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August 27, 2014

Family TV Guide: 'The Middle'

by Rich Keller, posted Mar 7th 2011 4:00PM
The Family Heck: Frankie, Axl, Sue, Mike and Brick'The Middle'
Network: ABC
Air Date: Wednesday, 8PM ET
Starring: Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Eden Sher, Atticus Shaffer, Charlie McDermott
TV Rating: Between G and PG, depending on the episode's language or situation

What's It All About?
The Hecks are a middle-income, middle-class family of five living in a middle-American suburb in Indiana. Though Mike and Frankie Heck work multiple jobs to make ends meet, they still find time to be in the lives of their three children: Sue, a junior high schooler who seems to be invisible to the rest of the students as well as the teachers; Axl, their 16-year-old son who tends to walk around in just his underwear while at home; and Brick, their very intelligent third-grader who likes to read, has social issues and repeats words in a stage whisper.

Examples of previous episode topics include Frankie and Mike juggling multiple jobs; Sue trying to get into an R-rated movie; Axl incorporating his hot biology teacher into a video without her knowledge and Brick asking his parents to find him a friend. Though obstacles are encountered throughout the episode, things tend to be wrapped up in a pleasant way by the end of the show.

What the Family TV Guide Thinks
There are very few original family comedies currently on the air right now; especially ones that can appeal to all ages. Luckily, ABC tried to rectify that two seasons ago by launching both 'The Middle' and 'Modern Family' on Wednesday nights. The results have been very successful.

While using a modern take, 'The Middle' pulls from the vast expanse of comedy material other family sitcoms produced over the last 60 years. In doing so, it's created a gentle and funny series that can appeal to both adults and kids alike.

Parental Concerns
Other than an occasional "crap," "hell" or "ass," there isn't much to be concerned about when it comes to language. Same can be said for the situations the family faces. Again, very little has been tackled that couldn't be viewed by all ages. Not even the typical sitcom topic of sex has come up yet!

Topics for Discussion
The Economy: It's no secret that folks in America had their collective booties kicked over the last few years. The Hecks are an example of how the bad economy has affected families. Your kids may ask why Mike and Frankie are working multiple jobs.

Puberty: Both Sue and Axl are going through puberty, but in much different ways. Talk to your younger children about puberty and what they may expect over the next few years.

Everyone Is Special: Though it sounds corny, 'The Middle' promotes the concept that everyone, despite their quirks, is special and loved. This is particularly true with the Heck's younger son, Brick. You may need to bring this up if they question his idiosyncrasies.

If You Like 'The Middle' You Might Also Enjoy: 'Good Luck Charlie,' 'Modern Family,' 'Working Class' and 'The Simpsons.'

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Jim Nelson

The Middle is one of the more underrated shows on TV. Neither the format nor the subject matter are particularly original, but it does what it does extremely well. It's a funny, good-hearted show that deserves a lot more buzz than it gets.

March 07 2011 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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