Emmy Episode Analysis: Ty Burrell (‘Modern Family’) puts on a show

Ty Burrell is back in the Comedy Supporting Actor race this year for playing Phil Dunphy on ABC’s “Modern Family.” This is his fifth consecutive nomination; he’s been nominated every year the the show has been eligible for Emmys, and he won in 2011. This year he submitted the episode “Spring-a-Ding-Fling.”

Emmy nominee Ty Burrell (‘Modern Family’) on finally
defeating Alec Baldwin at SAG Awards [Exclusive Video]

SYNOPSIS: Phil is excited for the annual realtor’s banquet that he’s hosting, because he gets to bring his oldest daughter, Haley (Sarah Hyland). She used to accompany him to open houses when she was younger and enjoyed it, so now he’s hoping to get her excited about real estate again. But Haley, as it turns out, only said yes to Phil as a distraction so she could sneak her friends out of the house while he wasn’t looking.

At the banquet, Phil performs an opening number where he plays multiple characters and sings a parody of “Come Sail Away.” In costume as a divorcee, he notices Haley not paying attention to his performance and is thrown off his game, falling off the stage and injuring his leg. Later, while his injury is tended to, Haley tries to reassure Phil that she actually was watching his act.

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Still feeling defeated, Phil admits he always wanted Haley to follow him into the real estate business, but as he is about to leave the event, he finds out he’s won the banquet’s big award. His injury leaves him unable to walk to the podium, but Haley accepts on his behalf and delivers a series of zingers Phil prepared but never got to perform. The routine kills, and Phil watches proudly as his daughter follows in his footsteps in a different way.

Can Burrell win a second Emmy? Let’s analyze the pros and cons:


Emmy voters love when actors play multiple characters or personas. Consider the recent victories by Toni Collette as multiple personalities in “United States of Tara” (Comedy Actress, 2009) and Alec Baldwin performing multiple voices or characters in both of his winning “30 Rock” submissions (Comedy Actor, 2008 and 2009).

Burrell also has good scenes in the episode submitted by his co-star and rival nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Message Received”), where he mistakenly believes that Claire is pregnant and that she regrets marrying him.

The show is still a serious contender to win Comedy Series this year, which would be its fifth consecutive trophy. That kind of strong overall support can’t hurt.


He’s off-screen for most of the episode. His scenes add up to less than five minutes.

Ferguson also has great scenes in this episode, during a subplot where his character, Mitchell, starts work at a new law firm and puts his foot in his mouth after a series of misunderstandings. Burrell might have actually done Ferguson a favor by choosing this episode; voters will get to see these comic scenes in addition to the emotional payoff his own episode.

If there is “Modern Family” fatigue among voters, Burrell could fall victim.

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Ty Burrell is currently in fourth place in our predictions with 9/1 odds. Do you think he has a better chance than we’re giving him? Make your predictions below.

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