T.V. Show Review: The Middle

Patricia Heaton in a Different Venue

Patricia Heaton, the actress who played Raymond's wife on Everybody Loves Raymond, has a "new" show, and you won't get it confused with the other one. For one, her hair is different. And of course, she's married to a different man. Like her last show, she also plays a mother with kids and a busy lifestyle. But that's where the similarities end.

The Middle is a gentler show than Everybody Loves Raymond. The humour is sarcastic but gentle and seems to be accepting of all of the characters. The marriage between Ray and his wife seemed to be one of mother and child; whereas Debra doesn't seem to even like her spouse. And when I say it's a new show, I mean new to me. It's actually been on since 2009, but I hadn't taken notice of it until this year.

The sitcom features the Heck family with five people: the mother, Frankie, played by Heaton, the father, Mike, played by Neil Flynn and the three children: Axl, played by Charlie McDermott, Sue played by Eden Sher and precocious Brick, acted by Atticus Shaffer.

The Middle opens with a montage about life in the suburbs, and features vintage footage interspersed with footage from today's life. The premise: things are different now, but they are kind of the same, too. And with this show, we do get a picture of middle class America in the 2000's.

Funny Storylines

Every week The Middle features dual story lines and ends with a conclusion narrated by Patricia Heaton as Frankie Heck, telling the lessons learned by the family that week in her wry, knowing voice.

Although the show ends with a comforting conclusion, the road there is bumpy, unexpected and absolutely hilarious. The characters end up in the most ridiculous situations. In one episode, Sue believes that she is everyone is throwing a surprise birthday party for her, even going as far as waiting for two hours in the basement because her brother tells her they are coming, and she should hide.

When nothing happens, it is the ultimate anti-climax.The family has forgetten her birthday in the frenzy of dealing with other problems. To make it better, however, Mom insists that everyone get up and eat cake, created from leftover cupcakes from a failed bake sale, with her in the middle of night.

I Recommend This Show

4 stars for The Middle TV Show

The Characters Have Good Chemistry

Each character of The Middle is unique and as a group, they have excellent chemistry. First, there's the main character-narrator, Frankie, played by Heaton, who has a great sense of humour and manages to see the funny in everything. She is much less strident than her Debra character on her previous show. She nags her kids and gets frustrated with them but seems very patient overall. The relationship she shares with her husband seems playful and equal.

Then, there's Sue, the token girl of the siblings who is at an awkward stage. She is geeky, sincere, earnest and always seeing the best in everything. She gets enthusiastic about whatever she does and has a need to talk everything out incessantly. She typifies the neurotic teen we all once were, and we laugh along with her, while wincing in familarity at the teenage ansgst she battles.

Source

Axl, The Big Brother

Next is Axl, the teenage brother that, like most older brothers, bugs the heck out of his younger siblings, especially Sue. He is almost always mortified to have a sister like her and has a rule that she must ABSOLUTELY NOT TALK TO HIM in school or anywhere that people might see him.

Axl is a jock and not into school or academics. In one hilarious episode, we see his attempts to make a presentation about love for his English class, and he finally ends up pilfering the essay that his younger, much smarter little brother has written. Axl is very real and reminds us of teenage boys that we all know and love: laconic, a bit lazy, and not given to talk or conversation.

Brick the Dysfunctional Genius

Then, there is Brick, the youngest son. Brick is a prodigy genius who is always more interested in a book than anything happening in "real life." He has a distaste for anything physical and in one very funny scene, sits and reads about the fishing at the lake, while they were right in the middle of doing it.

Comparisons have been made to the character in "Malcolm in the Middle" but I find him quite different. For one, it is clear that his intellect has not made him wise, just book smart, and two, he doesn't belong to a gifted class. Instead, we see him as a full fledged member of a social behaviour group for helping kids learn social skills. In other words, being smart is really more an obstacle for him than an asset.


Mike Heck, the Father

I like the character, MIke Heck in The Middle. He's smart and tells it like it is. He's not like some of the men in many sitcoms today that don't know what they want. He's a man's man -- he doesn't talk a lot and he likes to watch television after a hard day's work. He does have a soft side, though and takes the time to love his family and his wife. In one memorable episode, his wife finds out that he has been secretly taking care of a cat at work. He says that it's no big deal but it just shows his style of doing things quietly, without much fuss.

