Malcolm in the Middle
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this comedy series pushes the envelope on irreverence, and the humor can be crude and/or risqué. At the same time, Malcolm is an intelligent main character, facing many of the challenges of growing up and fitting in that your own kids may face. The show puts family dysfunction and sibling rivalry in the spotlight.
What's the story?
The cynical, funny title character (Frankie Muniz) of MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE has a genius IQ and is placed in his school's gifted program despite the fact that he'd rather be just a normal kid. Malcolm's family -- which includes devilish brothers Reese (Justin Berfield), Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan), and Francis (Christopher Masterson); goofy dad Hal (Bryan Cranston); and controlling mother Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) -- is just about coming apart at the seams, yet somehow it hangs together. The kids -- and their parents -- routinely embarrass each other, misbehave, play foolhardy pranks, and cause mayhem and destruction.
Is it any good?
For some viewers, this show's subject matter may provide a welcome alternative to the predictable plots and simplistic conclusions served up by many traditional family sitcoms. Some episodes are clever and endearing -- showing how kids deal with the perceived injustices of growing up -- while others highlight how the family pulls together in hilarious ways. The show often brings to light how, at times, parents' rules are no match for children's curiosity.
Malcolm in the Middle may be one of the loudest shows on TV, one reason parents may have difficulty determining whether their kids should watch or not. Since situations concerning Malcolm's parents can involve adult humor, the show is perhaps best viewed by parents and mature teens.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the unusual ways in which Malcolm's family expresses their love for each other. Does that hold true in your family?
Are Lois' reactions and disciplinary tactics realistic? How does exaggeration make something funny?