The Middle 5.12 Review: “The Carpool”

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What do an astronomy class, a carpool, and a basketball game have in common? They all taught the Hecks important life lessons in this episode of The Middle.

Back at college for the new semester and desperate to meet girls, Axl gets mistaken for being in an astronomy class and goes along with it when a girl invites him to a study group. An idiotic question like “that is the planet one and not the horoscope one, right?” was typical Axl, but I was surprised at the outcome of these latest shenanigans. He pushed himself to actually study for this class, while temporarily neglecting his registered classes. When the truth came out, he still ended up taking an important skill away from all this. He now knows how to study for his proper classes. Sometimes I worry about this kid, but he’s smarter than he appears to be at times.

Frankie and other parents at Brick’s middle school form carpool groups while the bus drivers are out on strike. Frankie joins the group with her neighbor Nancy Donohue and another father, but of course Frankie is the one who continuously runs late on her days to drive and pick up the kids. She gives a million excuses, almost all of which are that she stayed up late watching TV. Who among us can’t relate to that? Finally, she learns a hilarious but true life lesson that “if you’re bad enough at something, they’ll ask you not to do it anymore.”

A pair of floor level seats to a college basketball game sparks an interesting debate between Frankie and Mike. He ended up taking a friend to the game with him, when Sue so obviously wanted to go. A guy like Mike assumes that girls just aren’t into sports as much as boys are. Frankie’s offended because even her dad brought her and her sister to all kinds of games when they were growing up. Mike raises a point in his defense that Frankie never took Axl to a play or ice capades because that’s just something she (however rightly) assumed that he wouldn’t be interested in. Ultimately Frankie wins this fight by emphasizing that Mike barely even knows anything about Sue anymore. He doesn’t know where she works or what she does in her after school clubs. We even saw he ignored her every time he would talk about not being able to find anyone to go to the game with him.

It has been a while since we’ve seen Mike and Sue spend any quality time together. One time when he caught on that her friends were all having a sleepover without inviting Sue (and had the audacity to borrow a sleeping bag from her), he kept her distracted and watched the Twilight movies with her. Another year Sue even made a scrapbook from her “summer of Sue and Dad” which is exactly what it sounds like. Sue is a daddy’s girl through and through, so it was cute to see them go out to bond over burgers. It struck me, and probably Mike too, that Sue is really growing up as she’s started thinking of college already. Let’s hope we get to see more of these precious bonding moments between the two before Sue does eventually go off to college in another year and a half.

[Photo via Richard Cartwright  /ABC]

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