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The Middle – Sue’s growing up to be Whoopi Goldberg

I know the joke is that Brick's a bookworm and he doesn't do physical exertion, but why give him stories like Presidential Fitness Challenge Week? It was a terrible waste of his talent ... Spelling Bees are much more up his alley, and more appropriate for his brand of comedy.

- Season 3, Episode 21 - "The Guidance Counselor"

There are two good reasons why Frankie and Mike don’t often have their own story line on The Middle. And the first reason is named Frankie. Mike’s great, but Frankie is simply too much when doing more than supporting someone else’s plot (and even then it’s touch-and-go).

The second reason goes like this: the Heck parents (read: Frankie) do well when they’re part of a single plot that the entire family is participating in — the pool table in the basement; the trip to Brick’s Spelling Bee; Brick’s fear of crossing bridges in a car. But when Frankie and Mike have their own plot, there’s only time for so much additional story in a given episode. Go with the wrong kid for the remainder, and the entire episode might suffer. This week that’s exactly what happened.

We’ve already experienced way too much of Sue being overlooked and under-noticed. I continue to maintain that teachers know who their students are no matter how invisible they may be to their fellow students, but that’s beside the point here. It’s just that I don’t want to sit through more of her unsuccessfully attempting to change so that she might fit in. It would even be preferable for her to simply embrace how different she is. She was just being ridiculous by changing her name to Sookie and “becoming” right-handed (although I thought the latter could have been explored further). It didn’t work for me.

In fact, most of the episode didn’t work for me. This show rarely suffers a bad episode, so one miss doesn’t mean much, but it does mean that I waited for weeks for a new episode only to be disappointed. Hopefully next time they’ll be back to par.

In the meantime, some other moments of note:

  • Mike referencing the Band-Aid that’s been on Frankie’s nightstand since Halloween. Gross, but funny
  • Sue needs to learn to stop approaching people who never know who or what she is, but I enjoyed the cheerleaders questioning the existence of the Wrestlerettes — that’s not something we really have here — and asking if there was in fact a wrestling team
  • I didn’t think Jane Marsh, Guidance Counselor, was a particularly good character, but nice job landing Whoopi Goldberg!
  • Axl asking “Isn’t the sanctuary where they lock up crazy people?”
  • Axl rebranding himself “Rock Star” … and Frankie “Blah, Blah, Blah”
  • I thought Frankie was going to stay on the phone for six hours and fifty-two minutes, giving Mike a countdown on how long he had to figure out the bed before she asked for help
  • Axl slamming the door on his fingers was great physical comedy
  • Jane Marsh’s parking spot sign reading “Guid Couns/Visitor.” Although it kind of made sense in hindsight when we learned that she only works two days a week. They should update the sign to read “Visitors (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Only),” but should the spot sit empty three days a week?
  • Sue landing on the “In Memoriam” page was not funny. It just wasn’t

Next time!

Photo Credit: ABC

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