TV Recap: The Middle, ‘Not Your Brother’s Drop Off’

Written by Megan LaBruna

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The fall season is back and with it brings a new chapter in the Heck family on ABC’s The Middle. The “Year of Sue” continues with her drop off at college. Anyone who has watched the show over the past several seasons has seen the Heck kids grow and evolve with each year. Of course anyone who is a fan of the show also knows that for poor Sue Heck (Eden Sher) just about nothing ever goes her way and this college drop off is no different.

Every now and then we as the audience get a glimpse of things going as planned for Sue. It is a rare and momentous occasion, because more often than not anything she touches/sees/does is affected by Murphy’s law. I was really pulling for this drop off to go well for her, but I should have known better. The night before the trip she burns off her hair with a curling iron, which is a legitimate fear of mine! This is one aspect about the Middle that I really enjoy. They are able to portray the messiness and chaos of a real family as well as pepper in some relevant pop-culture references, such as this hair disaster originally brought to the public eye by an amazing YouTube video.

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Axl (Charlie McDermott) showed us his brotherly side last season admitting that it wouldn’t be so bad if his little sister went to the same college, however one week out from heading to school and he’s back to avoiding Sue and pretending she doesn’t exist. Brick (Atticus Shaffer) is surrounded by his own problems with the start of this year. His girlfriend wants to take things to the “next level”, which Brick is contemplating, if only he knew what the “next level” actually entailed. He seeks Axl’s unhelpful advice but ultimately decides he is going to ask his girlfriend outright. What is this, a logical idea from Brick?! I think we’re already seeing signs of him maturing; baby Heck is growing up so fast.

Not fast enough for Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and Mike (Neil Flynn) who by the end of the episode take solace in the fact that their daughter will be fine at college and settle into their new empty nester roles, only to be reminded that Brick is still around. But back to the “Sue” at hand; the day of her college drop off arrives and as loyal viewers can expect, nothing the Heck family does can ever be easy. The road trip includes two cars, easily 10 suitcases, a pair of walkie talkie’s, an arguing family and a flat tire. Mike a man of few words shows his love for his daughter through insisting she learn several life skills before she heads off to college. To prove she knows what he’s taught her, he insists Sue change the flat on her own. Three hours later the frustration builds ultimately causing Frankie and Mike to argue which in turn spills the secret that Frankie isn’t emotional at all about Sue’s leaving. Hearing this makes Sue and most middle children furious.

Frankie Heck may not be the mother of the year, but she means well. This is another aspect of The Middle that I enjoy. They manage to turn around and explain why or how their characters react a certain way. With Frankie she explains to Sue via walkie that she isn’t sad because she’s been able to experience the gift of her daughter for her whole life and now she has the pleasure of sharing her with the world. Nice save Frankie, and of course it hits home with many mothers and daughters I’m sure.

I am excited to see how the series will tackle Sue and Axl at the same college, how Brick will tackle his blossoming relationship and how Frankie and Mike will deal without the daily chaos in their house that they’ve become accustomed to experiencing over many years. I think we’re in for an entertaining “year of Heck”.

Rating: 8/10

The Middle airs Wednesday nights on ABC