Christmas Time the Whole Time

 

Cam’s dad, Merle, is fighting with Cam’s mom and they are considering a divorce. After seeing Jay with Gloria, Merle thinks he might be able to do better, but Gloria paints a bleak picture of his future. Does Merle really have better options waiting out there or would he maximize his expected utility by staying with his current wife?

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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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Fiberoptic vs Natural Trees

 

Manny puts up a fiber optic Christmas Tree, because it is better for the environment, but Jay thinks it is ugly and does not want it in his house. This clip highlights both positive externalities of the fiber optic tree (environmental benefits) and negative externalities of the tree (Jay’s psychic costs). Jay and Manny have been trying to cut down their own Christmas tree for hours, but it is not budging and keeps ruining their tools. Jay has finally had enough and says Pritchetts know when to give up. All their previous effort is a sunk cost, and it would take too much effort relative to the reward of a half burned tree to keep going.

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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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Stay-at-Home Mom

 

It is career day at Luke’s school, and the teacher asks Claire to speak about her job as a stay at home mom. She points out that she actually has a lot of different jobs, and while she would like to go back to work, it is hard to find a job after you have been out of the labor force for 15 years.

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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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Street Strider Embarrassment

 

Phil wants to ride his street strider, but his whole family thinks it is very uncool. Luke points out that he has friends on the street that might see, and Claire not so subtly threatens to leave him if he rides it suggesting she is not getting any joy from him enjoying his street strider and in fact it is harming their relationship.

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Haggling for an Ash Tray

 

Luke and Manny’s class is having a yard sale to benefit UNICEF, but Jay hates when people haggle. Even though the ash tray is marked at 50 cents, he is unwilling to accept a lower payment from a man who clearly can afford the full ticket price.

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Decreasing Returns from Halloween Makeup

 

Claire is proud of how she almost scared a man to death last Halloween, but Phil points out that it was overkill and she could have been scarier with less makeup.

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The King of Coasters, Kind Of

 

Phil and Luke are trying to go on as many rides as they can at Disneyland, but after a while Phil can’t take it anymore. It’s clear that Phil’s utility is diminishing at a much higher rate than Luke’s.

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Phil’s Seminar

 

As part of his new job as partner in his own real estate firm, Phil has decided to put on a seminar for new homebuyers, but as he is discussing it, he realizes people could just write it all down and then they wouldn’t need his firm anymore. He did not think about how to protect his intellectual property.

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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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Limitations of a Lifetime Supply

 

Phil went on a gameshow in his early 20s and won a lifetime supply of dual blade razors, which was cutting edge razor technology at the time, though now it is not uncommon to find razors with 3, 4, or 5 blades. Phil is very disappointed to see that his “lifetime supply” has run out.

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Phil Buys an Alpaca

 

Phil has to decide whether to leave his own firm and start his own with two old co-workers, but he only has a limited amount of time to decide. He remembers that he is not good under pressure by recalling a time that he bought an alpaca because it was the last one and he panicked.

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Expiring Spa Certificate

 

Phil finds gift certificates to a spa that he and Claire had won in a charity auction in a drawer, but they expire today. He wants Claire to use them because otherwise their money just goes to charity, but Claire doesn’t know how she will. Phil is falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy, while Claire is thinking in terms of the additional costs and benefits of using the certificates.

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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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Closets Chose Jay

 

Claire and Jay are visiting a competitor’s business. The competitor wants to buy Pritchett Closets, but Claire and Jay have a different idea. The new company is focused on creating smart closets that can pick outfits for the person based on the weather and their current size. They have great technology, but they don’t have the manufacturing capabilities to fulfill all their orders. Pritchett Closets, on the other hand, has the manufacturing space, but they haven’t invested much in technology. Claire proposes that they merge instead.

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The iPad

 

It is Phil’s birthday and also the day the iPad is being released. Phil is willing to spend his birthday waiting in line to be sure he gets the new iPad, but Claire offers to do it for his birthday but instead of getting there early she falls asleep on the couch. When she finally gets to the store, they are all out, and Phil ends up wishing he had handled it himself.

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Unbeatable Deal

 

Phil has plans to give Haley the perfect git for her 21st birthday – a new car. He has spent months doing research and planning without actually going in to a dealership. His work has been online and he landed an incredible deal. But Jay is convinced that he can do better. In this scene, Phil is sad because Jay made his deal fall through but Jay has a surprise. Jay did some hard core negotiating and beat that unbeatable deal…. or did he? Buying a car is different from many other markets. The price on the sticker is rarely what people pay. Instead, both buyer and seller go in to the transaction with the understanding that they will negotiate the price and features of the car.

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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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A Magic Shop for Phil

 

Claire surprises Phil by purchasing the magic shop of his dreams. The previous owner sold it for very cheap, but then Claire starts to wonder if the magician had information she was unaware of. Despite the concern, this is a unique opportunity for Phil to become an entrepreneur.

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Mister Ekshun’s Illusionatorium

 

Claire and Phil go to a magic shop and talk business with the legendary Mister Ekshun. The magician laments that he can’t be at the shop everyday because he’s booking “road jobs” which we should infer have a higher payoff than the shop’s profits.  Phil is curious about how a magic trick works, but they need to make sure Claire (a non-magic person) isn’t able to hear the trick. Phil learns that he had an opportunity to become a magician on a cruise ship earlier in life, but Claire had never told him about the call because of how busy their lives had been.

