The Middle

Common Sense Media says

Funny look at average family is OK for older tweens and up.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite some typical sitcom family dysfunction, it's clear that the Hecks are there for each other and care about each other. The show attempts to provide a realistic look at stresses like money issues, overscheduling, and balancing work and family time. Other themes like self-expression, self-confidence, and respecting differences are explored in some episodes. 

Positive role models

Frankie and Mike love their kids and do their best to support and encourage them while balancing the stresses of work and finances. The fact that Frankie is usually responsible for household chores (dishes, laundry, etc.) somewhat reinforces traditional gender roles, but Mike does help out at times.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Teen crushes have a comical flair that keeps them light-hearted. Among adults, there’s some sexual innuendo (referring to sex as "dessert," for instance) that will go over kids’ heads.

Language

Multiple instances of "damn" and "hell," as well as terms like "sucked," "butt," and "screwed" (as in "we are so screwed"). Mild sibling rivalry leads to name-calling like "bonehead," "moron," and "freak."

Consumerism

Occasionally fellow ABC shows like Dancing with the Stars are on the family's TV.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults occasionally drink beer and/or smoke a cigarette at home to unwind from the day.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this sitcom draws its humor from typical middle-class family woes like tight finances, overscheduling, communication issues, and balancing work and family time. The parents are devoted to their kids and to each other but do sometimes show their stress over worries about money and other issues. Though the show’s content is fairly tame compared to much prime-time fare, young kids won’t grasp the humor, and some of the language (multiple uses of "hell" and "damn," plus name-calling like "freak" and "moron") isn’t appropriate for the littlest viewers. But older tweens, teens, and parents are likely to get a kick out of this witty, honest comedy about life’s trials.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

THE MIDDLE is a sitcom that centers on the hectic life of Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton), a middle-aged mom of three who lives with her husband, Mike (Neil Flynn), in the fictional Midwest town of Orson, Indiana. A mostly unsuccessful car salesperson who’s apt to belabor her customers with her personal woes, Frankie is a devoted mom and wife who nonetheless struggles to balance the daily disasters of the household and their kids, Axl (Charlie McDermott), Sue (Eden Shur), and Brick (Atticus Shaffer). Somewhere between unraveling Brick’s social ineptitude, bolstering Sue’s confidence, steering moody Axl to a promising future, and finding time for Mike, Frankie finds that the joys of life exist not in the uncommon highs, but in the middle of all the chaos.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

THE MIDDLE is a charmingly honest day-in-the-life glimpse at the struggles and joys of a "typical" working-class American family. Frankie and Mike aren't without their flaws, and their trial-and-error approach to raising their kids will garner chuckles, but their unwavering devotion to each other and to their family is inspiring. The show has a certain Roseanne-like quality whose message seems to be that true happiness is often found in redefining what it means to be perfect. 

The show’s excellent cast -- led by Emmy winner Heaton and joined by Saturday Night Live funny man Chris Kattan as her work buddy, Bob -- delivers plenty of laughs, and parents and their teens will find some some family-related issues that are worth discussing after the show’s end. There’s enough language, social drinking (casual, by adults, that is), and sexual references to ensure it’s not for young kids, but if you’re looking for a more grown-up comedy to share with your teens, The Middle fits the bill, and it even offers some heartwarming messages about finding the joys of being, well, average.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the media typically portrays families. Do you think the Hecks can be considered a modern American family? Has society’s definition of "family" changed over the past few decades? How do TV shows and movies reflect that?

  • How does the family structure presented in this show compare to yours? Do the Hecks seem like a realistic family to you? What would make them more relatable?

  • How do issues like finances and busy schedules interfere with family time? What rules does your family have about participating in activities and getting together with friends? What are your family’s rules about TV and other media?

TV details

Cast:Charlie McDermott, Neil Flynn, Patricia Heaton
Network:ABC
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Middle was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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, okay 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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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySonicSpeed360 October 21, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Good modern TV show that makes you laugh out loud!

The Middle is a laugh every time, and me and my fam enjoy watching it. The lines are well written, and it's funny to see just how weird things can get around the Heck family. Here are some thigns you should know before you or your kids(I'm not a parent, just giving insight): *Mild Swearing in almost every episode, such as d**n, h**l, and occasionally "sucks". *The kids are lazy sometimes, like 8-year-old Brick, who usually does nothing but read books, is extremely unsocial and often relies on his mother, Frankie to do school projects for him. *Axl, the typical 15-year-old teenager, is a little lazy and is usually seen walking around the house with nothin' but his boxers on. * The show suggest what a "modern" family is like, kids might take this to heart and try to be like this family. *The dad and mom, Mike and Frankie, usually drink beer. Nothing too serious. These reasons are why I rate this "iffy", because some parents care about what's here, others don't. These reasons aside, however, the show is excellent with jokes and other events that are just plain hilarious. I would definitely reccomend this to families hunting for a good TV show.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old May 17, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Its good

This show is funny. i love to watch it every wednesday. its has some bad things in it but nothing to be concerned about brick is sooo cute.some times i think its boring
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written bycocosimon April 12, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
OMG I LOVE THIS SHOW I WATCH IT EVERY WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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