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October 8, 2015

'The Middle' - 'The Final Four' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 1st 2010 5:50AM
'The Middle'(S01E19) So I asked my wife the equivalent question to what Mike and Frankie spent most of the episode fighting over, and by her answer she sided with Mike ... which makes me incredibly suspicious. I think she's just being nice to me because nothing like that is really happening.

When given an amazing opportunity, Mike was forced to choose between something he really wanted to do and something he probably really should do. It's a much harder decision when the something wanted is an incredibly rare opportunity. It's not like he's being offered an opportunity to be Tiger Woods' next mistress (ba-dump ching!).

Actually, the fighting in the episode left me a little uncomfortable. It was a lot more real than it was funny. While I applaud 'The Middle' for being so authentic in married life with Frankie and Mike, it can make you a little squirmy from time to time.

Sue and Brick's madcap scheme to get Brick out of and into and out of that party reminded me of some of the stunts my brother, sister and I would get up to. I remember playing my stepfather on more than one occasion over the phone. Sometimes we'd get caught and sometimes we'd actually pull it off. I never cracked and admitted who I really was; Sue is one of a kind.

It showed us a more scheming and devious side of Brick. Usually he just doesn't really care and goes along for the ride. So now we know what happens when you push him into a corner he doesn't want to be in: he corrupts his innocent older sister into being his accomplice. Brick's going to be an incredibly dangerous teenager.

As for that fight over Mike wanting to go to the Final Four basketball games over Frankie's great uncle's funeral -- I kind of have to side with Mike on this one. From what I could tell, Mike didn't really know the guy, and even though he does live in Indiana, it's still a pretty rare opportunity to get to see the Final Four live and in person. I found myself seeing traces of Debra Barone -- Patricia Heaton's character from 'Everybody Loves Raymond' -- in Frankie, and I never liked Debra. In fact, my dislike of Debra led to me not wanting to give Heaton a chance on this show; luckily she won me over pretty quickly.

I can understand that the funeral was important to her, but "I don't want you to go because I want you to go. I want you to go because you want to go?" That's about the most horrific line of logic I've ever seen. Thankfully, she went clearly into the absurd when she started shouting that she wanted him to be happy to go to a funeral, so at least the show knew she was crossing some lines of realistic expectations.

It's even making me uncomfortable writing about it. I don't want 'The Middle' to delve into this darker stuff too often, though it was handled beautifully. I believe in the Hecks as real characters, and they absolutely acted like real people throughout this conflict, but it also reduced the laughs considerably.

Luckily, Aunt Edie was there to bring it all home with her conviction that her brother's funeral service was actually a gathering for her birthday. Speaking of realism, I think we're going to have some very real moments in the near future about one or both of these aunts. Edie's gone downhill considerably even since we first met her earlier this season.

I'm proud of 'The Middle' for showing us this more raw side of relationships; something spearheaded to great affect by 'Roseanne,' which also featured a typical working family from the Midwest. It takes a talented roster of actors to pull off realism in the midst of comedy, and this show's got them. Let's just have a few more laughs next time. We're running out of episodes this season, and I'm going to miss my time with the Hecks.

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I laughed all the way through the argument precisely because it reminded me of real life. The argument scenes were still funny because they never took themselves too seriously. In part, I was laughing at myself, recollecting similar situations in my own life. This is a big part of the charm of the show for me. We shouldn't always require humor that isn't "Malcom in the Middle" over-the-top.

April 01 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I live in a small town and that rang so true. Everyone goes to the funeral home and pays their respects when someone you know dies. Or even if it's the relative of someone you know.
This show gets better every week.

April 01 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm another one who didn't watch this show when it first started because I couldn't stand "Debra". I started watching around episode 3 and really like it except for when the writers show they have precious little knowledge of Indiana. However, this was the worst episode this season in my opinion. I would never ask my husband to give up Final Four tickets for a 91 yr. old uncle of mine's funeral that he barely knew. I wouldn't make my kids attend the funeral either especially as they made it apparent the kids didn't know the uncle either. I guess they were trying for the "small midwestern town" idea of family is important and everyone goes to every funeral, but I don't think that's true anymore even in small midwestern towns. Maybe it was in 1960, but not today. The only part I found funny was the Sue/Brick stuff, but then again Sue and Brick make this show. Hopefully, it will be back to normal next week.

April 01 2010 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When the episode began I immediately thought about the Super Bowl episode of Raymond where Ray doesn't bring Debra at first.

I think that Mike playing Axel in the beginning and then saying to Frankie that of course he was taking her was a little nod to that episode.

April 01 2010 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jean frank

Hey Jason,

I am on Mike (and your wife's) side, too. For me, it would come down to the fact no one else was sure who died save Frankie....and how often does the average person get to do something like the Final Four? Once in a life time. And considering how Mike helps Frankie with her family...doing his books etc, there are other ways he could be supportive. But her arguments were tired at times.


April 01 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with you the fight between Mike and Frankie was so real.

I love the Brick and Sue moments, they were so hilarious!

April 01 2010 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with you.."my dislike of Debra led to me not wanting to give Heaton a chance on this show". I haven't seen this show but decided to finally watch last night. Disappointed..not that many laughs. I may give it another chance...the kids really crack me up..especially Sue.

April 01 2010 at 9:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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