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December 20, 2014

Review: The Middle - Thanksgiving

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 26th 2009 1:00PM
The Middle: Thanksgiving(S01E09) While I'm not ready to declare that The Middle is a superior sitcom to Modern Family, if this episode is any indication, I'm ready to say that it's every bit as good. And funny! Man, was this a brilliant holiday episode. I don't know how Thanksgivings go at your house, but ours have gone very much like this one at times. With everyone busy, and family members having to work because they have terrible bosses.

I swear, it's like these writers haven't set this in Indiana, but rather in my own Midwestern backyard. And while things were traditionally set up, as we'd expect, for the traditional "sweet comedy" outcomes, The Middle turned some of those conventions on their head.

They also showed us a new way to cook a turkey, though I'm not really sure if it would work all that well. And there's nothing wrong with Axl loving the can-shaped cranberry sauce. That's my favorite, too! Just slice it up and you're good to go.

Just like Mike's dad, my grandmother never wanted to be a bother, but we usually wound up going and picking her up to join us. My grandmother, however, was a bit of a neat freak. As a huge fan of Hoarders on A&E, I was a little surprised when they just announced that Mike's dad had the condition. They did a pretty good job of making his yard and what little of his house we saw match up with that problem. I wonder if they'll delve deeper into the problem at any point.

The main problem, though, was that everyone is by nature selfish, while Frankie, by her nature as a mother, was not. Mr. Ehlert wanted the dealership open to make money, Axl wanted to go snowboarding, Brick wanted to go to the corn maze and Sue -- well, Sue's not like other girls. And her new boyfriend is not like other boyfriends. I loved Mike's line of "She'll figure it out. Or he will."

It's weird, but I'm actually looking forward to watching these kids grow up and spending many more holidays with them. It's like this episode cemented my love for the Heck family. Axl showed some humanity, sprinkled with teenage hormones, when he genuinely cared about having lost Brick in the corn. But what was up with the creepy old dude lamenting his lost brother. Was he just there to mess with Axl, or does he perhaps return to that corn maze every year in the hopes of finding his missing family?

The convention getting turned was Mr. Ehlert's revelation that his wife left him. I, like Frankie, assumed that was why he left the dealership open, and that we were getting the traditional reveal that he's a bit of a softy underneath that gruff exterior. But she left him because he wanted to keep the dealership open. So he's just a jerk; I love it!

I would have never guessed Chris Kattan would be great at playing a sad sack character, but he's really made Bob into an essential part of the extended Middle family, so I'm glad to see him becoming more and more a part of their family events. It may not have turned out a perfect Thanksgiving, drunk and on the bathroom floor for Frankie, but it was a perfect Thanksgiving episode of what's quickly rising toward the top among my favorite shows.

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Mike

For me, this is the only breakout comedy of the season.
Some of the writers have got to be Midwesterners (and not Chicago Midwesterners) because they are spot on with the parodies of the life.
Frankie cooks like my mom used to. The underlying theme of the love in the recipe is what makes it good.
And the joyful collaboration of Sue and her new boyfriend (!) is at once both cool for the joy of it and the blissful ignorance of the implied manliness of the fella. "His parents are just so happy he has a girlfriend." This has got to help her grow and adds to the depth of her character. We are getting some finely-defined characters here and some great consistencies.

November 27 2009 at 5:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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