'The Middle': No Emmy Nomination, But a Safe Bet for the Entire Family

This sleeper hit starring Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Neil Flynn (Scrubs) is the perfect show for families with kids ranging in age from late elementary through high school. The story of the Heck family living in Orson, Indiana (literally the “middle” of the country…and the “middle” of nowhere) is a quick-witted take on American family life. Matriarch Frankie Heck (Heaton) narrates the trials and triumphs of her family, an ordinary crew with extraordinary personalities, particularly Sue, the “middle” child.

A throwback to 1950’s family sitcoms, The Middle provides a modern twist, snubbing its nose at the neat and tidy housewives and perfectly sweet children of days gone by. The Heck home is consistently a mess and Frankie is constantly disorganized, so much so that last year the kids missed the first day of school. Money is always an issue and the kids are usually at each other’s throats. Sound familiar?

But, don’t let the casual nature of the show fool you. This is no Roseanne. Vulgarity is absent, as is any foul language. Humor is grounded in the ironies of parenting, siblinghood and the suburbs. Strong writing and performances shine a bright comedic light on the stresses of modern family life. With a character for every age ranging from middle school forward, this 8 p.m. show is a safe bet for the entire family.

Wednesdays at 8 pm EST on ABC


Helga Esteb /