What makes the ABC comedy The Middle so relatable is the characters. No single one is more important than another. It’s the family unit as a whole where we truly see a little of ourselves.
Wednesday’s episode, Hecking Order, really hit home with me. During last week’s season premiere, we found Frankie reminiscing about the Heck family’s summer vacation. There was definitely family bonding going on but it didn’t really carry on to the start of the school year like Frankie envisioned.
This week’s episode focused heavily on Sue and her acclimation to high school. Since most of us have been there at some point, it was very easy to relate to her this week. Sue has just begun high school and she now shares the hallways with her uber-popular brother, Axl. He makes her sink down to the floorboard of his car whenever they drive within one mile of the school parking lot. Sue takes it in stride. However, when I look back to my school years, I see much of myself, my family and my friends reflected in all of the Heck clan. In the moment, we have no idea how nerdy, uncanny or just plain weird we appear to others. In hindsight, we cringe. At least I did.
The first day of high school. Absolutely terrifying. New school. New rules. New name for tater tots? Over a family fast food dinner, Sue recalls all of her first day freshman mistakes. She can’t get to her locker and to class on time, so she decides to carry an unarguably unhealthy backpack loaded to the breaking point with textbooks. At this point, I began to have sympathy pains. Sue’s happy go lucky spirit make her all the more relatable. It’s the foresight that we have as an audience, to be able to predict her next move that makes her a great character. Axl didn’t take well to Sue’s excitement about being in the same school. But that’s just Axl being Axl – and an older brother.
Brick is also going through some changes at school. His teacher is hip, young and worst of all for Brick, male. Brick’s worried about having to catch the “answer ball” in order to participate in class. For an avid reader who will do anything to avoid gym class, it’s a pretty valid concern. Mike decides that a parent-teacher conference is in order. It does not go well. Mike and the teacher don’t see eye-to-eye. Mike’s “do as I say” approach doesn’t mesh well with the new teacher’s emotional, subjective ways. Brick has had similar issues at school before; as have his parents in dealing with his teachers. With the way things looked after the end of episode two, I predict more parent-teacher conferences for all of the kids this season.
What do you think of the season so far?