I don’t think we British people truly get The Middle. It gives us a glimpse of American culture that is not as dressed-up as in other tv comedies we receive from across the pond. And that is why it is my favourite show.
I’m such a traitor but *whispers* I much prefer American TV to British TV. Doctor Who, Downton Abbey etc bore me silly. We have some of the best classic comedy in the form of Fawlty Towers and Father Ted, which takes risks and taps into our darkest sense of humour perfectly. But I think in general, British TV lacks something that American shows give to me.
Enter The Middle. I remember the first time I watched it was when I was home from uni for the weekend to go to my great uncle’s funeral- so God knows I needed a laugh. And this show, that just happened to be on after The Simpsons, gave me that. I called my mum through and we watched the next episode together. As we got more and more into the show, and loved the characters, I began to feel like the Hecks were my own family.
You have an exhausted mum, Frankie, who is trying her very hardest to keep up with the parenting styles of the Joneses (well, the Donoghues) next door. She almost has an image of who the perfect mum should be, and she’s accepted that she’s not it. However, in some ways she is more than perfect. In her narration there is universal wisdom that states that you do the best with what you’ve got. And you can tell that this is a character who every day is grateful for her family, even when they drive her crazy.
Frankie’s husband Mike reminds me of my own dad so well, except that Mike is much more useful at fixing things! He is withdrawn, and doesn’t like to tap into emotions too often. He believes that sport brings people together, but despite that still takes the time to watch Twilight with his daughter or take his bookworm son to a book fair.
Oldest son Axl seems at first to sum up the ‘me generation’. There is no one greater than ‘The Ax Man’. Again, however, we see another side to him. On one hand he seems constantly out for himself, and is unbelievably cruel on occasion to his younger siblings. But, on probably more occasions, we see him following his mother’s mantra of ‘you do for family’. He acts like a brat, but isn’t really one and that’s what makes him such a dynamic character: he has all the potential to be the cocky ‘jock’ but we know really that he’s not.
The youngest, often forgotten, son Brick is a classic example of a kid on the autistic spectrum (my mum’s an autism expert). He has quirks, he needs a lot of extra help and he is utterly obsessed with books. His parents have accepted him for who he is, but they are constantly terrified that the wider world won’t. But Brick does just fine. He gets by, every time.
And lastly, we have one of the finest characters written for television: Sue Sue Heck. Sue is simultaneously who I was in school and who I wish I could have been. Sue is often ignored or overlooked, she has the worst luck and try as hard as she might, she just can’t fit in anywhere. When I felt ignored (someone did once sit on me at school) or down on my luck, I shut myself away and pined. Sue gets back up and tries and tries again. You can tell she’s hurt, but she believes that she is worth so much more. How many shows have a girl her age who gets rejected by a boy or doesn’t make a school play, and then by the end of the episode is cheered up by an attractive boy telling her she is amazing and beautiful? Sue doesn’t need that. She is more beautiful than all the 90210 girls combined because she has this relentless spirit that always sees the best in people, and best of all, in herself. She rarely pines, she always smiles and she is utterly undeserving of the way she gets treated. But, she has her family to stick up for her and show how wonderful a person she is. Even if they forget her birthday.
watching The Middle for Neil Flynn and I have no regrets
you know you’re a scrubs fan when you watch The Middle just for Neil Flynn