‘The Middle’ Showed How To Do A Perfect ‘Coming Out’ Episode

The Middle has never been a flashy show. It’s about a working class Indiana family needing every cent they earn at the quarry, at the car dealership, at the mall food court, to keep the lights on. Think Roseanne, with less sarcasm. ABC has wisely left it alone for seven seasons, and ratings have been remarkably consistent; except for season one, viewership has never been lower than 8.08 million or higher than 8.68 million. Not great, not bad, just Heck.

So leave it to The Middle to do a “coming out” episode that’s perfectly understated. Fans have always known, or at least assumed, that Brad, Sue’s optimistic partner-in-crime (though they’d balk at the word “crime”), is gay. He’s flamboyant, he loves musical theater, he’s a snappy dresser — all the sitcom trademarks. But his homosexuality has never been acknowledged.

I’ve often wondered if this is because God-fearing Sue always knew, but didn’t want to think about it, or if she was waiting for him to say something, or whether she was genuinely clueless that her tap-dancing pal preferred the company of men. Last night, we finally got our answer.

Two friends are sitting in a car. Brad remarks there’s something he’s been wanting to tell Sue. But before he can say anything else, she simply responds, “I know.” Then they hug. That’s it. Here’s Brock Ciarlelli (Brad) on the scene.

There’s obviously the jokes that play out in Brad’s first couple of episodes, where it’s, like, “How does Sue not see this?” But then they took the important part of the character – the friendship between Brad and Sue – and ran with it. They defined Brad as a character via his passions, his interests, his sense of humor, and the kind of friend he is, things that are so much more important than the word “gay” could ever get across, that I didn’t personally need or feel like it was necessary for him to come out. (Via)

Co-creator DeAnn Heline told the Hollywood Reporter, “A big ‘Brad’s coming out’ episode might’ve gotten more publicity and promo and that sort of thing, but it kind of felt cheap to us to do it that way.” Eden Sher, who plays Sue and deserves about 47 Emmys, added, “I was so relieved when [co-creator Eileen Heisler] said it was going to be very, very subtle… It’s sweet without being saccharine.” Just like The Middle.

(Via the Hollywood Reporter)