One of the greatest strengths of The Middle is its balance in representation/emphasis of characters. Since the show is derived from the story of a Midwest family, fittingly the main role highlighted is the mother. The sequence of events is often correlated with Frankie Hess, and the show does not fail to portray her dynamic character qualities. Although three of the five family members are male, The Middle focuses on the mom’s perspective with the frequent use of commentary.
In regard to occupation, The Middle defies the commonality our group discovered during our gender representation analysis. Rather than stressing Mike’s job, the show keeps most of the attention centered at the car dealership where Frankie is depicted as working hard for her family. This contrasts with the many ABC shows our group investigated for our project. The trend in these shows was to establish the male occupation as the main contributor to the family. The Middle rarely strays from its documentation of Frankie’s career, and it’s refreshing to be given this rather uncommon outlook.
Outside of the Heck family, many of the characters are male, including Frankie’s workplace (Bob, her boss, etc.). However, these characters are typically very flat. In fact, one might conclude that the only truly progressive characters are within the Heck family. I see Frankie and Sue as more dynamic than the males in the family. Because of this, I do not see a notable imbalance in gender. Perhaps more male roles appear, but the divide among the main characters is equitable.
The representation by race in The Middle is atrocious, but one must acknowledge that the show takes place in the Midwest. From experience, I can attest that the show is accurate…like very accurate. As much as I support the widening minority roles to improve the accuracy of TV and movies, The Middle is not at fault for its cast. Also, by design, there seems to be a relatively uniform status across the show. Most characters appropriately fall into the middle class. This is essentially the basis for the show, as The Middle defines what is really important in life.
In conclusion, the authenticity within The Middle is translated to gender. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the Heck family events pan out, told by the most influential family figure, the mother!