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TV Series Review

Some families soar with eagles. Others are content to scratch around with the turkeys. The Heck family of fictitious Orson, Ind., fall into the latter coop.

The Hecks—mom Frankie, dad Mike and their three kids, Axl, Sue and Brick—are a strictly working-class clan living in flyover country. They're not the sort to jet-set from New York to Los Angeles and back again. They're not even the sort to drop the extra dough required to upgrade an anniversary dinner from the buffet place to that new restaurant with the tablecloths. They're too busy wrestling with the modern-day dilemmas most of us wrestle with: You know, trials like paying bills on time, keeping house clutter from catching fire and whipping together school costumes for the kids at the last minute.

A typical American family, you say? Of course not. There is no such thing, really, and the Hecks are more atypical than most.

The Hecks' youngest child, Brick, is a socially awkward lad who makes up for his poor friend-making skills by being really, really smart—though he does have a strange habit of repeating himself in a whisper. (In a whisper.) Axl swims in sarcasm, walking around the house without a shirt and chugging milk straight from the jug. He's also been known to bring home the wrong sorts of girls to meet the parents. Then there's perpetually sunny Sue, who clumsily tries out for all things extracurricular and fails spectacularly each time, usually with an injury. But to her credit—and the family's dismay—she retains her positive outlook and just keeps on trying.

Frankie's jobs (at a used car lot at first, now at a dentist's office) keep her busy and exhausted. So quarry foreman Mike is the, um, rock of this otherwise flighty family. Together they herd their motley flock while striving to better their lot in life. Well, that is, until striving gets too hard. Then settling into the Heck version of "average" doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

The churchgoing Hecks are dysfunctional. And they certainly aren't good role models as they fill their lives with occasional crassness and bad attitudes, a few mild profanities … and lots of white lies. Parenting is often reduced to ineffectual shouts and pleas. So in many ways their "average" is a little too much so. Working just a bit harder toward excellence definitely wouldn't hurt these guys one little bit.

And yet within their household chaos there beats a big heart. Mike and Frankie care. Despite crazy work hours, their kids' irregular schedules and generally frantic life maintenance, they want to be the best parents they can be. They don't always try to be the best parents they can be, but at least they want to be.

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Episode Reviews

The Middle: May 22, 2018 "A Heck of a Ride: Part 1 & Part 2"
The Middle: May 15, 2018 "Split Decision"
Middle: 3-25-2015
Middle: 5-15-2013
Middle: 5-4-2011
Middle: 10-7-2009



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Patricia Heaton as Frankie Heck; Neil Flynn as Mike Heck; Charlie McDermott as Axl Heck; Eden Sher as Sue Heck; Atticus Shaffer as Brick Heck; Chris Kattan as Bob; Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Ehlert






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