

I did it! Yes!


Did my mom bribe Sensei Ron?

(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) I knew you could do it, Joe!

My mother's intuition told me that you had nothing to worry about.

And if she bribed Sensei Ron, who else did she bribe?

Did I even deserve this?

PHILIP: Do you remember when grocery shopping was boring?

CLAIRE: I really don't.

As a parent, you don't get a lot of good, clean, guilt-free victories.

That's why it's hard not to feel pretty damn good about ourselves today.

Because this afternoon, we are going to watch our daughter, Alex, graduate...

With honors...

...from the world-renowned Caltech.

(SINGING) When the Caltech Beavers face you at sports Prepare to relinquish the ball Their best minds weren't focused on the fight song.


I just can't stop smiling at this picture of Alex in her cap and gown.

It's so surreal that one of our kids could do something so amazing.

I love you both.

So, you two, grab champagne and flowers for Alex.

We'II... We'll get some cigars to give to Jay.



Oh, my God, it's Skip Woosnum. Have you seen him since he fired you?

Once, at a listing.

I tried to pretend I was a 3D cutout of myself to avoid talking to him.

But you know what? Today I want to talk to him.

I think I'll let ol' Skip know I have a daughter graduating from Caltech.

No, honey, we are not the kind of parents who make ourselves look good by bragging about our kids.

Then why did we even have them, Claire?

Are we really not gonna crow about it when one of our kids finally did something we can be proud of...

I love you both very much.

I'm comfortable being the hot one.

Another record month?

Well, thank you, you're the greatest butler on Earth.

Oh, I gotta run. Phil!

Skip. You son of a gun, how the hell are you?

Great, great. Business is better than ever.

How about you? Did you finally get real cutouts?

I don't know what you're talking about. Mine are so realistic and 3D, you must have been laughing at one of them like an idiot.

How crazy is it we ran into each other shopping, huh?

Say, how are your kids?

Terrific, yeah. June just took a job at the Container Store.

Impressive. I have a kid that's interested in space as well.

Considering a job at NASA, actually.

Yeah, he looks like he's got the right stuff.

(LAUGHING) No, I was talking about my daughter.

Hey, Dad. Dad, guess what?

The twins started kicking the second I picked up booze.

(LAUGHING) They're my kids, right?

My other daughter.

Okay, I'm doing a little thing about following your dreams in mine.

Do you have anything like that in yours?

I say "Follow your passions."

Okay, yeah. That's different enough.

Okay. Something fishy is going on over here.

I'm gonna go shake some trees, see what falls.

Looking lovely today, Vice Principal Tucker.

Cut the choir-boy act, Pitkowski.

You don't like the way I'm talking to you?

Who are you gonna complain to? No one!

Because I'm the acting principal, clothed in immense power.

Wait, what is... No!

I bend faster. "Jay Pritchett Owl Killer?"

What the hell is this?


The year was 1972.

I landed a whale. Every closet on a Carnival Cruise ship.

To make the numbers work, I needed a lot of cedar fast and cheap.

I ended up cutting down the forest that happened to be the last habitat of the golden-speckled owl.

You know, nobody talks about all the mice I saved. Nope.

Just the owls.

Are you all planning some sort of protest?

Well, that ain't happening on my watch.

Now go take your seats!

"Owl Hitler?"

What the hell is this picture? I never strangled an owl!

Is it too much for Dylan to let me know where he is?

My water could literally break any minute.

Am I okay sitting here, or am I in a SeaWorld splash zone situation?

Claire, your old high school nemesis, Ashley Walls, did she have a daughter?

Uh, I don't think so, why?

Well, that woman over there looks just like Ashley, but that can't be. She looks half your beauty.

Ashley Walls. She outdid me at everything.

Homecoming Queen, field hockey captain, and the summer before we went away to college, she beat me out for an internship at Pritchett's Closets.


Hi. I want to say... Ashley?

Yes. How are you?

Hi. Ashley Walls-Carnegie. Philip Humphrey Dunphy.

So, what have you been up to, Ashley?

Well, I'm a personal injury lawyer.

I have a buddy that makes bank from that.

He's not a lawyer.

He just tries to get nice cars to hit him.

Yeah, he's just kidding.

No, I'm not, Mom. In fact... Here, have a candy.

That was rude. I just ran into my old health teacher and she said she always expected to see me pregnant at graduation.

Congratulations. Oh, thanks. Twins.

Sorry, I'd be a lot happier about it if I could track their father down.


Oh, look, it's your brother, Mitch.

Now, he was always a little uptight, wasn't he?

Well, he was in high school, but now he's just the most...

Okay, you have one job today, young lady, okay? To be supportive.

If your dad makes a joke, you will laugh.

If he makes a speech, you will what? Applaud.

Right. I'm gonna go find my seat, but it was great catching up with you, Claire.

Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm.


No one would blame you if you mentioned you have a daughter graduating from Caltech today.

(SIGHS) Yeah. Honey, the moment has passed.

I'd need a pretty good reason to just go waltzing over there...

