The Middle (class)

ABC’s The Middle is one of the best sitcoms on television.  This show is one of the best on television because it does not glorify their working/middle class status or family life, but depicts it for how it truly is (with a bit of irony and sarcasm added, of course). I’m clearly not the only one who praises this show as it has been on the air since 2009 and has just been renewed for its ninth season.

The Family

The show chronicles the life of the Heck family as they struggle in their daily lives. Frankie Heck, the mother/wife of the household, begins the series as a used-car salesman (and not a very good one at that). Eventually she becomes a dental hygienist through lots of hard work and struggles. Frankie tries to be a positive role model for her children and often times finds herself juggling too many responsibilities. Her husband Mike works at a local quarry and often serves as the voice of reason in the household. He’s extremely sarcastic, and not an overly affectionate person, which often causes strain in his marriage and in the household in general.

Then there’s the quirky three children. Axl is the oldest. He’s depicted as the typical jock. He’s a star player on the football team. He doesn’t like to apply himself in school and is obsessed with girls. He’s often doesn’t appreciate what his parents do for him (especially his mother) which also causes strain in the family. The middle child is Sue, who greatly contrasts Axl. She is always peppy and has a can-do attitude. She has tried out for virtually every sport, but lacks any impressive physical ability. She loves and appreciates her parents and even thinks that they go ‘too easy’ on her (so she ends up grounding herself). Brick is the youngest child. He is extremely intelligent for his age but lacks social skills. His parents try to inform him of social norms, but most of the time Brick has to encounter them for himself before the message sets in.

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Why We Love It

The family lives paycheck to paycheck and often has to cut extra spending that would put them over budget. They live in a modestly sized house with the familiar clutter that many middle class families love/hate. The house is extremely outdated, but the family can’t afford to put money towards a new dishwasher or cupboards, so they make due with what they have.

The Middle is such a success because it follows the life of a family that many people can relate with. The Heck family is a middle class family that has money issues, which resonates with a great chunk of Americans. The show began during the Great Recession, so many families struggled/ continue to struggle with money like the Heck family.

The family is clearly imperfect, but what family isn’t? Or maybe you have the perfect family that never worries about money and just think that the witty remarks in the show are comical and that’s why you tune in every week.

The last category probably doesn’t fit the profile of many viewers of The Middle because the sitcom is mostly targeted at the middle class population. It incorporates elements of the classic American Dream that people know and love as Frankie works her way up from crappy cars salesman to a higher paying job. It also partially encompasses the idea that love conquers all because at the end of the day all that the Heck family needs is each other.

Most importantly, The Middle shows its viewers that even if you’re going through tough times in your work, marriage, school, family, bank account (etc.) you will be okay. Sometimes we forget that and need to be reminded. This sitcom clearly does that which is why it has become a staple of ABC’s prime time line up for the past 8 years.

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