Jay's family tries to function despite the age difference between himself and his wife. Claire's family tries to punish their son and watch over her daughter and her new boyfriend. Mitchell tries to hide the fact that he and his partner Cameron have adopted a daughter in Vietnam from his family until Cameron invites Mitchell's family without consulting him (which is revealed to be the other two families).
Jay tries to show his stepson he can be a good father; Phil tries to teach his son a lesson by stealing his bike, but gets in trouble when he discovers he got the wrong bike; and Cameron and Mitchell put Lily in Day Care Center and try to act straight.
Phil pushes Jay to go out with him and fly his new model plane. While Manny takes time out to play with Luke, Gloria accompanies Alex in shopping for a dress. Mitchell and Cameron goes shopping at Costco, but Mitchell feels that he is too good to shop there. Later on, Manny ends up having a heart-to-heart talk with his sister Claire.
Mitchell and Claire's mother visit the family months after she embarrassed Jay in front of his family on his wedding day. Phil and Claire try to judge whether Haley's boyfriend is acceptable to take her to a concert or not. Mitchell goes to his father's house to tell him that they are inviting his ex-wife to a party, but doesn't tell Gloria. At the reunion, Gloria and Jay's ex-wife begin to fight, but Haley's boyfriend stops them.
The whole family is invited to Jay and Gloria's for a barbecue and football. However an earlier incident at school between Manny and Luke makes things very awkward for Gloria and Claire, and then things escalate when a not-so-flattering label is uttered.
It's the first day back at school for the kids and, at the Dunphy house, Phil oversteps when he misreads how Claire is coping with an empty nest. Over at Jay's, he and Gloria are in disagreement over Manny's interesting choice of outfit for his first day of class, and Mitchell and Cameron freak out after Lily gets her first bump on the head.
The whole family comes out to support Manny's newfound interest - fencing. It turns out he's quite masterful in the sport, but Jay's proud enthusiasm triggers an old childhood wound for Mitchell. Meanwhile Phil is determined to find where Luke's hidden talents lie.
With a history of giving bad gifts, Claire is determined to surprise Phil with an amazing anniversary present: a private performance by one of their favorite musicians, Izzy LaFontaine (Edward Norton). However, it turns out to be unexpected in more ways than one. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Cameron call up their former friend and reputed party girl, Sal (Elizabeth Banks), for a long overdue night out on the town and Jay hosts a party for the children of all three families.
Nothing is too big when Phil and Claire decide to throw Luke the biggest and best birthday party a boy could ever want, but when Cameron shows up as Fizbo the Clown, it sets off a chain of events that ends with someone in the hospital.
Gloria is less than pleased with Jay's reaction to the arrival of Javier, Manny's infamously unreliable dad. Meanwhile, Phil is suffering from kidney stones and his dramatics leave Claire no other choice but to call for the hot firemen to rush him to the hospital, and Mitchell and Cameron have a harder time than Lily as they attempt to sleep train her.
Mitchell plants the seed in Jay's head that he thinks one of Jay's old buddies, Shorty, might be secretly gay. Jay doesn't believe it for a second... except for all the questionable signs he now keeps noticing. Meanwhile Gloria gives Manny's date a makeover and Claire faces off with Phil's universal remote.
Claire feels slightly inadequate when her old friend, Valerie (guest star Minnie Driver), visits and is nothing like Claire remembered. Meanwhile Jay has an unsettling locker room moment when he and Cameron go play racquetball, and Mitchell tries to help Gloria with some legal problems.
Phil reconnects with an old high school girlfriend through Facebook and invites her over to the house, but things don't go as well as expected. Jay will stop at nothing to cover up his tracks when he accidentally kills Manny's pet turtle, and Mitchell, who feels extremely overworked, finally confronts his boss.
Jay and Mitchell go on their traditional father-and-son outing to see the meteor showers, but Mitchell is upset when he finds out that Manny will be joining them. Cameron and Gloria spend some quality time together, with some minor incidents, while Phil and Claire both take on one of their child's school projects.
It's Phil's birthday and there's a new product he wants coming out at the same time. Meanwhile, Mitchell decides to toughen up and Cameron talks to a neighbor about marital problems, but he gets too involved with the neighbor's stories.
During an intense basketball game, Luke and Manny's coach quits, which leads to Jay and Phil stepping in to help out. Jay sets up Mitchell with an interview for a new job. Claire and Gloria bond over having had their children reveal they embarrass them.
Phil's father shows up for a visit with an RV and a dog, making Claire believe that he is hiding a more serious reason for coming. Meanwhile, Cameron fills in as a drummer for Dylan's band, and Jay takes Manny to a horror movie that traumatizes him.
Gloria surprises Jay with a trip to Hawaii for his birthday, but he isn't pleased to find out that the entire family is tagging along. When everyone arrives at the airport, chaos ensues with forgotten identification, breaches of security, and flying phobias.
