Review: The Middle - The Jeans
by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 7th 2010 11:20AM
(S01E11) Oh good lord, the kids and their need to fit in. As a parent to someone who's not a teenager, this show is starting to make me think I might need to sell him off to foreign interests sooner rather than later. Maybe that's because mine already acts more like Brick than I'd care to imagine, and I can only imagine how much of a handful he'll turn out to be.
Mike and Frankie already seem overwhelmed by Axl and Sue. It was a refreshing, if nefarious, change to see Axl dressed, smiling and helpful. But like his parents, I was a little too slow on the draw to see what he was truly up to. As for Sue, well her scenario was far more classic teenager.
In fact, that whole storyline was classic sitcom as well. Still, I liked how Sue revealed the shrunken jeans; stuck to a blanket via static cling in the dryer. At least that element I can relate to -- damn, I hate when you forget the dryer sheets!
Both Eden Sher (Sue) and Charlie McDermott (Axl) were given some really meaty dramatic elements to play with, and it was pleasing to see that both young actors were up to the task. We've grown to expect it from Eden, but this has been the most Axl has had to do yet, and every nuance of the emotional ups and downs Axl went through was handled brilliantly.
The show did a good job of showcasing the differing values of men and women as well. As a man, I tend to side with Mike that a car is a far more practical purchase than a pair of jeans, though I would never spend $112 for either. That Axl's car almost made it to his first date was a miracle.
Mike was right about the girl he was dating, too. As a parent, I think you wouldn't be able to help but be proud of your kid for scoring such a hot girlfriend, while feeling a bit embarrassed that you care that much. Still, I don't think the hotness of my son's girlfriend will dictate whether or not I buy him a car, regardless of how cheaply I can find one. I liked the whole "earning" it element a hell of a lot better.
Brick's storyline brought back Doris, Aunts Edie and Ginny's dog. I love that old oxygen-mask-wearing, red-wagon-riding-in dog! And once again, the writers nailed the absent-minded aspect of childhood, particularly in a child as gifted and off-the-wall as Brick. It made it easy to keep the recurring gag going of someone asking him about the dog and Brick looking googly-eyed because he had no idea.
The set-up to this was great as he begged and begged his parents to let him watch the dog, and then by the time they agreed -- which was really only mere moments -- he had no idea what they were talking about at first. I love me some Atticus Shaffer and I really missed this crazy kid over the holidays.
That storyline ended up in the surreal, as Doris apparently disappeared into the laundry room, where no one saw or heard her giving birth to a litter of eight-week old puppies. It was for the best though, as after watching Frankie try to stretch out Sue's shrunken jeans by pulling them onto her body, I think Sue was in for a bit of disappointment if she thought she was still going to be able to put them on for her drama club call-back.