Eden Sher Shines as the Naively Optimistic Sue Heck in The Middle

Jocelyn Kelley December 11, 2013 0

ATTICUS SHAFFER, CHARLIE MCDERMOTT, PATRICIA HEATON, NEIL FLYNN, EDEN SHER

‘Tis the season for some holiday fun on your favorite television shows and tonight “The Middle” is offering a Christmas episode that is sure to go down in history. In “The Christmas Tree” the lovable Sue Heck’s severe allergic reaction to the family’s Christmas tree threatens to ruin her holiday. If you think Sue Heck is one of the most lovable characters on television today, then it will warm your heart to know that the actress behind Ms. Heck is even more delightful.

Watching ABC’s top-rated comedy “The Middle” (Wednesdays, 8:00-8:30p.m., ET) one can’t help but wonder how similar Eden Sher is to her on-air counterpart, Sue
Heck. “I really think it’s a melting pot between me and Sue,” says Sher. “There are certain characteristics that I definitely bring to the character and others that are completely Sue. When I interact with friends they will sometimes say, ‘Oh Eden, that was classic Sue!’ I’m older and more confident than Sue but I think she and I are both naively optimistic. I mean, if someone says to me, did you know that gullible is in the dictionary I will literally go look it up in the dictionary. I believe everything.”

This optimism is refreshing and brings much of the comedic charm to “The Middle.” If Eden and Sue are such a melting pot, does she have any say on Sue Heck’s antics? “I don’t think it’s deliberate. I don’t meet with the writers and suggest things but in terms of building Sue’s characters, it’s more like a cycle of inspiration. I’ll give a performance to a scene in my own style, something that they didn’t expect, and it will evolve from there. They created Sue and I went into the audition so excited, practically yelling, ‘This is such a cool character!’ and I think they have played off that optimism since the beginning.”

With so many shows failing, you can’t help but wonder what is it about “The Middle” that strikes a chord with viewers. Sher has her own theories behind the success of The Middle, “I think it’s just so simple. It’s like having a good, old recipe for a classic chocolate chip cookie and you put all of the ingredients together and they just work and it’s delicious! Sometimes people want to add quinoa or kale to the recipe to make it different or stand out and sometimes crazy doesn’t always work,” Sher explains. “Sometimes it doesn’t taste very good. You also don’t want the store bought cookies because those are mass-produced. I think the show is like that classic recipe where all of the pieces just fit and it just works.”

Tonight’s episode of “The Middle” focuses on Christmas and the unexpected joys and stress that come with the holidays. Holiday themed episodes of popular television shows are often talked about years after. Why are these particular episodes always so memorable? “I think because TV is such a wild thing,” says Sher. “This show is happening in real time. You’re watching these characters experience Christmas right along with you. In the same way, you think back about what you were doing in years past, these characters were doing their own thing year after year to celebrate the season. It’s a really special time and it’s memorable.”

Now in it’s fifth season, we have watched the Heck family grow and evolve. Where will these characters find themselves in ten or fifteen years? “I would really like Sue to be in charge somewhere significant,” says Sher. “She already has taken a position of power with the Wrestlerettes [cheerleading squad for her high school’s wrestling team] but I would love to see her in a real significant position of power. I think Sue would make an amazing high school or middle school guidance counselor. I mean, those years are hard and Sue would be amazingly helpful to kids battling that difficult time.”

Eden Sher is amazing as Sue Heck and she shines in a role she was destined to play. Tune in tonight, Wednesday, December 11, 2013, to watch the Christmas episode of “The Middle” (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET) on ABC Television Network.

“The Middle” stars Patricia Heaton as Frankie, Neil Flynn as Mike, Charlie McDermott as Axl, Eden Sher as Sue and Atticus Shaffer as Brick.

Photo credit (ABC/Michael Ansell)