Now into its fifth season, the comedy series The Middle has reached its landmark 100th episode. As the cast celebrated the milestone, they reflected on the show's success.
"I think it's one of the few shows that really feels like it is authentic to what people in the Midwest and Middle America are going through," said Patricia Heaton (Frankie Heck) of the show's success. "...The writers take stories from their lives and from their kids."
While she's settled into her role as matriarch of the Heck family on The Middle, Heaton was previously best known for starring as Ray Romano's wife on the beloved sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which churned out 210 episodes in a nine-season span.
"It kind of crept up on me that we did 100 [episodes] and then I just became aware of 'Oh my gosh! I can't believe I got another show that's going this long!'" said Heaton, who received a star on the Walk of Fame last year. "...It's really hard to get a network show that hits that sweet spot."
The show, narrated by Heaton's character, follows the Hecks, a middle-income family of five living their hectic but average life in a run-of-the-mill town in Indiana.
Heaton's co-stars iterated the show's reliability as the foundation for its success. Although the show got off to a relatively slow start in the ratings race, it has been steadily climbing up the popularity ladder.
"There's some shows that you watch...and it's funny but it's sort of cold, and I...think our show's very warm and reminds people of their own families. To me, that's why I think it's been hugely successful," said executive producer DeAnn Heline.
"It's got some biting comedy; it's got a lot of things you can relate to; and it's got a lot of heart," added executive producer Eileen Heisler. "...Some people have said things like, 'It reminds me of...when I was watching "Happy Days," or the way I felt [watching "Happy Days"].' It's not like 'Happy Days,' but I think if it could be that show that people feel warm and fuzzy about...that's awesome."