Saying Goodbye to the Middle

 

I don’t watch a lot of television.  Not because I don’t want to.  I just don’t have the time.  I do have some shows that I try to watch each week (thank you DVR), like “Family GuyFamily Guy” and “Brockmire” and “Modern Family,” shows I really enjoy.  Last year my wife and I binge-watched all of “Breaking Bad” over a 6 week period and loved it.  We’ve also gone through three seasons of “Better Call Saul,” which we also binged, and are waiting impatiently for AMC to announce when season four starts.   These last two shows we really enjoyed, but watching them over so short a period you don’t really grow up with them.  This was not true of our relationship with the Heck family, the stars of “the Middle.”

The story of Mike (Neil Flynn) and Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) and their three children – Axl, Sue and Brick – “the Middle” was an amazing look into middle class life in middle-America.  Set in Indiana, the show gave an honest look into a family where mom is well intended, dad loves watching his football and each of the kids have their own distinct possibilities.

For nine seasons we watched as Axl (Charlie McDermott) went from cool and confident high school football star to slightly less cool and confident college football player to a young man setting out on his own in the world.  Meanwhile, the always optimistic Sue (Eden Sher) was always cheerful, no matter what life put in front of her.  And then there was Brick (Atticus Shaffer), publicly awkward but an avid reader and someone who never seemed to let the little things life threw at him keep him down, like having to sit in a lawn chair at the dinner table because the dining set only came with four chairs.  As well acted as these roles were, and as well written as the show was, I was shocked to learn that it had only been nominated for ONE EMMY AWARD – for makeup!!!  Hopefully in this last season Emmy voters will realize they’ve lost a classic and honor the show.

(l-f) Heaton, Flynn, McDermott, Sher and Shaffer

We followed the Hecks from highs and lows, through ups and downs, and we felt with them because they underwent pretty much everything every family goes through at one time.  And they usually solved the problem with one word: love.  Despite the unusual reactions to sometimes simple things, each episode would end with an affirmation of the family’s love for each other.  This gave the viewer an emotional bond and I’m not ashamed to say that both my wife and I were crying at the end of the show’s final episode.  We will miss out regular Tuesday night meeting with the Hecks but we won’t forget them.  How can we?  They’re family.

 

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