Malcolm in the Middle

TV review by
Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media
Malcolm in the Middle TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Quirky, off-the-wall family humor; OK for teens.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 33 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 105 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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 & Representations

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.).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byminestein November 12, 2014

Some Subject Matter May be Innapropriate

This show is a hilarious coming-of-age story centered around an acerbic and wunderkind child named Malcolm as he navigates the perils of adolescence.

Malcolm... Continue reading
Adult Written byrandallQ May 14, 2016

not great depictions of female characters

We started watching this with our 10-year-old daughter and wish we had waited a few years. It's funny and inventive, but is typically one-sided in its dep... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byebeb May 2, 2016


This show is appropriate for most younger children and it's hilarious!! If you're not sure, just watch it it's funny and very good.
Kid, 11 years old January 1, 2021

Hilarious comedy I love this show

This show is so funny! There is not a whole lot of swearing or violence, but some of the things on that show are a little questionable, but nothing a mature 11... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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