Mitch and Phil Play Chicken

 

Claire and Cam want to flip a house, but Phil and Mitch are against it. Phil pretends he is for it leaving Mitch to put his foot down, but eventually Mitch decides to play the good cop as well and leave Phil to put the brakes on the house.

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Hiking vs Hugh

 

The family is visiting Australia and has a hike planned for the day. On their way to the van, Cam and Mitch get a text from an old friend inviting them to join him on Hugh Jackman’s yacht that day. Now Cam and Mitch have to decide between time with their families or time with famous people.

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Gay Marriage is Finally Legal

 

This scene takes place immediately following the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. If we think about the gay marriage market, a law that prevents gay marriage is essentially like a quota of 0, which leads to huge amounts of deadweight loss. As soon as the quota is removed/the law is changed, the lines at the courthouse are long as all of those previously prevented from marrying rush to get married.

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What Would Santa Do?

 

Lily lost her first tooth and got $100 from the Tooth Fairy. Cam and Mitch are trying to convince her that the Tooth Fairy made a mistake and she should give the money back, but Lily wants to keep the money until Hayley tells her this would almost certainly put her on Santa’s naughty list. Now Lily has to decide what she values more: $100 or Christmas presents.

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Special Gift Delivery

 

Cam and Mitch have decided to get Jay and Gloria a special gift off registry for their new baby’s nursery. Mitch seems concerned that they will not appreciate it.

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Facon — Soy Bacon

 

Cam has started making is own soy based bacon alternative called facon. He insists that it is indistinguishable from real bacon, but Mitch and Alex are able to tell a difference.

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Cam Gets a Job

 

Since Lilly is now in school and Cam and Mitchell are not adopting another baby, Mitchell thinks it is time for Cam to get a job. Their friend Longeness offers him a job at his boutique to help Mitchell out. Cam accepts because it does seem like a great match for his tastes and skill set, but Jeoux let’s the cat out of the bag that it wasn’t a sincere offer, and Cam is very offended that Mitch thinks he is too lazy to get a job.

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Adopting a Cat

 

Mitch and Cam have promised Lily that they can adopt a cat and name it Larry. Unfortunately, when they go try to adopt a cat they realize that there are a lot of non-monetary costs involved in the cat adoption process. Cam points out that they would not have a surplus of cats if they made the process easier (or essentially lowered the price).

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Writing a Children’s Book — Coco & Miko

 

When adopting Lilly, Mitchell only gave her his own last name and not both his and Cameron’s because he was scared Cameron would leave. As an apology he writes a story about two monkeys adopting a panda. He and Cameron think they have found a niche market with stories for gay parents, but they realize the market is already pretty saturated after a trip to the bookstore.

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The Upstairs Unit (Part 2)

 

Pam’s ex-boyfriend is back in town and wants to get back together. Mitchel is all in favor of the reconciliation, but Cam is against it. Why is Mitchell so eager for her to move out? As long as Cam’s sister is in the apartment upstairs, they aren’t able to rent the apartment out and earn extra money. While Cam is trying to be generous for his family, Mitchell sees the missing dollar signs.

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One Nice Thing

 

Cam convinced Mitchel that he needs to be kinder so Mitch invites a messy colleague who is going through a breakup to spend the night at their place. Unfortunately, she takes him up on it. Determined to keep their beautiful, brand new, designer white sofa (their one nice thing) in mint condition, they give up their bed for her and sleep on the floor. In this clip, they wake up and discover that she has moved onto the couch. This couch is more expensive than one from Rooms to Go and so it counts more towards GDP. Owning an expensive couch is an indication of Mitch and Cam’s high standard of living. Yet, does a high standard of living mean a higher quality of life? Robert Kennedy didn’t think so:

[GDP] counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

–RFK, Speech at University of Kansas, March 18, 1968.

