I didn’t really start watching this show until last year. I’ve watched every episode this season. I remember when I first saw commercials for it, it didn’t really look like something I’d want to watch. It basically looked like they’d married off Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond with the Janitor from Scrubs and then given them three weird kids.
Taking an actor from a successful sitcom that is no longer on who played a well known character on said sitcom, and pairing them with another actor who also played a well known character on different successful sitcom often doesn’t work out so well. Patricia Heaton had already previously tried it. Does anyone remember the show Back to You that she did with Kelsey Grammer? No? Good, it wasn’t worth remembering.
But this time it worked. Because The Middle has a great concept which is simple and well written. When I watch it I’m able to disassociate my automatic connections to Everybody Loves Raymond and Scrubs, both of which I used to watch. I liked Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn both in their previous sitcom roles as well their current roles now. In one episode, they showed a flashback to their characters Frankie and Mike Heck, going camping for their honeymoon. Their trip is interrupted by Mike’s old annoying friend, played by Ray Romano. At one point he asks Frankie if they’ve met before and she says “no, I think I’d remember meeting you”, which I thought was hilarious.
The show consists of Frankie and Mike trying to survive raising their three kids, Axl, Sue, and Brick, who all struggle through their own problems as well. Axl, played by Charlie McDermott, is your typical lazy slob of a teenager. He excels in sports but struggles with school and thinks homework is a waste of time. He’s also full of himself and thinks he’s awesome. His sister Sue, played by Eden Cher, is sort of the opposite, and is basically the epitome of the super awkward and neurotic teenage girl. Despite being a total misfit, she’s optimistic and tries out for all the school activities, and more often than not fails at them. The youngest, Brick, played by Atticus Shaffer, is a quiet kid who always has his nose in a book. He might go unnoticed if he wasn’t so weird. He’s pretty smart for a nine-year-old, but has a bit of social awkwardness as well.
Frankie is often saying how tired she is from trying to stay on top of the kids all the time. In one episode, she describes their parenting style as relaxed. In the last episode, the kids complained that she’s too much of nag and that Mike just throws out crazy punishments for them when he gets too annoyed to deal with them. They all struggle together as a bit of dysfunctional family. I think the reason the show is a success is because they’re a family you can sort of relate to. Kids go through awkward phases, and think their parents are unreasonable, and parents want to make sure their kids are alright and wish they would get their act together. And when things don’t go as we’d like, we can turn to shows like this and see characters who may be slightly more dysfunctional than we are.