The final episode of “The Middle” premiered on May 22. Since its debut in 2009, “The Middle” has been a relatable satire that follows the lives of the Heck family in the rural Orson, Indiana. Other television shows in the past have featured ideal families, like “Leave it to Beaver” back in the 1950s and “Full House” in the 1990s; however, “The Middle” showcases an unfiltered version of a typical family in the 21st century.
With a final goodbye and the actors’ accurate stereotypes of American life, “The Middle” brilliantly closes out its ninth season by bestowing closure for all the Hecks—especially through Axl’s maturity and Sue’s love life—and bringing back memorable easter eggs from the past seasons like Reverend TimTom and the Hecks’ iconic squabbles.
With Frankie (Patricia Heaton) as the caring but overbearing-at-times mother, Mike (Neil Flynn) as the impassive father, Axl (Charlie McDermott) as the irritable son, Sue (Eden Sher) as the optimistic daughter and Brick (Atticus Shaffer) as the quirky son, “The Middle” has been a time capsule representing the average life of a middle-class family living in the middle of nowhere.
The season begins as Axl returns home Europe with a manbun and relaxed attitude. In episode eight, he visits his college friend Hutch (Alphonso McAuley), who is now a mature adult but was once a lazy student athlete like Axl. In turn, Axl gets a haircut and a job, and he decides to reexamine his life choices.
With her endless scrapbooks, inspirational posters and relentless cheerfulness, Sue serves as the upbeat comic relief. Throughout the season, Sue and her neighbor Sean Donahue (Beau Wirick) go back and forth proclaiming their feelings for each other, symbolized by a snowglobe, and they do not become a couple until the very last episode. The Donahue family is the stereotypically perfect family in the neighborhood that have been regulars on the show to juxtapose with the slovenly lives of the Hecks.
Serving as an inspiration to the adolescent Sue, Reverend TimTom (Paul Hipp) had been on the show in past seasons as a folk singer that made learning religion cool. In episode 13 of the last season, he returns and goes on a singing tour throughout Indiana with Frankie. He is also in “A Heck of a Ride” as a wedding officiant.
Other characters return to the last season, such as Mike’s brother Rusty (Norm MacDonald), Mike’s father Grandpa Big Mike (John Cullum), Brick’s therapist Dr. Fulton (Dave Foley) and Frankie’s boss Dr. Goodwin (Jack McBrayer). Their significance in past seasons comes full circle with their comforting and humorous returns.
As for Brick, he is always the one to sit in the middle during family road trips; therefore, he is the one to intake all of the Heck’s insanity. In the last episode, Sue and Axl fight over freezing Sue’s body after death, Frankie and Mike fight about their wills written on a napkin and everybody fights about the lost blue bag of snacks.
The end of the episode takes a look into the future of the Hecks, highlighting Axl’s success in business, Sue’s love life and Brick’s success as an author. This preview into the rest of the Hecks’ lives provides a conclusion to their memories as a family and is a perfect ending to compliment each of their personalities.
Brick may be sitting in the middle, Sue may be the middle child, Axl may be in the middle of starting a career after a mediocre schooling experience—any which way, the Heck family represents the majority of modern American families, and those families watch the show together weekly. “The Middle” ends its run with the closure of a slightly dysfunctional family and the return of the fan-favorite details and characters from past seasons.