Jay's plans to do nothing but relax on vacation are interrupted by an unwelcome reality check. Meanwhile, Phil tries to make the trip romantic for Claire, Mitchell and Cameron disagree on whether they should go sight-seeing, and the kids get themselves into trouble.
Claire makes an effort to take a new family portrait, but everybody is too busy to cooperate: Gloria and Manny go with Phil and Alex to a Lakers game and share an awkward moment on the jumbotron, Cameron gets a job as a wedding singer while Mitchell takes care of Lily and a stray pigeon, and Luke interviews Jay for a school project.
Claire finally convinces Phil that it's time to get rid of their old station wagon, and it prompts everybody to take a trip down memory lane. Meanwhile, Mitchell decides to build Lily a life-size princess castle and Manny invites a cute girl over to study, which doesn't sit well with Gloria.
When she finds out that Alex is interested in a boy, Claire becomes over-protective, while Haley tries to give her sister advice. Meanwhile, Gloria begins to cook more traditional Colombian food in honor of her late grandmother, which is received in jest by Jay, and Mitchell reveals his aversion to PDA.
After an earthquake hits the town, Claire gets stuck with the plumber in the bathroom. Meanwhile, when going out with Jay, Manny experiences an existential crisis. Also, Mitchell and Cameron use the quake to get out of a party that is being thrown by their friend.
Claire tries to stop Phil from giving an unfunny speech and embarrassing himself at a Realtors' banquet, while Mitchell tries to convince Cameron to change his wardrobe. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria go to a quinceañera hosted by one of his employees, and Haley gives Alex advice on how to be cool.
In an attempt to reconnect the family, Phil and Claire challenge them to see who can abstain from using their electronic devices the longest. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Cameron attempt to get Lily into the best pre-school, and Gloria deals with the neighbor's barking dog.
Claire, in her love for Halloween, makes the house look spooky for the trick or treaters. She wants to give each family member a role to play, but many problems come up to prevent it. Cameron hates Halloween because of a traumatic childhood experience, Mitchell had a bad day at work, and Gloria is acting weird because Jay and Manny teased her accent.
Claire and Haley are both stuck home sick, and begin to bond. Phil deals with a chirping smoke detector, Gloria and Manny surprise Jay at work, and Cameron takes Lily to shoot a commercial behind Mitchell's back.
It's Manny's birthday and the family is gathering at a restaurant to celebrate, though Manny himself is depressed about getting older. Phil and Claire decide to engage in a not-so-friendly car race on the way to the restaurant, and Mitch and Cam get sidetracked when they stop at the mall to pick up a gift.
Mitchell tries to tell Cameron's mother that he feels uncomfortable around her. Meanwhile, Haley, much to Claire's delight, breaks up with Dylan, but Phil still keeps in contact with him, and Jay's harmless stomach ache gets worse after Manny looks it up on the Internet.
A School dance is coming up and it will be a first for Luke and Manny. But, Jay and Phil think this is a big deal and it turns into an eventful day at the mall. Claire tells Gloria she doesn't need her help with planning the dance with the parents' dance committee. Cam and Mitchell are surprised when Lily doesn't seem to be making friends on the playground.
Phil and Claire pressure Alex to ease back on her school work, but begin to worry about their own intellectual drives. Meanwhile, Jay tries to nip in the bud a burgeoning friendship with a boring couple he and Gloria met on vacation, and Mitchell runs into an old female flame.
It's Phil and Claire's anniversary, and when the kids go to surprise them with breakfast in bed, they get a surprise of their own. Jay and Gloria's plans for a Vegas vacation are ruined because of a brutally honest email accidentally sent to Claire, and Mitchell and Cam try to get into a new restaurant owned by a mom at Lily's preschool.
Claire and Phil decide to reprise their role-playing adventure from last year's Valentine's Day. Meanwhile, Jay's surprise plans for Gloria keeps getting interrupted, and a secret admirer comes between Cameron and Mitchell.
After Phil and Claire have a huge argument, which Phil knows nothing about, Gloria counsels Phil and Jay deals with Claire. Meanwhile, Cameron is working diligently on a fundraiser and enlists the help of Mitchell and Luke, and Jay buys Gloria a karaoke machine.
Luke becomes friends with a curmudgeon old neighbor, which does not please Phil and Claire. Meanwhile, Gloria and Manny try to get Jay to join them at the symphony, but in an attempt to avoid the concert, he instead goes with Mitchell and Cameron on their "boys' night out", and Haley babysits for Lily.
Phil and Claire decide to switch parenting roles for a day, while Jay gives entrepreneur advice to a friend opening a dog training business, and Cameron comes down with the flu on the night of a Lady Gaga concert.
The family prepares for Alex's middle-school graduation, including Jay trying to conceal a cosmetic-procedure mishap, Claire is on edge and Phil antagonizes her, and Mitchell makes jokes at Cameron's expense.