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October 13, 2015

The Middle Thanksgiving was an instant classic

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 26th 2009 4:00PM
the_middle_couchThere was something refreshingly pedestrian about last night's episode of The Middle. It wasn't about abundance and excess, because as a middle-class situation comedy, the current economic state doesn't reflect having plenty and living beyond your means. Frankie and Mike are doing their best to get by. But they're not bitching about it. That's part of the reason why I'm enjoying this show so much. Like me, Jason also liked this episode quite a bit.

Frankie had to work on Thanksgiving, that's true, and she did protest about that, but not the fact that the family has to plot out their Black Friday shopping at the mall to get every bargain imaginable. They don't complain about being strapped. They accept that they have to cut coupons and be thrifty.

Like the remnant carpet for the bedroom as an anniversary gift, The Hecks are accepting of their middle class.

Another Thanksgiving tradition was evoked by The Middle, but with their unique and more realistic twist. Frankie is not a great cook. Her pies are from the freezer case at the grocery store. The cranberry sauce comes out of a can. So do the peas. The mashed potatoes are instant. And instead of complaining, her family loved her Thanksgiving spread. Every house does Thanksgiving differently, and many do not look like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Then, there was what I guess is a midwest tradition -- the corn maze. I grew up in New York and never heard of it, but the idea sounded like a seasonal bit of fun. Axl was forced to take Brick and while flirting with a girl, Axl lost his little brother. Hey, it happens. It could have been at the mall or a state fair, but the corn maze was so Indiana that it just felt like something that may have actually happened to one of the writers. And Axl's reaction when he found Brick was wonderful; he hugged his little brother and told him he loved him... and he kept on saying it, although he didn't want anyone else to hear.

As a holiday episode, it also had a quirky end. Yes, the family banded together to make the dinner while Frankie was stuck at work. But she was so plastered by the shots she had been forced to share with Mr. Elhert, her boss, that she spent the night passed out over the commode. In her foggy recollection, the family reported a successful trip to the mall for the early morning sales and she remained prone on the tile, blissfully happy for them and still hungover. Happy Turkey Day!

For me, this was an instant classic. Make that an instant mashed potato classic.

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I agree with the Thanksgiving Classic comments. I love this show and it's one of the very few that my whole family can watch together without having to worry about vulgar content. My one nitpick, however, is in the portrayal once again of Indiana as a small town, corn field infested state. Indiana has many large cities, including my own area NW IN (part of the greater Chicago area) that are highly industrialized. I venture to guess that lots of families in Indiana (including my own) have NEVER been to a corn maze, but the panic and subsequent relief Axel felt when he lost Brick was still heartwarming regardless.

November 30 2009 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

I love watching The Middle with my son, because he gets to laugh hearing his own words coming out of Axl's mouth every week. He even has the annoying little brother who he loves in a very internal sort of way. To be honest, I don't remember many corn mazes after Halloween in the mid-west, but I was willing to forgive, because Sue kept squealing about her OMG BF! And, that made me laugh a lot. I'm so glad Bob didn't have to go to Hometown Buffet and share his table with a widower. :)

November 30 2009 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the most entertaining show on television.
I never in a million years thought I could see Janitor as any other character, but the guy pulls it off!
Patricia Heaton is still adorable. And Brick....outdoes Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle as best child character evah.

November 27 2009 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For me, this is the only breaksout 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 udnerlying 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 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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