Dr. Helen

'The Middle' Breaks Gender Stereotypes

I was watching Patricia Heaton’s funny show “The Middle” last night and was struck by the break in gender stereotypes. If you don’t watch the show, here is a synopsis:

A sitcom about a working-class family in the U.S. heartland follows the daily strife of frazzled mom Frankie who, alongside her husband, raises their three kids, the youngest being an outcast at school because of his unusual behavior.

In last night’s show, called “The Other Man,” Sue Heck, the college-aged daughter in the show, likes her next-door neighbor, Sean Donahue, but she is still going out with Aiden, a musician who is a total klutz. She wants to break up with Aiden to have a chance with Sean but her gay friend Brad needs her to set him up with Aidan’s friend so she continues to see Aiden. The entire show revolved around Aiden’s klutzy behavior including burning Sue’s eyes with pepper, hitting her in the eye with a pool ball, and knocking her to the ground by accident.

I found it very painful to watch, but I always feel the same when a man is hurt by a woman on a show. Most people think that it’s humorous when a man is slapped, punched, falls or endures pain committed by women (or other men).

Yes, Sue’s pain was accidental but it still broke the stereotype of only men getting hurt by women. It was an interesting dynamic. Sue was a good sport about it and decided fairly that because she is also a klutz, maybe she and Aiden were a good match after all.