She forgot her program. Yes.

Hey, Claire, you know how you're my go-to gal... Busy.

Hey, Phil, you know how you're my go-to guy on stuff?


I suppose, against all odds, we've become best friends.

Sure. So, apparently, some of the students are angry that I'm giving the commencement address. Why?

Who knows why their sick minds do anything?

Gotta say, though, it feels good to be hating hippies again.

Anyway, would you mind giving this place a sweep?

See if you notice something suspicious.

Consider it done.

Hey, what do you got there?

You kids got something under those robes you want to show me?

Manny, you passed the cuts, so why aren't you in a better mood?

You bribed my dean to get me past the cut, didn't you?

I would never do something like that.

Oh, bravo. If Lisa Wagner pulled out that performance, maybe she wouldn't be driving back to her parents' house with a trunk full of handmade puppets and a suddenly very uncertain future.

I didn't bribe anyone.

I don't know why you're talking such crazy things.

Because I saw you bribe Sensei Ron.

Wait. You bribed Sensei Ron?

So, this is just a lie?

Are there others? Who the hell even am I?


Oh, my God.


(LAUGHS) Nice try, kemosabes.

Oh... Oh.




Hey, Ash, you left your program. Thank you.

Wow, it's wild to think where all these kids are gonna end up, right?

I mean, there are so many great schools.

In fact, our... Oh, is something wrong?

Our daughter joined ISIS. Oh, God.

(CRYING) The government said she's not an American anymore.

There's a van always parked in front of our house.

(CRYING) Oh, God, I'm so sorry...

(IN A SQUEAKY VOICE) Did Claire tell you our daughter's a genius?

And so, graduates, look to your left and to your right.

It's a simple key chain with a tiny cowboy hat charm on it.

If you see it, please pass it forward.

All right, and now on to our commencement speaker.

He is a pillar of the community, an entrepreneur and closeteer, Mr. Jay Pritchett.


Commencement. "C"for courage, "O"for opportunity, the first "M..."


Disaster had struck. But did I panic?


No one chooses to be a war-time principal, but we're the ones history remembers.

"Pick one," they all said, "closets or blinds."


Mitchell, he's tanking my graduation.

I'm cutting him off and moving right to the "in memoriam" section.

Well, that would be less depressing.

Problem is, the band just walked out in solidarity.

Here. Wh... What?

Mitchell, you can't have an "in memoriam" without music.

That's just a bummer.

Take it. Oh.

Hoot all you want, but that Brylcreem kid was me!

Yes, hi, thank you. Thank you. Jay Pritchett, everyone.

I don't know about you, but I feel like getting out there and taking on the world, huh?

And now, let's remember those dolphins we lost this year.

Mitchell, play something. Play anything. Something with the most gravitas.

You know, for a person who last touched a trumpet two years ago, I think I sounded pretty good.


(FEEDBACK WHINES) I'm done. I'm done.

All right. Wow, that is a lot of deceased for one year.

We should probably have the police check into that.

And now, before passing out diplomas, I would like to make, sort of, a personal gesture to this graduating class.

As these balloons fill the sky, know that each one of them represents a student who has personally inspired me and filled me with hope for a better tomorrow.



Acting Principal...

Protesters hacked into our sprinkler system.

It's set to go off in five minutes. We have to postpone the graduation.

And miss my chance of becoming principal? Not a chance.

Well, no one can read 400 names in five minutes.


All that training, all those parties missed, all those auctions attended, were for this moment right here, right now.

Students, hi! When you hear your name, please proceed to the stage and grab your diploma.

Nelly Abrishami, Allison Acosta, Frieda Alafary, Scott "The Skunk"Albanese, Galanay, Richard Thompson Allen, Lavaria Aminu, Larry Annecone, Darla Arleto, Daniel Dey Aronson...

I was gonna make it. And then, I hit the Polish names.

- Czeslaw Vladerisa... Chkowsky. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING)

Wladyslaw Vlad... Nisky? Yeah.


- Myra Zorinski... (SCREAMING)

Okay, all right, all right!

Okay, if we steer clear of Dad and Cam, we've got a chance of blending into the mob when they turn violent.

JAY: What the hell is this?

Okay, well, apparently, when those owls hacked into the sprinkler system, it was school-wide.

They're not letting anyone into the parking structure.

Oh, no.

I hope this doesn't mean we're gonna have to miss the second graduation of the day.

D YLAN: How lucky is that?

Me cruising by with an Uber fare right when you called.

Yeah, very lucky. Very good.

Well, this is you, Gerald.

Let's have today be the day you stop playing for your dad and start playing for Gerald.

(DOOR SHUTS) That kind of reminds me, I'm sorry I lied about the trumpet lessons.

Oh, please. Not the worst part of my day.

I'm realizing now that Principal Brown set me up to fail.

There was no car crash, just like there was no moon landing.

Flags can't wave in space, Mitchell.

Hey, hey, hey, I was humiliated much worse than you.

It was so unfair. A lifetime of service out the window.

