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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stuck in the Middle is a family-friendly sitcom about the chaotic happenings in a large household, told from the point of view of its middle child. Despite the excessive absurdity and generally silly humor, the show offers recurring positive themes about family ties and sibling relationships. Harley often bemoans being part of a large household, but equal time is given to the benefits of being surrounded by people who care. Even though the show paints a refreshingly realistic picture of life's messy imperfections (the Diaz house is rarely tidy, and the parents admit their shortcomings without apology), it still shows problems resolved in implausible time.
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What's the story?
As the fourth in a family of seven kids, 12-year-old Harley Diaz (Jenny Ortega) is used to being STUCK IN THE MIDDLE as her needs are overlooked among her siblings -- Rachel (Ronni Hawk), Ethan (Isaak Presley), Georgie (Kayla Maisonet), Lewie (Nicolas Bechtel), Beast (Malachi Barton), and Daphne (Ariana Greenblatt). It's not so bad, and she knows that her parents (Joe Nieves and Cerina Vincent) do their best, but sometimes it would be nice to be the one about whom all the fuss is made, you know? So in an effort to stand out from the crowd, Harley puts her creativity to good use, inventing clever ways to turn attention her way.
Is it any good?
Reflecting the chaotic goings-on in the oversized Diaz household, this fun comedy runs at a helter-skelter pace on the heels of its fresh-faced main character. Ortega commands this role, pleading her case as a long-suffering middle kid while finding the humor in the many calamities that befall her efforts to shine. The bigger picture paints a comical impression of family life in general, and it's surprisingly refreshing to see a presentation of the messy, imperfect nature of busy, rambunctious households.
Stuck in the Middle is optimal fare for families, as many of Harley's issues will ring familiar for kids with any number of siblings, and parents can relate to her parents' harried efforts to keep the family seams together. Also a pleasure are the Diazes' exchanges with their busybody neighbor, Bethany, whose condescending disapproval of their lifestyle makes for some hilarious exchanges.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sibling relationships in Stuck in the Middle. If your kids have brothers and sisters, do the Diaz characters' experiences ring true with their own? What makes sibling relationships so challenging? On the other hand, what are the benefits of having brothers and sisters?
Do TV shows and movies show family life in a believable light? What aspects are believable to you? Does this show stray from the norm in how it embraces imperfections? Do you like its take on hectic family life or not?
How does Harley use her experiences to inspire her inventions? Can you think of ways to make life easier or more efficient for yourself and your family?
- Premiere date: February 14, 2016
- Cast: Jenny Ortega, Isaak Presley, Kayla Maisonet
- Network: Disney Channel
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Gratitude
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: DVD, Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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