When the lovable, but dysfunctional Hecks – the family at the heart of the ABC sitcom “The Middle” – decide their pastor’s homilies put them to sleep (literally), they attend a friend’s black gospel church to see what it’s like. They’re immediately blown away by the lively music and general enthusiasm. The preacher then relates a story about visiting a dying congregant and asking him if he fulfilled his purpose in life. “Did you get your business done?” the pastor asked him. The dying man responded, “No.” The pastor then challenges the congregation to “Get your business done” so they don’t wind up on their death beds some day with regrets. The Hecks take this message to heart and embark on some comic misadventures based on they think their “business” is.
Comedy is best experienced, not explained, so I’m embedding the video of the episode below. But I do want to say that “The Middle” (perfectly cast with Emmy Award-winner Patricia Heaton, Mike Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer) is one of the rare shows on TV that manages to have fun with religion and faith without making fun of religion and faith.
At various times through its three seasons, going to church has been shown as being a natural part of the Heck’s lives, just like it is for families throughout this country. They’ve gotten spiritual advice from a guitar-playing youth minister named Rev. Tim Tom, who conveys the answers the Hecks are looking for in a comical, relevant and truthful way. And though the precocious, youngest child, Brick, asks a lot of questions because the Bible doesn’t always make sense to him (“Why turn water into wine in a desert environment? Water hydrates; wine dehydrates. That’s just not smart), his quest for faith is sincere.
I’ve enjoyed “The Middle” since it premiered in 2009 for the way it combines laughs, heart and edginess. The fact that they include religion in the mix once in a while is an added bonus. Enjoy!