The Middleman

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
The Middleman TV Poster Image
Comic book-based action series is quirky and fun.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Like many comic book heroes, The Middleman works for a mysterious organization dedicated to fighting evil and righting wrongs. He and his new assistant Wendy operate outside standard law enforcement channels and generally take on missions that the everyday police won't handle or simply can't comprehend. As a result, they must actively hide their activities while trying to save the world.

Violence

Plenty of stylized violence (including weapon use), but little gore -- and the action scenes are so over the top that they seem more comical than thrilling.

Sex

No sex and only a little romance. Wendy has a boyfriend, but her new job fighting mysterious enemies prevents her from spending much time with him. Just about all of her friends openly wonder if he's actually gay; one refers to Wendy as his "beard" (i.e. a disguise for his true sexuality). Some or all of these references may go over kids' head.

Language

No swear words, but a few clever insults and derogatory comments.

Consumerism

Several references to well-known comic book titles, which is appropriate for a show based on a series of graphic novels that tries hard to transport its comic-like atmosphere to the screen. The script also includes frequent quotes from well-known movies, though these fleeting shout-outs don't credit their original sources.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this tongue-in-cheek adventure show is based on a series of graphic novels. It takes pains to bring that comic-book atmosphere to the screen, so expect lots of over-the-top situations, plenty of strange characters, action sequences played for laughs instead of thrills, frequent pop culture references, and a hero whose main strength seems to be his ability to accept the unbelievable without batting an eye. Aside from the cartoony violence (which includes weapon use) and a bit of innuendo (there's some speculation about the sexuality of one character's boyfriend), there's not much for parents to worry about here -- unless being required to suspend your disbelief much more than usual is an issue.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7, 9, and 11 year old Written byArcherSK April 9, 2008

Quirky but our whole family likes it

Our 7, 9 & 11 year olds all loved this show. It has quirky plots and characters that the kids really enjoyed. The Middleman is a model "goody two... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written byDangersaurus September 17, 2014

Sexualized insult comedy

There are many sexual references in the constant banter. They use "lesbian" and "homosexual" as if they are slurs. Most of the banter is ins... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008

This is a great show!

I watched this show and I love it! It's so worth watching!
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

As an office temp, Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales) has many useful skills. She's a speedy typist and great with a multi-line phone system. But perhaps her best talent is simply that she's good under pressure, able to fend off a gloppy, multi-tentacled creature when someone's DNA experiment at her latest job assignment goes very, very bad. Wendy's ability to keep her head when faced with the unbelievable and amazing (from talking animals to surly robots) catches the attention of THE MIDDLEMAN (Matt Keeslar), a mysterious hero who recruits her to become his sidekick. Their mission: to quickly and quietly resolve situations that the regular cops can't handle and usually refuse to believe.

Is it any good?

This action show intentionally skirts the line between quirky and silly, setting up one crazy situation after another. If it feels a lot like a comic book, that's no coincidence -- executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach created the Middleman character in a series of popular graphic novels. On the spectrum of action heroes, this show falls much closer to the wacky tone of Men in Black (also based on a comic book) than the thrills of Superman; it goes more for laughs than excitement.

The Middleman seems self-consciously aware of its position in the pop-culture pantheon; the character is deliberately trying to be a very different kind of hero, and the show often quotes well-known lines from well-known films likeThe Godfather and Independence Day. These references go by quickly, as if the writers are challenging the viewers to spot them. The people who can are probably the ones who will enjoy this show the most.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about comic book heroes. The Middleman isn't your average super hero -- do you think that makes his character less interesting than heroes who fall closer to the Superman/Spider-man/Batman model? Do you think there's room for more than one kind of hero in comic books or on screen? Why are so many comics made into movies or TV shows? There are many kinds of comics -- do some work better than others on the screen? Why?

TV details

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