I Would Recommend This Show

With its combination of farcial humour, anecdotal wisdom and Father Knows Best wholesomeness, I would definitely recommend this show. It features very good comedic acting, good writing and a realistic portrayal of middle class America. It's quirky and enjoyable: a little gem. It also shows a family that goes to church on a regular basis, an allusion to Christian values in a subtle manner.

My only complaint about it would be that sometimes the characters are a little too weird, especially Sue. Her earnestness is sometimes so hard to watch because she never seems to learn from her social mistakes. I would give the show a four out of five. If you haven't seen it, I would suggest that you give it a look.

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Comments 18 comments

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I am so glad someone did a review of this show, I LOVE it!! My favourite character is Sue, I just feel so sorry for her sometimes.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

MelChi, thanks for the comment! I love it, too. I know Sue is so sweet. I just wish they'd give her a break once in a while but I remember being that awkward. Thanks again!


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

Haha, same here - I guess that's why I like her the most, I can relate! :)


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

MelChi, me too! Have a wonderful day!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

We've been watching The Middle for over a year, we get it on Comedy Central on satellite TV over here. it is much gentler that Everybody Loves Raymond but I think I preferred her playing Deb to Frankie. Frankie is lovely though and quite scatty and normal and I love Mike, her husband (I also loved him as Janitor in Scrubs -he was very funny). What's especially nice is that it is not set in a big city so its much more homely and the way it concentrates on family life, school, their community and work is also very realistic.

Voted uo, etc. Enjoyed this hub very much.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

We watch this show and have been for a couple of years now. Living in the Midwest and growing up as "Middle America" has made this a show that we can definitely relate to in our house. It really is good for some laughs and many of the situations are very typical of the "average" family. Nice review.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

@Jools, you found out about it a lot sooner than I did. Yes, you are right. The setting does seem very typical of many families and that is probably part of why it's so popular. Have a great night!

@Cardelean, hey, that's cool that your family watches it with you. Yes, it really is a very relate-able show. Have a great night. Nice to meet a fellow fan!


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

I just found this review and am pleased I did. The only comedy I watch with any regularity is The Middle. It present situations in the extreme, but always settles them with a smile on everyone's face. It's one of the true "family" shows on TV today.

Great Review!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Rcrumple, thanks for the comment! That's neat that this is your only show, so to speak. I agree -- it is such a great family show, and there are few of them out there. Have a great day!


my 4 years ago

My husband and I really enjoy The Middle it is the only sitcom we watch sorry to say there is so much crap. On any more


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

My, thanks for stopping by . I agree that it really one a great show to watch. Have a wonderful day!


RaethMorgan profile image

RaethMorgan 2 years ago from Everywhere and Nowhere

I enjoy watching "The Middle" as much as the next person. unfortunately this is just a rehashed "Malcolm In The Middle". You have the genius kid (Brick/Malcolm), the idiotic kid (Axl/Reese) but instead of the troublemaker (Francis) you have a shy and insecure kid (Sue). I don't blame Hollywood for the similarities because there is only so many ways to change the 7 basic plots


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@RaethMorgan, there certainly are many similarities between the two shows! It almost seems like the producers don't even try to hide it...even the show's names are so close. I do prefer The Middle show ... I just find the writing is stronger, and there is more of a moral message running through it. A gentler version, if you will.

Thank you so very much for the comment. I apologize for not replying to your comment sooner. I have been consumed with work, and very far behind in commenting.


RaethMorgan profile image

RaethMorgan 2 years ago from Everywhere and Nowhere

FYI watch the episode with Ray Romano. He tells Patricia "if we were only married in an alternate life" or something to that effect.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@RaethMorgan, that's hilarious! I haven't seen that one. I am really enjoying see Romano in the show, ParentHood now. He plays the straight man very well. Have a great day!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

@RaethMorgan, that's hilarious! I haven't seen that one. I am really enjoying see Romano in the show, ParentHood now. He plays the straight man very well. Have a great day!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I had to pop in on this article, my hubby and I love this show! The family represents the average family lifestyle, a little extreme at times, but so common. I can't tell you how much laughter it's brought into our home. Loved your review of the characters, it's right on target.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada Author

Dianna, you are so right! The show is so real, and that it is why it is appealing. So nice to meet a fellow fan. I think it's a great show for kids, too. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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