Yes, I admit it. The high point of my week is watching the Wednesday night ABC family comedy, The Middle. Every Wednesday, after we come home from the proverbial hard day at work, my family and I flop down on the couch and chortle hysterically for an unabashed 22 minutes as we watch this hilarious romp about a semi-functional family set in middle America.
In case you have not seen it, The Middle is a comedy about a harried middle-class mom trying to keep things together for her family of three crazy kids and sports-minded husband, set in an ordinary Indiana town in middle-America, hence, The Middle. The characters have all the usual things come up that most parents go through with child-rearing, except these parents are so over-stretched and disorganized, that even the simplest things become a project.
Part of what appeals to me about the show is that I can identify with every character. Growing up I was just a little bit like Brick, the nerdy, socially awkward bookworm kid. When I see Sue, the painfully clumsy teen, I wonder how the writers of The Middle were able to watch me growing up without my knowing it. And Axl, the underachiever teen boy was on every single group project I ever did in school.
Of course, as a mom, I’m nothing like Frankie, who lets her kids walk all over her, disciplines inconsistently, and serves her family fast food from paper bags night after night. Yet, I can identify because she’s the mom who finds out she’s supposed to bring 2-dozen cupcakes to school as her kids are walking out the door. Her teenage son doesn’t want to be seen with her in public. Her daughter Sue is always getting herself into embarrassing social situations from which Frankie tries vainly to protect her. Her near-Asperger’s son Brick is such a social misfit that she stalks kids at the playground, trying to find him a friend. What mom has not been in shoes like these at some point in her mom career? And Frankie’s motto – “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest kid,” pretty much says it all.
I’m not a big TV fan in general, and found this show by accident last season on a night where I was too tired to do anything but flip channels. This is a skill I learned from my teenage sons, by the way. It never occurred to me to watch snippets of 20 shows at once until I saw them do it, as of course I did not have a remote, or more than two channels, when I was their age. Anyway, one minute I was in post-work catatonia, and the next minute laughing so uproariously that my family came in from other parts of the house to find out what was going on. Needless to say, we’ve all been Middle fans ever since, even watching the reruns and laughing heartily at a show we’ve already seen.
What qualities in a TV show warm you heart and make you identify with the characters? For me, it’s the loyal, unfailing love the parents have for their kids on the crazy show, The Middle.
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