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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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Untested Stickers

 

Haley works for a lifestyle company with a history of selling dodgy products. The latest one is stickers. Her boss wants them tested but can’t use animals. So, she uses the next best thing – her assistants. But first, she has some really important questions to ask. This clip demonstrates the importance of labor law and regulations. Without regulations that are enforced, some employers might require workers to complete dangerous tasks. Even with regulations, this still happens. How does this clip show that Haley’s boss knows about the danger and about the regulations but doesn’t care?

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The Sauce Maven

 

Gloria and Jay are looking to sell her family’s sauce to a larger company. They each use a different tactic to make the product more appealing. In doing this, they’re trying to increase the demand for the sauce. Unfortunately, they don’t coordinate their strategies in advance and Jay blows the deal. In fact, there’s a lot of information that Gloria has hidden from Jay. She has long had a surplus of sauce that she has been keeping in storage lockers across town. Gloria has likely paid a lot of money for all of the storage. What do sellers usually do when they have a surplus? Are Gloria’s past actions consistent with traditional economic principles of rationality? Consider sunk cost and marginal costs.

(Note: this scene is an example of adverse selection. Gloria knows that her product is no good but they are trying to signal not only that it’s good but also that it’s special, almost magic.)

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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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Tankless Job

 

Phil is trying to sell the house next door to a couple. In order to make the house as desirable as possible, he wants to put his family’s best foot forward. He wants the buyers to want to live beside his family. So, he has the kids outside gardening. This demonstrates adverse selection, signaling and the importance of spillover effects/positive externalities. Good, helpful neighbors are desirable and can increase a property’s value, especially if they take good care of their yard. Thus, there are positive externalities associated with landscaping. To discuss signaling and adverse selection, consider that someone is less likely to move if the neighbors are good than if they are bad. So, it’s entirely reasonable to consider the housing market as being characterized by adverse selection. Phil is doing all he can to signal that he and his family are good neighbors in order to get the couple to by the house and to pay a high price for it. But are they good neighbors? (At the end of this clip, you’ll see the other possible new neighbors. Which new family would each of the Dunphys prefer to live beside? Why?)

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Sock it to Me

 

Jay has a great new invention that he believes will revolutionize the closet industry. It’s a sock dispenser. In competitive industries, product differentiation can lead to short term profits – especially for early adopters. Why is Jay concerned that his son, Manny, has a new friend who has seen this idea?

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Miracle Gloves

 

Phil helped a friend make an infomercial and then his friend served as the videographer for Mitchel and Cam’s wedding. This is an example of a double coincidence of needs and allowed for barter.

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Preferences and Tradeoffs for Cal Tech

 

Alex is graduating from high school soon so Phil, Claire and the kids are visiting Cal Tech. Claire thinks Cal Tech is the perfect place for Alex but she’ll find out soon that she and Alex have different preferences. College is one of the ways that we build human capital. As we learn more things, we become more productive and our labor is more valuable. Alex is already really bright and loves academics so college is a good fit to set her up for doing impressive things in the future.

Claire wants a great school that’s close. Alex wants a great school that’s far away. We also learn that Cal Tech has 5 Nobel Laureates on staff, suggesting that Cal Tech itself has a lot of human capital, making it a highly productive college.

Alex learns why Cal Tech might be a better choice for her than an East Coast school. What is more important: the quality of the program or proximity to home? Choices are tough and everything has a cost. Here’s Alex’s current dilemma: stay close to home and attend the best program in the country OR go to a college on the east coast with a weaker program.

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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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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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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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Barkley the Butler Dog

 

Jay bought a bog butler in a casino gift shop and thinks that everyone loves it, but Gloria detests it and tries to get rid of it. Every time she comes home, she’s reminded of the dog and it ends up scaring her. While Jay loves it, he’s perhaps not taking into account the cost it has on others in the family.

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The Value of Guilt

 

When Phil had a health scare, Claire gets dressed up for the hot firemen who are coming for him. She admits this to Phil before his procedure and her reminds her of it upon waking. After Claire apologizes, Phil says he will be fine with time even though he is fine with it now. Phil believes Claires guilt will grow over time giving him more bargaining power in the future.

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Morning Routine

 

Phil thinks both he and Claire get up at 7am to start taking care of the kids, but Claire informs him that she actually starts her day as a stay at home mom at 6am. Because Claire has a comparative advantage in getting the kids ready for school in the morning, Phil gets an extra hour of sleep.

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Great Parents

 

Mitchell is worried that he is a worse parent than Cam, but Cam assures him that they are both great parents because they complement each other. Their decision to specialize in particular tasks allows them to complete more work together and both recognize they wouldn’t accomplish nearly as much if each had to go it alone.

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Demand for Cellos

 

Alex chooses the cello to play in the orchestra because she thinks cellos are in demand in university orchestras. Claire and Phil had recommended she play the violin so that she wouldn’t have to carry around so much, but Alex thinks she’s made the right choice.

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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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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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Teaching a Lesson

 

Phil decides to steal (what he believes to be) Luke’s bike to teach him a lesson, but then he loses it because he didn’t lock it up while trying to help a neighbor back into her house. Phil returns to the bike shop, but can’t get a break because he didn’t buy the insurance before.

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Meryl is Just Okay

 

Cam is talking to a lady at Lily’s play class about movies to make small talk, and they have very different opinions on how talented Meryl Streep is. Cam loved her performance in Sophie’s Choice and has a hard time thinking about having to choose between Lily and Mitchell. While each person has their own subjective preferences when it comes to entertainers, nearly everyone faces the same struggle of having to decide between saving family members.

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