Does The Malcolm In The Middle Pilot Hold Up 22 Years Later?

Does The Malcolm In The Middle Pilot Hold Up 22 Years Later?

Malcolm in the Middle was a staple for sitcom television in the early 2000s. Before Bryan Cranston was Mr. Walter White, he made his name on this series that focused on a dysfunctional lower-middle-class family. Fun fact: Aaron Paul actually wanted to play the role of Francis, and though the actor read the pilot and loved it, he was continuously rejected. It’s interesting how much connection Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle have, especially the alternate crossover ending. Nevertheless, Malcolm in the Middle was a cross between Roseanne and Married… with Children and it was a huge success. It won a Peabody Award, seven Emmys, and even a Grammy for the intro theme, Boss of Me. However, times change, and given the fact that it’s been 22 years since the pilot episode, does Malcolm in the Middle still hold up after all these years?

Within seconds of Malcolm in the Middle, I managed to laugh big. Oh Malcolm, if only you knew that being an adult was so much more difficult. Malcolm in the Middle is a simple show. It’s not some multi-layered sitcom about a family with a bunch of secrets or problems. It’s just a show that focuses on a dysfunctional, and more importantly, relatable group of people. Sure, many of us have likely never witnessed our moms shave our incredibly hairy father in the kitchen while eating waffles (a moment that genuinely happened to the show’s creator), but surely someone else out there has, right? That simplicity is why the show works in the first place. The reason shows like Malcolm in the Middle turn out to be so successful is due to the fact that most Americans grew up in this environment. Who hasn’t had to deal with the trials and tribulations of school, two brothers, and red paint on their butt? Because these shows tap into something highly relatable, it’s not hard to connect with Malcolm and his family. It helps that the cast has strong chemistry with one another. Child actors can often be hit or miss (more so the latter), so it’s great that Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey genuinely feel like brothers. Even Francis feels a part of the family and he’s pretty much in one scene. Though the montage of him apologizing to his father was downright hilarious.

It’s not just the dialogue, but the movements and dynamic that perfectly portrays the family. Given that the series is based on Linwood Boomer’s real life, it shouldn’t be too surprising that everything feels authentic. Malcolm in the Middle doesn’t try to be too crazy or outrageous, nor does it go for joke after joke. It allows viewers to ease into the story, Malcolm’s world, and the characters inhabited into it. So when the one-liners arrive, they’re able to land because we understand the characters and everything surrounding it. In the midst of this dysfunctional family is a kid who wants a sense of belonging in the world. Malcolm doesn’t want to be friends with Stevie because he understands the way his peers view him. Again, it’s a simple story, but one that’s an issue that still plagues modern school students till this day. The subject matter is handled nicely, though it would’ve been better to see the bully actually crying vs. Malcolm telling us that he did. Does every joke Malcolm in the Middle land? No, but it’s more hit then miss, and even the misses aren’t that big. The writing does a great job of showcasing the family but firmly establishing that the story is about Malcolm.

Everyone gets their moment to shine here, though admittedly, the Francis montage is the funniest thing in the pilot. It’s not just the fact that he’s using the same apology for every one of his mess ups, but how true that moment actually feels. How many of us have a template of the type of apology we used whenever we screwed up? Another great part about Malcolm in the Middle is that it’s not using a laugh track in the series. Laugh tracks often serve as a distraction and can highlight an unfunny joke even more. Plus, it tries to ring emotions that’s often unearned. Malcolm in the Middle was the perfect escape for 30-minutes. The show still works because of how relatable the subject matter is. Thankfully, Linwood Boomer was able to craft something genuinely funny out of life growing up, and Malcolm in the Middle still managed to provide an important message along the way.Malcolm

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