The Middle 5.23-5.24 Review: “Orlando; The Wonderful World of Hecks”

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Disney World might be an annual vacation to some lucky families, but to the Hecks (and Sue especially) this was a once in a lifetime dream come true!  That’s why the hour long season finale of The Middle was such a treat to the viewers as well.  It’s almost like a right of passage for an ABC family-oriented sitcom to visit a Disney park.

Family road trips with this gang are always eventful to say the least.  Callbacks to the blue snack bag and even the death napkin were hilarious.  The death napkin conversation in particular was classic Heck family discussion.  Since the last time their parents’ will was brought up, Axl has become an official adult meaning in case Frankie and Mike both die, he would automatically be Sue and Brick’s guardian.  He freaks out his younger siblings by telling them how he’d take order of the family in this hypothetical situation.  It all escalates rather quickly, and the only way to calm Sue down is to allow her some driving time.

You have to remember that Sue is a new driver and probably doesn’t have much highway experience.  When she finally does get behind the wheel, she screws up big time in a fast food drive-thru.  Frankie never makes dinner at home, instead always brings home takeout, so I’m surprised Sue hasn’t had some experience navigating through narrow drive-thrus.  Anyway, she dents the driver side door so badly that it can’t even open.  By this point they’re probably still only halfway to Orlando.

Next stop was to visit Brick’s online girlfriend, except he actually forgot to tell his parents he already broke up with her after begging them to take a small detour through North Carolina to meet this girl.  While Brick and the girl go outside of this family’s trailer, the rest of the Hecks and the girl’s parents have an awkward meeting resulting in them being chased out and accused of catfishing a 12 year old girl.  Brick and his girlfriend actually made up and he got his first kiss with both families present to witness it.  Now I’m curious to see if he’ll ever see the girl again next season.

Before they left for this trip, Axl was nervous about his grades being posted online.  He was completely surprised when he ended up getting straight B’s, which in his mind is the best grade and in his case, it’s truly a miracle.  He learned an important lesson that even a little bit of effort put into his work this last semester paid off, but he let it get to his head when he insisted that his parents either A) not talk to him at all or pay him $50 every time they do talk to him, or B) refer to him only as Sir Axl, Duke of Awesomeness.

They finally make it to Disney World after their 20 hour drive, and instead of going to their hotel first, they’re ready to go right into the parks and start their adventure.  The fun really has only just begun at this point.  The girl at the ticket counter points out that their tickets are for Disneyland in California, not Walt Disney World in Florida.  How in the world could they not have noticed such an obvious mistake?  Mike blames Frankie for not reading the tickets, but I think they’re all partially to blame for this one.

A guest services agent naturally accommodates them with tickets to the right parks and a hotel room.  This hotel suite was the highlight of their entire trip, and possibly their lives.  You’d think they just won a million dollars with the way they were in awe of this place.  Something that always amazes me about Phil and Claire’s house on Modern Family is the way their refrigerator looks like another kitchen cabinet.  It may or may not have been intentional to have Frankie be so delighted over this type of fridge in the hotel suite.

Their first day in the Disney parks is mostly time split between the nurses’ station after Sue faints and a merchandise store where Brick finally got his Mickey ears hat.  Brick’s fascination with fonts (or as Frankie says, “the F word”) is another welcome callback to a past episode.  He spent almost 2 hours deliberating over his choice of font for his customized Mickey ears, and the family stayed with him the entire time.  If I was them, I’d have split up instantly and get on some rides.

I can’t forget to mention Sue’s 800 page glittery binder she made as a guide for the parks!  With some of Brad’s tips and tricks to avoiding long ride lines, she concocted a huge binder that she toted around the entire time.  Poor Sue, if only she had a smart phone she’d know there’s an app for that.  Of course, no one in this family can even afford smart phones so they learn from experience on the first day to not necessarily trust Sue’s binder.  

The smartest decision they made was to finally split up on their second day in the parks.  They had already slept away the entire morning when they woke up at 3pm and rushed to check out of the hotel room before they were charged for staying another night.  Mike’s had it with everyone’s constant bickering about who wants to go where, and finally he puts his foot down.  He’s been wanting to go to Epcot, not just for the beer available there, but also to take Frankie to all the countries that he’ll never be able to afford to visit in real life.  Frankie and Mike go on their date to the fake Paris and actually enjoy themselves for once.  Axl, Sue, and Brick first consider going their separate ways but decide to stick together and they also end up having a blast on rides together.

It’s crazy to think they spent more time driving (approximately 40 hours round trip) than they spent in Orlando.  It was never addressed how exactly Ehlert Motors paid for the actual car trip part of the prize, but I’m assuming they gave money for the gas because that would definitely get pricey.

Like so many of us, the Hecks don’t have the luxury of being able to go on grand vacations to Hawaii or Australia like the Pritchetts and Dunphys Modern Family.  I can only hope Sue lucks out and wins another trip somewhere next year.  It was mentioned that they drove out to Hersheypark a few years ago.  It would be awesome if they could film on location there eventually!

What’d you think of this season finale?  Enjoy your summer, and if you do have any family road trips lined up, hopefully nothing will mirror the disasters of the Hecks’ vacation!

[Photo via ABC]

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  • Mark Neese

    Easily the most underrated and underappreciated television show currently on the air. The Middle is the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen of modern American family life, particularly among us hardscrabble Midwesterners.