The Middle

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Middle TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Funny look at average family is OK for older tweens and up.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 38 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 112 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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
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.

What 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byholly525 October 2, 2013

Great Show for Parents and Teens to Watch Together

I love this show! Sometimes I swear I'm watching my own family on TV when I watch it! It makes me not feel so bad about being so awkward! I like the fact t... Continue reading
Parent Written byD G August 17, 2017

What do know, a show for the family.

I love sitcoms. I have since I was a kid, Unfortunately, I have not been able to share my love of them with my kids, up until now. The Middle is the only mod... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bycocosimon April 12, 2011
OMG I LOVE THIS SHOW I WATCH IT EVERY WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kid, 11 years old April 25, 2016

Appropriate for Kids

I think this show IS appropriate for kids 7+ compared to other shows these days and what's in the news I think the middle is completely appropriate for the... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love TV families

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