You think I don't see the faces of owls every night I close my eyes?

At least you've accomplished something they can tear down. I'm a fraud!

You see what you did to your brother? Look at those sad, hurt eyes.

Like a sad little owl.

Well, maybe if you believed in your sons instead of giving everyone Colombian handshakes.

What? I've never sanded down a man's fingers in front of his family.

Oh, you mean the bribes?

You can't deny it anymore.

Look at this photo on my dean's Instagram.

He's wearing the same watch you gave Sensei Ron.

The superintendent was wearing that same watch.

I noticed it when he shook my hand at the end of the ceremony and said I was a "horrifying disgrace."

You bribed him? Is that how I got my speech?

Okay, enough! I'm sure you would've gotten all these things on your own, but the world sometimes is very unfair.

And the watches are like an insurance.

Why do you even have so many?

Sometimes I do a little bit of Ambien shopping, and I buy too much of one thing.

Didn't you all wonder when you got the same fun socks for Christmas?

MITCHELL: Oh, samesies. JAY: I'll be damned.

CAM: I don't have those. CLAIRE: How fun.

I'm sorry, okay? But I love you guys so much to leave your dreams to chance.

I suppose where you grew up, bending the rules was just a part of life.

It's what you had to do to get by.

Why wouldn't you do that to help the people you love?

Thank you, Manny.

You're not welcome. That's not how I feel. I...

It's a speech from a play I was in. Right after that line, I light up a cigarette and put my clothes back on.

Yeah, I'm good, but now I'll never know if that's why I made the cut.

Okay, stop. Look, we've all had a terrible day today...

Not me. Tons of great fares, amazing yoga class...

I was building to something, buddy.

But that's one of the great things about being in a family.

We get to share in each other's victories, and Alex has a huge victory today that can make us all feel better.

So, let's turn around this crap day with a nice, feel-good...

Hey, is that Alex?

Oh, my God. Pull over! Back up. (TIRES SCREECH)


Alex! Honey, what happened? Are you okay?

What day is it? (CHUCKLES)

Not that time is anything but a flat circle.

So, we were done with classes, done with finals, and like college seniors since the beginning of time, we decided to get a little nuts.

Chug, Chug, Chug, Chug!

Our classmate, Ashish Chug...

I did it! (SCREAMS)

... hacked his key card to get us access to the restricted section of the library.

We decided to read Alister's Last Theorem.

Gottlob Alister wrote a proof showing that zero equals one.

This rendered mathematics meaningless and drove him insane.

According to legend, the same fate befalls anyone who reads and understands the proof.

Good God.


If mathematics doesn't matter, then no one can be certain of anything and then I've wasted the last four... No, 16 years of my life, and there's no point in me graduating!

Okay, I can tell that you're very upset, and you're probably really overtired from finals.

But you are gonna regret it if you don't go to graduation.

Look, I promise, whatever's bothering you, figure it out after the ceremony...

After? Yes.

After implies before!

But if one minute ago is the same as zero minutes ago, then before is now and now is after!

Usually, when I hear people talking like this, we're walking through a Taco Bell drive-through.

Sweetie, half your life is having your mind blown.

I remember when I heard there were more stars in the galaxy than grains of rice in a box of Uncle Ben's.

No, there are more galaxies than grains of sand on all the world's beaches.


CLAIRE: Okay, I can't lose them both.

I got this. Alex. Somebody...

"I never knew true strength until... I met a man with no feet."

Wait, no, these cards are not in order. Wait, nobody help her right now...

Alex, you're a smart, confident girl.

I know you're gonna make the right decision.

Did you just put this watch on me?

I have a problem.

I say if Alex doesn't want to go to her graduation, that's her decision.

Thank you, Luke.

As long as you know that whatever's going on here isn't about math.

Yeah, I think maybe you're afraid to leave school.


Your whole life, you've always known exactly what you're supposed to do.

Study, get good grades, repeat.

Now that's over and it's scary.

Kind of like if zero equaled one.

Well, lucky for you, your dummy brother and sister have spent time in the real world.

And if we can handle it, you're gonna do just fine.

You think? Trust us.

Come on. Let's go get you graduated. (CHUCKLES)

Hold on, that door gets jammed. I have to open it from the inside.

Okay. I got it!


Legend Danner.


I still can't get over that commencement speech.

Not a single laugh.

I'll tell you one element he didn't discover. Hilarium.

Oh, oh, oh! - Alex Dunphy!

(ALL CHEER) Congratulations.

We don't want to brag, but...

Our kids did that.



No. No more watches.

When did I order these ones?

MANNY: Hey, Mom, guess what?


What, papi?

My friend, Carly got cut from my program, and her dad's funded our new costume department.

I guess bribes don't work.

I got through on my own merit. That calls for a reward.

What is this?

Oh, Manny, please don't tell Jay.

Oatmeal raisin?

You know what?

A true artist doesn't close himself off to new experiences, even vile ill-leavened cookies.

That's the path I have chosen.

To experience and observe everything in this beautiful pageant we call life.