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The Middle is an American sitcom about a lower middle class family living in Indiana facing the day-to-day struggles of home life, work, and raising children. The series premiered on September 30, 2009, on the ABC network and concluded on May 22, 2018. The series features Everybody Loves Raymond actress Patricia Heaton and Scrubs actor Neil Flynn.[1] The Middle was created by former Roseanne and Murphy Brown writers Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline of Blackie and Blondie Productions. The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Blackie and Blondie Productions. The Middle was praised by television critics and earned numerous award nominations.

The Middle
TheMiddlelogo.png
Genre
Created by
  • Eileen Heisler
  • DeAnn Heline
Starring
Narrated by Patricia Heaton
Composer(s) Joey Newman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 215 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • DeAnn Heline
  • Eileen Heisler
Producer(s)
  • Werner Kalian
  • Vijal Patel
  • Roy Brown
  • Robin Shorr
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 21–22 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network ABC
Picture format HDTV 720p
Original release September 30, 2009 (2009-09-30) – May 22, 2018 (2018-05-22)
External links
Website

On May 30, 2018, it was reported that a spin-off focused on Eden Sher's character Sue Heck was in the works at ABC and nearing a pilot order with the goal to launch in midseason.[2][3]

Contents

PremiseEdit

The series features Frances "Frankie" Heck (Patricia Heaton), a middle class, middle-aged, Midwestern[4] woman and her husband Mike (Neil Flynn), who reside in the small fictional town of Orson, Indiana based on the real town of Jasper, Indiana.[5] They are the parents of three children, Axl (Charlie McDermott), Sue (Eden Sher), and Brick (Atticus Shaffer).[6]

The series is narrated by Frankie, initially an under-performing salesperson at a used-car dealership and later a dental assistant. Her stoic husband Mike manages a local quarry and serves as a stabilizing influence in the family, though Frankie complains about his lack of affection at times. The kids are quite different from one another: oldest son Axl, a popular but lazy teenager, does well in sports but not in academics; daughter Sue is an enthusiastic young teen but chronically unsuccessful and socially awkward; and youngest son Brick is an intelligent but introverted compulsive reader with odd behavioral traits loosely hinted to derive from Asperger syndrome.

EpisodesEdit

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 24 September 30, 2009 (2009-09-30) May 19, 2010 (2010-05-19)
2 24 September 22, 2010 (2010-09-22) May 25, 2011 (2011-05-25)
3 24 September 21, 2011 (2011-09-21) May 23, 2012 (2012-05-23)
4 24 September 26, 2012 (2012-09-26) May 22, 2013 (2013-05-22)
5 24 September 25, 2013 (2013-09-25) May 21, 2014 (2014-05-21)
6 24 September 24, 2014 (2014-09-24) May 13, 2015 (2015-05-13)
7 24 September 23, 2015 (2015-09-23) May 18, 2016 (2016-05-18)
8 23 October 11, 2016 (2016-10-11) May 16, 2017 (2017-05-16)
9 24 October 3, 2017 (2017-10-03) May 22, 2018 (2018-05-22)

Cast and charactersEdit

Development and productionEdit

The series was originally developed in the 2006–07 development cycle for ABC and was to star Ricki Lake as Frankie.[6] Atticus Shaffer was the only actor to retain his role when the show was re-developed.[7] ABC later ordered a second, cast-contingent pilot order tied to Patricia Heaton being cast in the leading role for the 2008-09 development cycle.[8] The series was created by Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline (who is from Muncie, Indiana)[9] and the pilot was directed by Julie Anne Robinson.[10]

The show was originally set to take place in Jasper, Indiana, though the setting was changed to the fictional Orson, Indiana on the advice of attorneys.[11] However, Orson is based on, and presumed to be located near Jasper. The show was filmed in Stage 31 at the Warner Bros. Ranch,[12] with the house's exterior on the ranch's Blondie Street. Set director Julie Fanton shops at traditionally mid-western places, such as Target and Kohl's, so the show appears to have a realistic middle-class look.[9]

The series was picked up for a full season of 24 episodes after airing just two episodes.[13] On January 12, 2010, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson announced that he was renewing The Middle for a second season.[14][15] The show was renewed for a third season. The third season premiered with a one-hour episode on September 21, 2011. On May 10, 2012, ABC renewed the show for a fourth season,[16] which premiered with a one-hour special on September 26, 2012. The show was renewed for a fifth season on May 10, 2013. ABC confirmed on May 9, 2014 that the series was picked up for a sixth season of 22 episodes,[17] and officially ordered an additional two episodes in October of that year, bringing the season six total to 24.

