Malcolm in the Middle TV Poster Image

Malcolm in the Middle



Quirky, off-the-wall family humor; OK for teens.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The comedy involves outrageous trouble caused by the boys or their father. Their mother tries to promote good behavior, but it's often accomplished through yelling and manipulating. But when push comes to shove (and it sometimes does), family members are there for one another.

Positive role models

Malcolm is very smart, though the show doesn't shy away from mocking his fellow gifted students. His family members all care about each other, though they sometimes show it in odd ways -- and they're just as likely to yell at each other, too. His brothers are troublemakers. There's some diversity in the cast; Malcolm's best friend is black and wheelchair-bound, and older brother Francis married a Native American.


Lots of goofy roughhousing, sometimes resulting in injury. The brothers sometimes fight with each other and throw punches.


Occasional sex-related subject matter. Implied nudity now and then. The parents have a fairly lustful relationship.


Some expletives and crude language ("damn," "ass," etc.).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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?

TV details

Cast:Bryan Cranston, Frankie Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek
Networks:Fox, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Malcolm in the Middle was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

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Kid, 11 years old August 22, 2011

Really good show!

I don't see any problem with letting someone that is 10+ watch the show. Why are all you people in my age range acting like its extremely bad for kids? If this is violent to you, try watching Dexter instead. Your jaw will drop.
Adult Written byNEVER SIGN UP F... October 31, 2010

Advice for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Long time, I watched it in Kids Quest, it's in Red Rock. These boys are watching it. It's ona my fave shows on Nick@Nite! I can't believe they recommend it to 13+...something that's okay for 13-year-olds...Ten year olds are even allowed to watch it :-). I didn't know what the title is when I watched it on the FOX 5 channel since 3, 4 or maybe 5 years old. 7-year-olds(even older) can watch it, too. Not as bad as Strawberry Shortcake. These boys are in a show, too. Not Just Girls. All Ages Can Watch It. but Here's An Advice for Kids Ages 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. I would give a Zero Star which means that I don't think any kid under 11 should be watching MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE in school because of these 1000 concerns and 0 Highlights, But if you watch it at home That's good and it gives us 7 concerns and 2 highlights. 1-2 stars, You're copying the bad behavior. 3 stars, If you don't copy the Bad Behavior. 4 stars, You're doing very good at copying the Good Behavior. 5 stars, If you didn't watch any baby show even in 6th Grade. If It's One of my Favorite Shows, I'll give it a 6 star in it, Okay? good for 7+ even 10 year olds, but i found the show again at 9 years old. You can watch it in somewhere else if 7 stars.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byMillyMolly February 2, 2011

One of the best!

I love this show, to bad they don't put it on tv anymore. Its really funny,and a great family tv show!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models


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