Another perspective on this clip: resources are scarce. At it’s heart, economics is about how we choose to use those resources. Purchasing this couch moved Mitch and Cam on to a higher indifference curve than before they purchased it so their utility is higher than it used to be. But could they have been on an even higher one if they chose to buy a cheap couch and spend their money on something else? Traditional economics says that Mitch and Cam are rational and made the best decision. Is it possible that they could have made a mistake? What if they incorrectly estimated the cost of maintaining the couch. Could this also demonstrate time inconsistency?

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The Unit Upstairs

 

Cam and Mitchell own a duplex. They usually rent the upstairs unit but Cam’s sister, Pam, needed a place to stay when she was pregnant so he offered it to her (rent free). This has put a bit of a strain on their relationship because she’s stayed longer than planned and they need the money from the rental.

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Expensive Worms

 

Mitch is told by the local bait shop owner that worms are twice the price by the lake as they are in town. This is probably because people who are already at the lake aren’t willing to drive back to save a few cents, so the dock can markup the price. This implies that people at the lake are insensitive to the price, or inelastic.

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It’s All About Dignity

 

Mitch is working on a big case about the rights of vulnerable workers. In it, he argues that a company is preying on the lack of options available to people who are homeless and hiring them for extremely low wages. He believes that this is a violation of labor laws and tries to get the notice of the press. However, Cam is stealing the spotlight as a successful high school football coach who is openly gay. Traditional economics holds that trades which are voluntary (such as employment) are mutually beneficial. As such, is the company truly taking advantage of its workers or do they benefit from the employment opportunity? Political economics suggests that you cannot ignore the power inequality between the company and the workers. When a large power imbalance is present, exploitation is possible. Which is more in line with Mitch’s perspective? Traditional economics or political economics? Would the people who are homeless be helped by increasing the wage? How would that impact structural unemployment?

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A Spider in the Courtroom

 

It’s Halloween and Americans love to wear costumes. Sometimes, they wear costumes to work. This scene underscores the importance of professional dress. The way that we dress is a signal to the world about who we are. Is the stenographer sending the right signal to the court by wearing a spider costume? Do you suppose she would have gotten the job if she dressed like this for the interview? Her choice of attire also casts a negative externality in court as Mitchell and the jury aren’t able to concentrate as well. These social costs are likely outweighing her private benefits.

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Ms. Crank

 

Lily has the tough teacher but Cam and Mitch just learned of an opening in the nice teacher’s class. In this scene, they approach Ms. Plank about transferring Lily into Ms. Sparrow’s classroom. Education is one of the markets where consumers have little choice. Some argue that this creates inefficiencies in the market. Others argue that education consumers may not have enough information to make optimal decisions so giving consumers more choice would not necessarily lead to an improvement in efficiency. This sort of problem is discussed at many levels in education – from school choice to book choice.

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Lily Gets a Job

 

Cameron gets Lilly a job as a child actor, but Mitchell is not excited about it and says no. Cameron doesn’t understand why he thinks he gets the final say in household decisions.

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Preschool Admissions

 

Cam and Mitch are trying to get Lily into the best preschool they can, and preschool admissions are normally very competitive, but they think that being gay and having a minority child will give them a leg up in the admissions process. The market for daycare appears to be a monopolistically competitive environment in which firms differentiate their offerings to appeal to different parents.

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Cameron’s Moment

 

Cameron fills in as the drummer in Dylan’s band, and after their first song, performs an impromptu drum solo. Mitchell originally found him impressive, but his drum solo went on so long that he experienced diminishing marginal returns.

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Role Reversal

 

After Mitchell quit his job, Cameron went to work to support them. Both Mitchell and Cameron think their partner is happy with this role reversal, but both are miserable and want to return to their original arrangement.

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Greeting Card Jackpot

 

Cameron gets a new job at a greeting card store and loves it because he is able to buy greeting cards with the employee discount. This greatly increases his greeting card purchases, and Mitchell points out that it is not saving them money, but costing them money. The discount represents a price reduction, which causes Cam to increase the quantity of cards he purchases.