On May 8, 2015, ABC officially picked up the series for a seventh season, renewing the contracts of the main cast at the same time. ABC renewed the series for season eight with a 22-episode order, later expanded to 23 episodes in December 2016.[18]

The series was renewed for a ninth season on January 25, 2017,[19] with filming beginning on August 15, 2017.[20] On August 2, 2017, it was announced that the series would end after its ninth season, at the request of the series' creators.[21] The one-hour series finale aired on May 22, 2018.[22]

On May 30, 2018, it was reported by Variety that a spinoff was being eyed following the cancellation of Roseanne.[23]

ReleaseEdit

BroadcastEdit

The Middle premiered in the U.S. on September 30, 2009, on ABC. The series aired on City (formerly Citytv) in Canada from the third to ninth season.[24] Previously, the show aired on A (now CTV Two) during its first season.[25] In Australia, the show premiered on December 7, 2009, on Nine Network. The New Zealand premiere was on May 8, 2010, on TV2. In India, the show premiered on January 5, 2015 on Romedy Now. In the UK, it premiered on August 29, 2010, on Sky1. Season 5 premiered on Comedy Central, UK on January 21, 2014, and in Ireland on April 16, 2014, on TV3. It has been adapted in Hindi on Reliance Broadcast Network comedy channel BIG MAGIC as Tedi Medi Family. It is also broadcast on the Neox Channel in Spain[26] and Warner Channel in Latin America and Brazil.[27][28]

SyndicationEdit

On March 6, 2012, it was announced that ABC Family (now Freeform) obtained the rights to The Middle, which began airing the series on September 9, 2013.[29]

Hallmark Channel also acquired The Middle for syndication, which began airing in March 2014.[30] In addition, the series debuted in local syndication on September 16, 2013.[31] As of September 2017, the show is no longer available for local syndication.[32]

Home mediaEdit

In region 1, seasons 1–4 have had an official retail release. Starting with season 5, the series has been released as a MOD DVD-R via the Warner Archive Collection.[33] The Canadian releases continue to be traditionally manufactured and sold, but are otherwise identical to their American counterparts.[34] Distribution for regions 2 and 4 ended after the fourth season.

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

The Middle has received positive reviews from critics, citing its unique and original characters along with critics praising the show's consistent standard and its realistic portrayal of lower-middle-class families. It holds a score of 71 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.[35] Critics praise the show's good timing, writing, and acting, with Robert Bianco of USA Today saying, "...This series seems to more assuredly offer a first-class version of what so many viewers say they want: a humorous, heartfelt, realistic look at middle-class, middle-America family life."[36] The praise has been, so far, consistent, with Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker saying that, in season two, The Middle continues to be "...a rock-solid show, the saga of a family struggling to keep their heads above the choppy economic waters..."[37]

In the 2009–2010 season, The Middle ranked number six on Metacritic's "Best Reviewed New Network Show" list.[38] Airing behind the quickly cancelled Hank during its first season, ratings were not initially impressive, averaging fewer than 7 million viewers. At the start of the 2010/2011 season, ABC moved the show to the beginning of its prime time block (8:00 pm EDT) and ratings increased substantially, with the show usually ranking second in its time slot to CBS's Survivor.

In 2016, Bob Sassone of Esquire published an article called "The Middle Is the Best TV Show You're Not Watching" where he expresses the dissatisfaction of the series not having received nominations for several awards and not receiving the deserved attention of the critics, saying that "The Middle is the finest American sitcom on TV right now".[39] After ABC confirmed that the ninth season of The Middle would be the last, Devon Ivie of Vulture published that "The Middle Is One of TV’s Most Underrated Gems" saying that "I’ll miss the midwestern comfort of The Middle tremendously" and gave five reasons why readers should give to the show a chance to charm them.[40]

RatingsEdit

Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes Premiered Ended TV season Rank (viewers) Rank (demo) Viewers
(in millions)
Demo (18-49)
Date Premiere viewers
(in millions)
18–49 rating Date Finale viewers
(in millions)
18–49 rating
1 Wednesday 8:30 pm 24 September 30, 2009 8.71[41] 2.6[41] May 19, 2010 7.55[42] 2.5[42] 2009–10 68[43] 63[43] 6.69[43] 2.3[43]
2 Wednesday 8:00 pm 24 September 22, 2010 8.81[44] 2.7[44] May 25, 2011 7.33[45] 2.2[45] 2010–11 51[46] 59[46] 8.08[46] 2.4[46]
3 24 September 21, 2011 9.74[47] 3.1[47] May 23, 2012 6.52[48] 2.0[48] 2011–12 60[49] 63[49] 8.08[49] 2.5 [49]
4 24 September 26, 2012 9.16[50] 2.9[50] May 22, 2013 7.70[51] 2.0[51] 2012–13 45[52] 44[52] 8.42[52] 2.5[52]
5 24 September 25, 2013 8.94[53] 2.5[53] May 21, 2014 7.85[54] 2.1[54] 2013–14 44[55] N/A 8.24[55] N/A
6 24 September 24, 2014 7.59[56] 2.2[56] May 13, 2015 7.03[57] 1.8[57] 2014–15 53[58] 41[58] 8.68[58] 2.4[58]
7 24 September 23, 2015 8.21[59] 2.1[59] May 18, 2016 6.73[60] 1.6[60] 2015–16 53[61] 34[62] 8.15[61] 2.2 [62]
8 Tuesday 8:00 pm 23 October 11, 2016 6.78[63] 1.8[63] May 16, 2017 5.27[64] 1.2[64] 2016–17 53[65] 43[65] 7.02[65] 1.8
9 Tuesday 8:00 pm (1-17)
Tuesday 8:30 pm (18-24)
24 October 3, 2017 6.21[66] 1.6[66] May 22, 2018 7.09[67] 1.7[67] 2017–18 55 34 7.28[68] 1.9

