Although many people thought it was the end for the Hecks after the series finale of “The Middle” on ABC, one Heck’s story will likely live on. Eden Sher, who plays the middle child, Sue Heck, will star in a new spinoff that would premiere sometime next year if ABC picks it up.
“The Middle” followed the lives of the Hecks, a family living in the fictional Midwestern town of Orson, Indiana. The show completed its ninth and final season in May. “It was the only show [at the time] that was really representing working class Americans,” said Patricia Heaton, who played the mother, Frankie, in a TV Guide interview.
The fact that the Hecks weren’t affluent made the show more relatable to viewers. One IMDb reviewer writes,“ ‘The Middle’ is a great example of the average American family trying to stay afloat in today’s economy.”
Sue Heck may be Eden Sher’s most well-known role (at least to me), but she also did many projects outside of “The Middle.” She voices the lead for Disney XD’s “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” and starred in movies such as Netflix’s “Step Sisters” and “The Outcasts.”
Sue’s spinoff is exciting news for so many who loved her character on the show. She was always my favorite of the Hecks, as I had things in common with her, like being a middle child and the same age. She wore brightly colored clothes that didn’t always match and she didn’t have the best coordination, but she was happy despite her social status at school or her socioeconomic status at home. It’s not every show you get to see a character grow from middle school to college. Sue has managed to remain true to her bright, dorky self for nine years.
Honestly, I could see any of the three Heck children in a spinoff. Sue’s hilariously over-confident, slacker older brother, Axl, and her brilliant, socially awkward, book-loving little brother, Brick, have enough personality to carry a successful spinoff on their own. Compared to her brothers, though, Sue is the most deserving of her own show. Her unfailingly optimistic and positive outlook makes her shine.
For example, Sue declares her senior year, “The Year of Sue.” The previous three years of high school, she struggled to fit in and was rarely noticed outside of her group of equally dorky friends — a sharp contrast to sports superstar Axl. Although things don’t goes as planned during that year (she has to take P.E. again because Wrestlerettes, a group she created, was not counted as a credit), she still looks back on it fondly.
Sue’s kindness is rivaled by no one (okay, maybe, Mr. Rogers), and is an important trait that is not present enough in this world. While it’s easy to be kind when people are kind to you, it’s harder when they’re not. Even when many of the other high school students in the show are rude to Sue, instead of pitching a fit, she only responds with more kindness.
There’s a running gag in the show that the other students are not even aware of her existence. In one episode, two cheerleaders (Axl isn’t sure which one he is dating) are hanging out at the Heck’s house. They ask Sue what she is doing there. She says she lives there, but the other girls insist that Axl doesn’t have a sister.
Most people would be upset if something similar happened to them. Sue clearly is irritated, as she corrects the cheerleaders often throughout the episode, but at the end she just goes along with it, because she knows her relationship with those girls is not going to change either way.
One true testament to Sue’s kindness is the way she treats Axl. He often pulls pranks on her and calls her names, which leads to a lot of arguments between the two siblings. She rarely tries to get revenge on Axl, which is something that he points out after both of them have their wisdom teeth removed and they are loopy from the drugs used during the procedure.
Sue is also a very determined go-getter. Another running gag on the show is that she almost never makes any team that she tries out for at school. Whenever she does, it’s due to some weird loophole or just an accident. (Even when she gets to college, a lot of her extracurricular activities are described as “no-cut” because anyone can join.)
After not making various sports groups in high school, she takes initiative and forms her own dance group to cheer on the wrestling team called the Wrestlerettes. The group is expectedly full of other dorky misfits, but they still have fun.
Since the spinoff is only in its early stages, details about Sue’s new young adult life are scarce. So far, all that has been revealed is that in the planned pilot episode, she will have graduated from college and she’s not yet in a relationship with her neighbor, Sean Donahue. Although he was teased as a potential love interest for Sue in later seasons of “The Middle,” they were never made official.
“The Middle” fans are left to ponder over what the future holds for this plucky heroine. One aspect that I would like to see explored is her career. In the next to last season, viewers see Sue struggling to pick a major. She wants to pick theatre, but she declares hospitality and hotel management instead, because that line of study had better job prospects.
Viewers don’t get to see what types of classes she takes for her major. I assume she’s going to work for a hotel, which would be fun to watch in a TV show. I’m still sad she didn’t pick psychology and decide to become a therapist, because she talked about being interested in that major in earlier seasons. Her optimism, kindness and self-determination are great traits for a therapist, but really any career. She loves working with and helping people, so it’s not a total career mismatch.
Wherever the writers take Sue’s character, I know it’ll be great as long they keep Sue, Sue.