15 shows about working-class families that aren’t Roseanne

11 of 16

The Middle

Sadly, this show just aired its last episodes, but I’ve been a fan of this sleeper hit for years. It is one of the only shows airing on contemporary TV that simply focuses on the lives of hard-working Americans, without any plot gimmicks or narrative tricks. It’s just about the Heck family. That’s it, and it’s wonderful.

The premise: The Middle’s success lies in its ability to deliver stories about everyday life and not be boring. It really is just about Frankie and Mike Heck and their three children living in the small town of Orson, Indiana.

Over the years, we see Frankie and Mike have to make decisions about their quirky younger son, Brick; figure out how to pay for a new dishwasher; and routinely forget important school meetings because they both work and often overwhelmed with the effort it takes to just maintain life, generally.

Why you’ll like it: Why wouldn’t you like it? I guarantee it will remind you, in some way or another, of your life. Either you grew up with parents like Frankie and Mike, flustered and worried that they aren’t doing enough, but not knowing how to do more. Or you had a sibling like Sue, Brick, or Axl, and although they were super annoying and hard to manage, you loved them anyway.

The show is more about real life than any other show on TV, except its lack of people of color. I enjoy watching a normal family, who isn’t wearing $50 t-shirts, just live their lives together. It’s sweet, and resonates with me, as I imagine it will with you.

Where to find it: You can watch all nine seasons on ABCGo or Hulu, but be warned: there are no more new episodes, so savor every one.