Do any of you watch The Middle? I do and I find it hilarious. Interesting fact… way back when it first premiered (the same year as Modern Family) I wasn’t going to watch it. For whatever reason it didn’t appeal to me in the beginning. I don’t know why, but I gave it a chance. It truly is a funny show.
Anyway, if you’ve never seen it it’s a family sitcom about the Hecks, a working class family living in Orson, IN. Mike works at the quarry and Frankie is a dental assistant. They have three children- Axl, Sue, and Brick. Unlike most sitcoms where the families are always upper middle class with fabulous lives the Hecks are always struggling. In the last year or so Mike and his brother started a college logo diaper business together. Say what? Yes, the diapers have the name of a college team on the outside and then their rival’s name is on the inside of the diaper. You know, so you can shit or piss all over your opponent. It’s actually becoming a profitable business and for the first time ever the Hecks have a little wiggle room. I give you all of this background information because it’s important to this past week’s storyline and how Mike rocks.
Sue is the middle child. Often forgotten by others she remains an eternal optimist. In high school she tried out for everything (although she rarely made the team) and in general she is just a cheerful, good natured, see the best in every situation type of girl. She’s now beginning her second year of college. She applied for and received financial aid for all four years of college. Unfortunately for her she needed to fill out her financial aid forms each year and she forgot. She gets to school and finds out she’s been dropped due to non-payment and she’s told there’s no way to reinstate the financial aid for this year; if she wants to attend classes she will have to pay the entire balance.
Naturally, Sue is freaking out. She runs home and tells her parents what is going on and Mike, who is generally very stoic and hands off, volunteers to talk to the bursar, probably in no small part because Frankie threatens to burn the place down.
Before they go in he warns Sue that she’s going to see him do things he’s not very proud of. He puts on the charm and does his best to convince her to give Sue a chance to fill out the paperwork so her aid can be reinstated. For Mike, this is huge. He’s sucking up. He’s handing out compliments. He’s acting all folksy and charming; however, it doesn’t work.
Sue is devastated. As she’s packing up her room her roommate asks her what she’s going to do. Sue replies that she’ll move back in with her parents and go back to work at Spudsies for the year. As Sue and Lexie are talking about how much they’re going to miss each other and Sue is listing all of the things she’s going to miss about college life she gets a notification on her computer. She’s back in! She’s been reinstated and is now registered for classes. She and Lexie jump around and shriek with joy. Hooray! The bursar must have taken pity on her and all the sucking up her dad did must have paid off.
Later, we see Mike and Frankie talking. She tells him that he must have been persuasive because Sue is once again enrolled at East Indiana State. He confesses that he didn’t convince the bursar; she wouldn’t budge. There was no financial aid. He paid the entire balance by selling his half of the diaper business. Frankie questions him about selling his half, knowing he loved it and it was going to be their nest egg. “Why?” she asks him, and he replies simply, “It’s Sue.”
Maybe you need to be a regular viewer to fully understand it, but when he spoke that one simple line it brought tears to my eyes.
Here is this man who has spent years struggling to provide for his family. His daughter messes up and forgets to fill out her financial aid forms again and will have to spend the year at home instead of being at school. So he does the only thing he can do if he wants her to continue on- he sells his half of the diaper business, the only thing of value he has.
He was willing to give up his nest egg to make his daughter’s dreams come true. Why? Because she’s Sue, the always happy, perpetually optimistic middle child.
I know this is a fictional character and yet I can’t help comparing him to CF. CF would never make such a sacrifice for either of his kids. He moved out of state and didn’t bother to inform his kids. He has visited those children exactly zero times since moving yet could make the drive every weekend when he had to drive down to see Harley. Sell off a valued business venture, or anything of value to help them out? Oh please! He’s far too busy trying to impress Harley and her kids to bother with his own. The entire time he pocketed almost $5000/month and had no bills he never once gave his kids anything extra aside from their allowances. Harley was quite busy spending his money on her own kids and making sure they got every advantage of his money but he didn’t bother with doing anything extra for his two. He couldn’t afford $80 for his own daughter’s Homecoming dress. He was so eager to get closer to Harley that he walked away from tens of thousands in unvested stock. He quit not one but two jobs in a four month span. He left his kids without health insurance. He forced them out of their home. He forced them to relocate once again, a mere two years after uprooting them and systematically dismantling their lives. He stood by and let his daughter transfer high schools her junior year. She got screwed out of her driver’s license because of his selfish behavior. That’s the father I gave my own children.
Mike Heck may not be real but he’s a better father than CF will ever be. Mike, when asked why he would sell something important to him, shrugs his shoulders and replies simply, “It’s Sue.” CF, if asked why he would do all that he has done to his children, would undoubtedly reply, “It’s all about me! I deserve to be happy.”