One of my favorite Twitter buddies ,@woofette 30, runs AnyHourGifts.com a fun website with amazing gifts for pets and their humans.
Besides loving animals, she loves ABC's The Middle as much as I do. Last season we tweeted some of the best snippets of the Middle's shanigans.
Some of the best parts of The Middle, in my opinion, are the actions of the three Heck children.
Meet The Heck Children - Axl, Sue And Brick
There's the oldest Heck, Axl (Charlie McDermott), who is in high school and is that perpetually bored and lazy jock who lives for football, hanging at the pool in the summer as the lifeguard and chasing girls.
The middle child is Sue (Eden Sher) who more than makes up for Axl's laziness with her can-do attitude. Even though she's flops miserably at everything she does. She also wears braces and embodies the classic goodie-two-shoes dork personality. Then there's Brick (Atticus Shaffer), the youngest, who's a classic bookworm with a bad case of chronic procrastination.
As if three quirky kids isn't enough to drive Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) crazy, she's got her husband Mike (Neil Flynn), her job at the car lot and her strange boss who insists upon calling her Francis.
Neighbors Losing Their Homes In The Heck Neighborhood
In last night's episode (10/19/11) titled Bad Choices an array of bad choices made or contemplated by The Heck Family were explored. The episode opened with the Hecks attending a neighborhood party which Axl deems "blows".
Frankie is shocked to hear from some of the other moms that one of the neighbors lost their house because they couldn't keep up with the mortgage.
Frankie looks around and realizes that the neighborhood has lost more than one family due to the current economic crunch. Which explains several missing ingredients on the buffet table like forks.
Frankie told the neighbor ladies that she thought the missing neighbors were just off visiting family. Which of course they were now doing permanently.
Her shock at hearing about a neighbor losing their home hits a little too close for comfort with Frankie who is dealing similar challenge in her own life with her family.
Exploding Dishwashers And Leaking Roofs
The challenge of trying to keep their 20 year old house from completely falling apart around them. Not only is the family dishwasher on its last legs, the family has to interrupt their time at a neighborhood party, to rush home and install bowls, pans, cups and glasses under all the leaks springing up from their crumbling roof in a rain storm.
This latest roof crisis is nothing new for Frankie and Mike who constantly struggle with trying to make ends meet in a bad economy while working at relatively low paying jobs, trying to provide for three growing kids and never really seeming to get ahead financially.
Axl's Sick/Not Sick Scheme
Meanwhile Axl who is too lazy to study for an upcoming Spanish class concocts a brilliant plan - at least in his mind - of how to be sick/not sick/sick/not sick in order to attend all the important events in his life such as a fun party and football while avoiding the dreaded Spanish test.
Axl brags to his friends how he is going to play mom Frankie and dad Mike to get their total sympathy. He references his ability to con his mom "like take candy from an old baby."
Axl plays mom and dad brilliantly. Not only does he have their complete concern and sympathy triggered by his fake coughing and vomiting, he cons Frankie into insisting he go to the party and even giving him gas money. Axl goes to the party where he brags about his unfolding sick/not sick/sick/not sick plan.
Unfortunately Axl discovers from his friends that the football coach deems any of the players not in school the next day can't play in the football game that evening. Axl cooks up a totally crazy excuse about why he can't take his Spanish test and tells his suspicious teacher that he's Jewish and that due to a special Jewish Holiday he can't take a test. When that excuse squeaks by his Spanish teacher offers to give him a make-up test on the weekend.
Axl sadly explains he can't take the test because his 97 year old aunt has died after driving off a bridge while texting. He eliminates her disbelief by showing her a newspaper with the obituary.
Of course the viewers know that Axl knew the name of the elderly woman because Sue had recently told her mom about the texting tragedy. Axl picked up the newspaper to show his teach. Somehow he makes it work and he wins his teacher's completely sympathy.
Sue Heck - The Angel Of Texting While Driving Death
Meanwhile Sue and her ex-boyfriend Brad, who appears to Frankie and Mike to be gay (unbeknowst to a very naive Sue) volunteer at an student assembly to put on a skit for the entire high school about the dangers of texting and driving.
Sue desperately wants to belong to just about anything. As a result, the go-gooder teen is always volunteering which helps to boost her sagging ego. Especially now that she's a freshman and trying so hard to make a great impression in high school.
Sue is so thrilled to be the volunteer ambassador that she tells Frankie and Mike "Brad and I are non-texting and driving ambassadors. Everyone's counting on us." Of course no one really cares but Sue throws herself into creating a song and dance skit with Brad which is complete with costumes and references to why you can't text when you're dead.
Brick Spews Shakespeare
Meanwhile Bricks spends the entire episode spouting off Shakespearean quotes which most people don't understand, but think it sounds nice and it's a nice party trick.
The final straw to the problems with the house is when the ailing dishwater literally explodes after a troubling cycle and flood waters come pouring out.
Sue and Frankie scream for Mike who is running around trying to disconnect the water while Axl sits motionless at the kitchen table pretending to have a relapse while water laps at his feet. Brick shows up to try and add levity to the mayhem by providing the appropriate quote.
When pieces of plyboard from the ceiling collapse on Frankie's head, she decides enough is enough. After consulting with a work buddy she convinces Mike and the rest of the family to go check out an apartment complex (Hickory Arms - not Farms ) as a possible new living option.
Frankie is trying to convince Mike and the kids that they can just abandon their 20 year old crumbling house and move into a spanking new apartment where they don't have to worry about an exploding dishwasher.
While the apartment is lovely and complete with a sliding glass door which really works onto a beautiful patio, Mike is skeptical. The three Heck kids are horrified. They don't want to leave their neighborhood or friends and the new apartment is miles away from their current home.
When the three kids freak out about moving Frankie tells them they don't get a vote.
Alls Well That Ends In Typical Heck Fashion
Although Frankie is torn about leaving the home she and Mike have shared with the kids, she's pushing to jump ship and move to the new apartment.
Mike is unwilling to just abandon the family home. He feels that it's not right to just walk away.
With a heavy heart Mike gets up on the roof and tries to stretch the life of the roof that they can't afford to replace by patching it.
Sue and Brad put on their performance at the school in front of the student body. Dressed as an angel complete with wings Sue sings and dances her heart out.
Her skit with the title of Bad Choice is met with mostly silence, a few bored claps and a "you suck" from the back of the auditorium. In typical Sue fashion she beams thinking her performance was a hit.
While Mike is up on the roof working on the roof - "one last band aide before moving on to Hickory Arms." A neighbor comes by and offers some leftover shingles. Another neighbor comes along and offers a staple gun. Soon several of the neighborhood men have joined MIke helping to re-tile the entire Heck roof.
The women gather down in the street in front of the Hecks. To Axl's horror he hears the women talking about the party he conned his mother into having him attend. Then he hears his Spanish teach offer her condolences on the loss of beloved Aunt Betty. Of course Frankie asks what Aunt Betty and Axl knows he's had it.Axl is completely busted by his parents and is grounded indefinitely. Meanwhile Frankie ends the episode by talking about how grateful she is to be living in a neighborhood where all of the neighbors help each other get through the bad times. The Hecks are staying put in their home.