Monday, March 7, 2011

Get stuck in "The Middle"

The Middle is a comedy about the Heck family set in the small town of Orson, Indiana. The characters are among my favorite on TV, and the cast is extremely talented and funny. Parents Frankie (Patricia Heaton), a car salesperson, and Mike (Neil Flynn), manager of a limestone quarry, face the everyday madness and exhaustion of raising three kids. Sixteen-year-old Axl (Charlie McDermott) lounges around the house in his boxers and is in a phase where "everyone and everything is lame." Even though he is almost always picking on his younger siblings, he occasionally shows how much he cares for them-- giving Sue his old football jersey, or telling Brick how much he loves him when he briefly loses him in a corn maze. Thirteen-year-old Sue (Eden Sher) is in junior high and very enthusiastic about school clubs, even though she never makes the cut. A running joke throughout the series is how nobody, from teachers to fellow students, is able to remember her. Eden Sher does a great job of portraying Sue's awkwardness, and you can't help but admire her positive attitude and root for her. Nine-year-old Brick (Atticus Shaffer) is happiest buried in a book and doesn't try to hide or apologize for his antisocial personality. "Okay. I'm done talking to you now," he tells a boy his age. He often whispers the last word of a sentence to himself, which everyone else finds really weird but he thinks is soothing (soothing!).

In one of the special features, "Raising a Sitcom Family," co-creators Eileen Heisler & DeAnn Heline talk about how the show is their "love letter to the Midwest." I think they did a great job on these season 1 episodes. Axl, Sue, and Brick actually look like kids you'd see in the neighborhood. Their near constant bickering is almost too real, as it reminds me of when I fought with my younger sister and brother over the tiniest things. I love Mike's honest reactions to the often ridiculous drama of teenagers. The relationship between Frankie and Mike is great to watch because unlike many shows where the husband and wife whine about each other's shortfalls, this is a marriage where they try to solve problems together. I also appreciate the details in the show's set design, with its messy kitchen table and counters. You know, I think it is the messiness of The Middle that makes the show so easy to relate to and so entertaining to watch. If you haven't already checkout out this show, now in its second season on ABC, I recommend you watch these season 1 episodes!

The Middle - Season 1
Find it in the catalog!