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Working Girl

 

Claire is going to meet an old friend from work, but her kids are surprised to find out that she once had a job. She describes why she chose to leave the workforce.

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Opposite’s Attract

 

Mitchell complains to Jay about Cam being too nice, and Jay complains to Mitchell about Gloria not liking his dog butler. Jay notes that they are both with people who are very different and that maybe that makes their relationships better.

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Bump on the Head

 

After bumping Lily’s head on the doorframe, Mitchel calls his sister for reassurance. Claire lets Mitchell know it’s fine because her youngest son was hit on the head a lot and he’s fine, but that correlation ends up worrying Mitchell more.

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Earrings vs an Exercise Equipment

 

Cam gives his mother in-law a pair of diamond earrings, but she reciprocated by giving him exercise equipment and salad drier. Cam doesn’t appear to think that the two gifts were of equal value, which shows how gift giving can be considered inefficient.

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Diapers for a Baby

 

Mitchell doesn’t understand why they buy their diapers at Costco, but Cam jokes that they’ve been doing it since they had a baby. The implication is that the baby has caused an increase in their demand for diapers. It turns out that Mitchel really likes Costco!

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Diapers for a Year or Two

 

When Mitchell realizes how cheap items at CostCo are, he suggests getting enough for the next two years. When he realizes how many diapers that is, he thinks about getting a shed to store them all. When people face steep discounts on prices, they respond by buying more (law of demand), but how much more they decide to buy is based on the elasticity of demand. In this case, Mitchel appears to be a very price sensitive buyer even though the items are really necessities.

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Choice Paralysis

 

Mitch and Cam have a house guest who made breakfast using the expensive caviar that they had been saving for a special occasion. While enjoying their wonderful meal, they realize that there are all sorts of things that they have never used because they were waiting for the perfect time. This demonstrates choice paralysis. Cam and Mitch have seemingly endless choices for when to consume these special things but they never actually do. Choice paralysis says that we have a difficult time making a choice when there are too many options. As a result, we cannot chose and end up with a sub-par outcome.

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Healthy Competition

 

Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? Later in the episode, we find out that there were some unintended consequences of his actions.

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Preference for Lake Life

 

Mitchell grew up on a farm wanting to be part of a lake family. He laments that anyone can visit the lake, but only wealthy families can sleep on a lake, implying that lake life if a luxury good. Discovering they own lamps that are on a boat, Mitch likes them less but Cam likes them more.

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Unhealthy Competition

 

Economics often suggests that competition improves efficiency. Jay seems to agree. He fosters competition within his family to help them achieve their goals. But are they really achieving those goals? The truth comes out in this clip. It turns out that they’re a family of cheaters and not a family of winners.

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Site for a Sauna

 

Jay spends some time in the sauna au naturale, but Mitchell doesn’t appreciate the eyefull. Their awkward exchanges have been impacting other guests at the spa as well.

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Gasp in 20 Pages

 

In order to get some alone time from their partners, Mitchell and Jay decide to head to the desert, but they didn’t think they’d run into each other at the same spa. In the middle of reading the same book, Mitchell comes across a shocking detail and spoils part of the book for Jay who is sitting across the pool.

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Superstitions in Sports

 

The Dolphins are on a winning streak and Cam has to keep doing his superstitious activities so that his team can keep winning. Mitch decides to go to the game, but that’s against the weekly tradition and all of a sudden the team’s fortunes turn. It may be hard to convince Cam, but correlation doesn’t imply causation.

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The Virus

 

Mitch gets sick on his honeymoon, but spreads it to everyone else in the family. Each member goes through the pain they endured because Mitch didn’t quarantine himself. Only later in the episode do they find out that Mitch isn’t patient zero.

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One Bouquet is Enough

 

Cam and Mitch have been married 3 months, but it seems like their honeymoon will never end. Cam continues to give Mitchell flowers even though he clearly doesn’t enjoy them as much as he used to. He may have loved the first bouquet, but eventually he may start to hate them.

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