What Patricia Heaton is doing right in The Middle
by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 17th 2009 9:03AM
I wasn't really prepared to like The Middle. I had no expectations, really, because aside from knowing that it was Patricia Heaton's latest sitcom, there had been very little scuttlebutt about it. So, when I tuned in, I expected the typical Patty Heaton I had seen for years on Everybody Loves Raymond or the upscale version I'd watched on Back to You.
Well, what a surprise when I saw her on The Middle. This is a Patty I had never seen before, and I not only liked her character, I admire her performance.
On The Middle, there's nothing about Frankie Heck that's particularly positive or pretty or fun. The character has a tough life, even if she does love her family and manage to muddle through. Still, Frankie's not a downer. But to Heaton's credit, she's also not a carbon copy of other working class moms. She's not doing Roseanne and she's not Jane Kaczmarek in Malcolm in the Middle. Frankie's her own creation.
Not to kick a guy while he's down, but Heaton's former costar on Back To You, Kelsey Grammer, might've been smart to take a lesson from her. On Hank, Grammer should have stretched and done something different with the character. Instead, he's just a variation on himself. He's shown his limitations. Heaton, on the other hand, has shown her range. Good for Patty. She's made The Middle worth watching.