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'The Middle' recap: 'You never stop worrying about your kids'

Season 6 | Episode 3 | “Major Anxiety” | Aired Oct 8, 2014

The Heck kids continue to grow into young adults right before our TV-viewing eyes. In this week’s episode of The Middle, Sue discovers caffeine, Brick tries to become popular, and Axl must decide what he wants to do with his life—no pressure or anything.

The “Year of Sue” is becoming a little stressful for the Hecks’ daughter. With clubs, school, and college essays, Sue tires from running around so much. Since she’s turning into an adult, Sue discovers the gift that keeps adults running for days on end: coffee. And like any first-time coffee drinker, she loves it a little too much. Caffeine has Sue bouncing off the walls and unable to function. She isn’t exactly on the Jessie Spano “I’m so excited!!” level, but it is enough to convince Sue that she needs to cut the caffeine before it takes over. It’s very typical Sue to think she’s actually addicted to coffee after just a couple of cups, but it’s good that she isn’t letting anything ruin the “Year of Sue.”

Brick has always been an extremely bright kid who struggles with being a little strange socially, so it comes as a shock to everyone in the family when he announces he wants to become popular. Maybe he doesn’t realize that popular people are actually friends with one another and have conversations with one another. It is a little sad to see Brick upset that all his other socially awkward peers are branching out while he’s still unsure of how to act at school.

The youngest Heck decides to jump right into the popularity shark tank in the most shocking way: He wants to go to the school dance. It’s good that Brick is really putting an effort into getting past his awkwardness. He doesn’t exactly stay at the dance very long, and it doesn’t seem like he’s making a whole bunch of new friends, but he’s trying and that’s a good thing.

Unlike Sue and Brick, who are trying to grow up and make themselves better people, the oldest Heck is stuck in his old, high school, lazy ways. Axl needs to pick a college major in the next 24 hours, and is probably shocked to realize that football and video games are not actual college courses. Don’t get me wrong; picking a college major is tough, especially these days. Very few 19-year-olds know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, especially 19-year-olds like Axl who have never put in any effort whatsoever regarding their future.

At least he has a loving mother who gives great advice, like when she tells him, “Don’t pick a major that’s going to get phased out, like video store clerk, or journalist.” Womp, womp …

The first three episodes of this season have been much more kid-focused than previous seasons, where the emphasis was mostly on the parents. This shift is good, though, because each kid is at a critical point in his or her life, and it’s interesting to see them grow and to see how the parents react to that growth. And we still have classic Frankie and Mike moments, like tonight, when Mike tries to watch a basketball game while Brick is asking for advice. Or when Frankie reminds us that “The thing is, you never stop worrying about your kids.”

The Middle airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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