‘The Middle’ is a sitcom created by Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline that first began airing in 2009. The series revolves around the life of a lower-middle-class family living in rural Indiana. The dysfunctional family comprises Frankie Heck, a middle-aged underperforming saleswoman, her husband Mike, and their three children. The eldest son Axl is a dimwitted athlete, the youngest child, Brick, an introverted but academically gifted boy, and the middle child, Sue, an underconfident but bright young girl.
A heartfelt series about family, love, friendships, adolescence, mid-life crisis, and so much more, ‘The Middle’ has been a critical success receiving heaps of praise from critics and audiences. Its unique approach to the subjects it deals with, and a merry band of characters evokes a full spectrum of emotions hyphenated by the cast’s brilliant performances and stellar writing. If you have binged through all nine seasons of the show and still crave some dysfunctional family shenanigans, we have compiled a list of similar family comedies that will help you fill the void left behind by the Heck family. You can watch most of these shows like ‘The Middle’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
7. Modern Family (2009-2020)
To start off the list, we have ‘Modern Family,’ a mockumentary-style sitcom created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan. It follows the multi-cultural, multi-generational Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan and their day-to-day lives. In stark contrast to ‘The Middle,’ it follows the shenanigans of an affluent family, and some would definitely argue that being on air at the same time as ‘Modern Family’ definitely hurt the former show’s popularity. Nonetheless, ‘Modern Family’ still has the same dysfunctional family dynamic, and the Dunphy family, in particular, will definitely remind you of the Hecks.
6. The Goldbergs (2013-)
‘The Goldbergs‘ is another family sitcom, but with a period twist that gives audiences a peek at family life in 80s Pennsylvania. The semi-autobiographical series created by Adam F. Goldberg follows the titular family and how they deal with the rapidly changing world around them. Filled with numerous references to 80s pop culture, the series is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for everyone. The Goldberg kids, Erica, Barry, and Adam, share many personality traits with Sue, Axl, and Brick. Their parents, Murray and Beverly, share a similar parenting style to that of Frankie and Mike.
5. Man With A Plan (2016-2020)
‘Man With A Plan,’ created by Jackie and Jeff Filgo, follows Adam Burns (‘Friends‘ star Matt LeBlanc), a suburban dad who takes on a majority of the parenting duties of his three children after his wife decides to return to work. Compared to ‘The Middle,’ it is the family patriarch who deals with most of his children’s antics. Unlike Mike, who teaches his kids to live well within their means (not by choice, of course), Adam goes to hilariously great extents to fulfill his kids’ demands and ambitious dreams. Therefore, it is fun to watch similar conflicts as those in ‘The Middle’ being dealt with in a different approach.
4. Last Man Standing (2011-2021)
Created by Jack Burditt, ‘Last Man Standing‘ follows Mike Baxter (Tim Allen), a staunchly conservative American man, and his day-to-day life revolving around his work and family, including his wife and three daughters. It is extremely entertaining to watch Allen bring his comedic genius to the family comedy sub-genre. His character’s stoicism and conservationism perfectly match Mike’s from ‘The Middle.’ Moreover, the Baxters are the only family on the list that is female-dominated, which makes Mike’s trials and tribulations all the more hysterical and refreshing.
3. Fresh Off the Boat (2015-2020)
‘Fresh Off the Boat‘ is a sitcom set in the 90s that revolves around a Taiwanese-American family, the Huangs, who move to Orlando, Florida, where they own and operate a new cowboy-style restaurant. Like the Hecks, the Huang family also comprises three children and is considered a bit of an “odd-ball” in the local community. Similar to the Heck kids, the Huangs also struggle to fit into their surroundings. It is a culturally ambivalent take on the dysfunctional family trope of sitcoms that is quirky and entertaining.
2. Young Sheldon (2017-)
A spin-off of ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ one of the most popular sitcoms of the 21st century, ‘Young Sheldon‘ (created by Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro) is about the titular boy genius’s childhood days and early family life. His family struggles to deal with his quirky intellectual sensibilities, and the boy struggles to interact, connect, and fit in with those around him. Sheldon’s character is similar to Brick from ‘The Middle’ in the sense that they both are introverted but gifted kids, to say the least. Both boys’ families also have to accommodate their needs and treat them with special care, resulting in similar conflicts.
1. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006)
‘Malcolm in the Middle’ follows an unnamed dysfunctional working-class family comprising the couple, Hal and Lois, and their four (later five) children. Similar to ‘The Middle,’ the initial focus is on one child, Malcolm, who has a genius-level IQ, but later episodes focus on all members equally. Malcolm’s personality is a mix of Sue and Brick’s, and families from both shows face similar problems due to their working-class backgrounds. ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ is the OG family comedy show of the 2000s, and many of the shows on this list, including ‘The Middle,’ have paid homage to it through their episodes. Its similar array of characters, setting, and vibe make it a must-watch for fans of ‘The Middle.’
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