The Middle 7×03 ‘The Shirt’ : Middle-life crisis

Axl’s worst nightmare becomes reality when Sue interferes with his love life. Brick’s cleaning methods threaten to bring the Heck house down around it’s occupants. And, most shocking of all, Mike wears a Hawaiian shirt. It’s the end times, people, head for the bunkers.

So, Mike. Mike seems to be going through a midlife crisis. I wouldn’t have thought him the type for such things, but that’s why I’m not writing the show. It’s amusing to watch him get torn to pieces by his family over that ridiculous shirt, because when isn’t it amusing to watch family members bond over mocking one of their own? And the bike. Mike on a motorcycle. That certainly is…interesting. Guess having two of his kids out of the house has caused him to lose his mind a bit.

After a rocky start, Sue’s really taking to college. Especially when she realizes that none of the many, many clubs she signs up for will kick her out. You can practically see the wheels turning in her head when she figures this out, see her remembering seasons past when she tried out for everything in the book and didn’t make the cut. Now, a whole bunch of clubs where cuts aren’t a thing? She’s not just a kid in a candy store, she’s a kid who hasn’t eaten in three days, dropped into Willy Wonka’s domain. Me, I want that episode where she tries to jiggle fifty clubs and schoolwork, and realizes it’s not really doable. You hinted at it, writers, so you’d better make it happen.

For now, Sue’s big mouth gets Axl in trouble when she accidentally scares away his girlfriend, then has to fix it. Through song. And yes, the song was totally one of the best parts of the episode. I also liked that we saw Axl’s girlfriend again, and how much he wants her in his life. The storylines that give him some kind of emotional element, however thin (him buying pizza for Sue or missing his girl) are so much better than the ones where he’s just being a stupid college boy, with nothing else to play.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

The Hecks continue to be pretty awful parents to Brick, ordering him to do the chores of three people. Seriously parents, what is this, Cinderella? When he’s told to clean the bathroom, he can’t just clean it normally, he needs guidance. And where does he go when he needs guidance? Clearly his parents are out, so it’s off to Youtube. Sadly Brick doesn’t realize that some channels are more reliable than others, so he kind of breaks the bathroom. Good news there is that it forces Frankie to realize that she can’t just leave the kid to his own devices. She has to, you know, be a parent, even if two of her three kids are gone. Otherwise Brick will end up neglected and emotionally scarred. And, possibly more concerning to her, the bathroom will get wrecked.

I quite liked this episode. Usually, at least one character gets a weaker storyline than the others, just the nature of an ensemble show. Here, even if everyone didn’t get the same screen time, they were all doing funny/interesting things, and it was cool to see Sue and Axl finally interacting in a college setting.

Well played, writers. Now give us that show about Sue and her club overload.

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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