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Lisa Steinberg

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TV For the Family

Posted: 01/23/2012 5:04 pm

Whatever happened to the days when you could sit around the table or the couch and watch a family program that everyone could enjoy? It seems that this cherished family ritual has fallen by the wayside and it's been replaced with eating in our rooms with TV dinners. It's long overdue for families to take back the tradition of quality TV time together by sitting down to watch the fun filled program, The Middle. The show revolves around a middle American family, the Hecks, and there is guaranteed to be at least one character that you can relate to. No family is perfect, and that is certainly apparent with the Hecks, but if you can laugh and learn a lesson all at the same time, family fun night is fulfilled!

With most television networks riddled with procedural cop or medical dramas, ABC steps out of the box and brings the family closer together with the show The Middle. Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn team up as parents living in Indiana with hapless kids Axl (Charlie McDermott), the under achiever, Sue (Eden Sher), the wannabe, and Brick (Atticus Shaffer) the over achiever. Heaton, who is famously known as beloved matriarch Patty from Everybody Loves Raymond takes on another nurturing role, this time as the forlorn Frankie who never gets enough support and help from her family. In fact, Frankie is not only a mom; she is working mom who is stuck in a dead end job as a car salesman. Flynn, the sarcastic and smug janitor from highly touted show Scrubs, carries on the snark and smarm as Mike who is a quarry manager and likes to live life by his own set of rules. Frankie and Mike love one another deeply and they do the best they can to encourage their kids and keep them on the straight and narrow, but end up loosing their minds in doing so and some times learn lessons of their own. McDermott plays the teenager with a 'tude, who sees life as everything should be handed to him. He lives for his guitar, strutting around in his underwear, and doing as little as possible while at home and at school. Sher stars as the well intentioned Sue who will try her hand at just about anything in order to be popular, or at least fit in. Never one to take no for an answer, she powers through endless rejections by her peers and the clubs they reign over in an attempt to not be an underdog. Finally there is the book worm Brick who would rather be having his fingers flipping through books then using them to play a video game or sport. While he may be brainy, he lacks social skills and cues that come with interaction from actual humans, and not objects.

They may not be your typical archetype for what you say on TV, but that's because they are not perfect, and that's what resonates so well with viewers. Real families are not perfect. Every family has the same crazy catastrophic moments that the Heck family goes through. Whether it's dealing with a dirty house, a broken household item, a school project being done at the last minute, or a family vacation gone awry, the Heck family represents American families and all of their dysfunctions and mess. Not only that, they teach us weekly how we can learn and laugh from the life lessons we encounter on a daily basis.

Core values mixed with light hearted humor is the right recipe for the fantastically family centered show The Middle, and for families who want to get back to quality time together. It gives you characters and situations your entire family can relate to and combines it with light hearted humor. I, for one, am happy to be stuck in The Middle with the Hecks. Bring the family together for quality time and let The Middle show you a Heck of a time!

 

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