The season 3 episode "Halloween II" was the most watched episode so far, viewed by 10.16 million viewers.[69]

Awards and nominationsEdit

In 2011, The Middle received a Gracie Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.[70] The 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards nominated the series for Best Comedy Series, Patricia Heaton for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, and Eden Sher for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2010 Young Artist Award Best Recurring Young Actor 14 and Over Brock Ciarlelli Nominated [71]
Best Recurring Young Actress Eden Sher Nominated
Humanitas Prize 30 Minute Category Episode: "The Block Party" Nominated
2011 Gracie Award Outstanding Comedy Series The Middle Won [72]
1st Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series The Middle Nominated [73]
Best Actress in a Comedy Series Patricia Heaton Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Guest Starring Young Actor Ten and Under Parker Contreras Won [74]
Mason Cook Nominated
Best Recurring Young Actor Brock Ciarlelli Won
Best Guest Starring Young Actress 11–15 Kelly Heyer Nominated
Best Recurring Young Actress 17–21 Blaine Saunders Nominated
Outstanding Young Ensemble in a TV Series Eden Sher, Atticus Shaffer, and Charlie McDermott Nominated
2012 2nd Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher Nominated [75]
1st PAAFTJ Television Awards Best Comedy Series The Middle Nominated [76]
Best Actress in a Comedy Series Patricia Heaton (Episode: "Thanksgiving III") Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher (Episode: "The Test") Nominated
Best Production Design in a Comedy Series Episode: "The Map" Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Recurring Young Actor 17–21 Brock Ciarlelli Won [77]
Best Guest Starring Young Actress 17–21 Katlin Mastandrea Nominated
Best Guest Starring Young Actress Ten and Under Marlowe Peyton Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Episode: "The Play" Nominated [78]
Humanitas Prize 30 Minute Category Episode: "The Map" Nominated
TV Guide Award Favorite Comedy Series The Middle Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Whoopi Goldberg Nominated [79]
2013 Young Artist Award Best Recurring Young Actor 17–21 Brock Ciarlelli Won [80]
Best Recurring Young Actress 17–21 Katlin Mastandrea Nominated
3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series The Middle Nominated [81]
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Eden Sher Won
2013 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Female Scene Stealer Eden Sher Nominated [82]
TV Guide Award Favorite Comedy Series The Middle Nominated
2nd PAAFTJ Television Awards Best Comedy Series The Middle Nominated [83]
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Charlie McDermott Nominated
Best Artistic/Visual Achievement in a Comedy Series Episode: "Hallelujah Hoedown" Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Series Neil Flynn Nominated [84]
2014 Young Artist Award Best Recurring Young Actor 17–21 Brock Ciarlelli Nominated [85]
Best Recurring Young Actress 17–21 Katlin Mastandrea Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher Won [86]
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top TV Series Joey Newman Won [87]
Humanitas Prize 30 Minute Category Episode: "Halloween IV: The Ghost Story" Nominated [88]
2014 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Scene Stealer: Female Eden Sher Nominated [89]
TV Guide Award Favorite Comedy Series The Middle Nominated
2015 5th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Recurring Young Actor 17–21 Brock Ciarlelli Won [90]
Best Guest Starring Young Actress 14–16 Ava Allan Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Actor Charlie McDermott Nominated [91]
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Dick Van Dyke Nominated [92]
2016 6th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Eden Sher Nominated [93]
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Neil Flynn Nominated
Humanitas Prize 30 Minute Category Episode: "The Graduate" Won [94]
Young Entertainer Awards Best Recurring Young Actress – Television Series Casey Burke Nominated [95]
Best Guest Starring Young Actor – Television Series Matt Cornett Won
2017 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Television Series Joey Newman Won [96]
Young Entertainer Awards Best Recurring Young Actress – Television Series Casey Burke Won [97]

ReferencesEdit

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