English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: The Middle

Flying Over the Writing in The Middle

According to the Rodney Richey’s article, “DeAnn Heline Writes, Produces ‘The Middle,’” the executive producers of The Middle are Eileen Heister and DeAnn Heline.  Heister of Chicago and Heline, born in Muncie, IN, were no strangers to the central Indiana environment depicted by The Middle.   These two producers were roommates at Indiana University and had the idea to pitch the series to Warner Bros in California.  Heiseter and Heline, who won The Humanitas Prize for their success with The Middle, brought a lot to the table.  Not only did the two demonstrate great personal experience, but also professional work as writers for Roseanne (Richey).

Writers Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline.

The dialogue in The Middle is structured to be authentic to the theme and setting of the show.  Often times the main character illustrated in the sitcom, Frankie Hess, utilizes voiceovers to inform readers of ongoing or past events and personal thoughts or struggles.  In my opinion, this tool makes the show much more effective at presenting its message and keeps the audience entertained.  The Middle thrives on viewers that can sympathize with the events and characters portrayed in the story.  When the voiceovers are used, relating to the main character becomes effortless.

Silence is rarely used in The Middle, but when it is, often it is to express the quiet nature of the Midwest, or as it is described in the show, Flyover country.  The title sequence generally includes corn fields and a blue sky shown in the frame with a jet plane flying over.  This is to signify the desolate surroundings.  I believe this contrasts the emptiness associated with the Midwest with the strong relationships, loving families, and hospitality lying further within.

The scene depicted by The Middle is pretty accurate.

The Middle also uses many flashbacks to show how each character has evolved and how Frankie has fought the struggles of raising a middle-class family over time.  The references to a typical Indiana environment are profound in the show.  I feel more connected with the overall picture when I see these allusions.  For example, the occasional Colts apparel, basketball references, and camaraderie of small neighborhoods remind me of my former home.  It honestly makes me homesick when I realize I haven’t witnessed these elements in quite some time.

The number one factor that stands out to me concerning the writing is authenticity.  As I’ve stated, I pick up on the small details that allow the audience to feel immersed in the show.  Even if one has never stepped foot in the Midwest, it’s easy to watch the middle-class family events unfold and exclaim, “I’ve been there.”  I see this as the most powerful component of The Middle.  Also, when the plot is detailed through the mother of the family, it is more engaging for the observer.  A mother’s perspective into the traditional middle-class family is unique in the television world, and The Middle prospers because of it.


Richey, Rodney. “DeAnn Heline Writes, Produces ‘The Middle.’” The Herald Bulletin, 20 Oct. 2009, http://www.heraldbulletin.com/community/deann-heline-writes-produces-the-middle/article_2dd38b0a-7e53-56e1-ae44-665b630b91fb.html. Accessed 8 Sep. 2018.

“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” – Leslie Knope

Hello!  My name is Landon Eisenhut and I am an Aerospace Engineering major from Evansville, Indiana.  Fun fact: Parks and Recreation is based on my hometown!  I’d love to be able to graduate by 2022, but I can’t ignore the possibility of that extending into 2023.

As with most Yellow Jackets, I’ve largely been a STEM student throughout my academic career.  The two AP English courses offered at my high school were pretty much the only AP classes I didn’t register for.  I did take an English course at a local college over the summer, but this is my first GT English exposure.  In my experience, I feel more satisfied after effecting my verbal communication.  However, it has not always been my strong point.  Occasionally I become difficult to understand when my low voice combines with my often-lazy annunciation.  I hope to improve in this area this semester.  I’ve already made attempts to be more social and enhance my vocal abilities.  In addition to verbal, I enjoy written communication because I love to create things.  I like to look at a piece of my writing with my name on it and see my voice.  My devotion to creating things goes beyond my writing…as seen from the attached video, I love to make videos capturing my life!

I’ve always been passionate about a few TV shows.  I don’t have a large collection of shows I watch, but I’m well versed in the ones I do watch.  References to various TV episodes make the way into my every day conversations.  While I’m not a TV fanatic, I can watch episodes of certain shows and never want them to end (Stranger Things, Silicon Valley, sometimes Parks and Rec or The Office).  Netflix is never a bad way to spend a weekend, even if it’s in solidarity.  It’s fortunate that my roommate was out of town during my binge watch of The Good Place at 1:00am!

I have chosen to review The Middle for this class.  The Middle encompasses an Indiana middle class family and the experiences that arise with home life, work, and raising children.  Being from Indiana, I’m excited to be able to relate to the situations depicted in the show.  I’ve always loved the Midwest, and perhaps this show will almost make me feel at home.

Image result for stranger things hopper gif dancing

Me when I come home to watch The Middle as homework.

The only sample I have of The Middle is the episode portraying Sue’s Indiana college search.  I fondly connected with the moments in this episode, and I anticipate more of this throughout the series.

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