The Middle 6×19 ‘Siblings and Sombreros’ : Relentless

So, I’m terrible with kids, and know practically nothing about parenting. But even I understand that badmouthing one of your children to the other is a recipe for nuclear war. Frankie, unfortunately, doesn’t learn that lesson until this week. Also, we fall into the Twilight Zone when Brick wins an athletic award at school, and Sue tries to set up the most epic yearbook photo ever.

It starts, as most great tales do, with a sombrero. Sue and Brad decide they’re going to sit on a giant bull statue for their yearbook picture, and Sue needs her sombrero to complete the illusion. Which, of course, Axl has taken and forgotten to return. Sue flips out, Axl  flips out, and Frankie’s solution is to go to each sibling in private, and explain why it’s all the other one’s fault. So, Sue comes off as an overenthusiastic lunatic, and Axl is deemed a jackass. By his mother. In what universe did Frankie think that either of these kids would keep a private conversation private? Oh, Frankie. I know you were frustrated and desperate but…oh, Frankie.

Meanwhile, Mike is ecstatic when he learns that Brick won Athlete of the Month at school, Wanting to strike while the iron’s hot, he makes numerous attempts to tap into the athlete that’s apparently been hidden in Brick for all these years. That goes about as well as anyone could expect. Instead of playing tennis, Brick wants to read about playing tennis, which is just so perfectly Brick. But he doesn’t complain about his dad pushing the sports angle. He’s still not any good at sports, because of course it was all a mistake on the coach’s part, and Brick never should’ve gotten the award, but I find it significant that Brick at least tries, He wants to learn about what Mike enjoys, as evidenced by the basketball scene at the end of the show. There’s something genuinely touching about Mike teaching his son, who preciously showed no interest whatsoever, how to throw a basket. I love Heck family bonding moments, and this one was no exception.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Speaking of bonding, let’s backtrack some. After climbing a ladder to get on top of that bull statue, Sue and Brad get stuck up there. We all knew it was going to happen, people. Sue’s forced to call Axl for help (the list of people she tried calling first is hilariously long), and they end up having a genuine moment of their own. Sue apologizes for freaking out so much about a sombrero, and Axl apologizes for stealing/forgetting about it. He even tells her she has good qualities. Without gagging or taking it back two seconds later. For the love of Orson, he agrees to help look out for her next year when she starts at his school. Now, I can be hard on Axl. I find his character overly annoying sometimes. But when he takes off the jerk big brother/lazy son mask, he really does shine. Sue had a similar I’m-going-away-to-college-but-I-love-you-and-we’ll-be-there-for-each-other moment with Brick, when she drove him back from the Planet Nowhere convention, and I loved seeing her in that same kind of situation with Axl.

You Hecks. You fight and fight and fight, but you love each other too, and we love you for it.

So, Mike gets closer to Brick, and Frankie makes a horrible parenting move that actually ends up helping her kids in the end. Who can complain about an outcome like that?

Nicolette Schneider

is a lit geek, a comic geek, and a certified TV fanatic. She often prefers fictional people over real ones. When she does make friends with regular humans, she likes the ones who give her access to their Netflix accounts. She loves words and hopes to one day make money stringing them together. Until then, read those words for free on

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