TV

Malcolm in the Middle Deserves a Second Look


Malcolm in the Middle doesn’t come up in the all-time great sitcoms conversation as much as it should.

Reese (Justin Berfield), Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan), and Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) around the dinner table on Malcolm in the Middle
Photo: Fox

This article contains spoilers for the final episode of Malcolm in the Middle.

Besides animated series, there are very few sitcoms which maintain a consistent level of hilarity with every beat of comic timing. No matter what point you turn on Malcolm in the Middle, any episode, something will make you laugh within 18 seconds. I’m not talking giggles or chuckles, but full-out guffaws that make you miss the next six jokes.

Other shows may be more consistent in overall quality, but none match the stream of funny that comes out of the series created by Linwood Boomer, himself the third of four siblings who was placed in the “gifted” class at school. After graduating, Boomer acted on Little House on the Prairie, another show focusing on a middle child. The semi-autobiographical Malcolm in the Middle doesn’t just call for a second look. It screams for a repeat binge.

Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) is the middle of four brothers: the older Francis (Christopher Masterson) and Reese (Justin Berfield), and the younger Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan). A fifth brother named Jamie is born after season 5, but everyone blames him for the series’ demise. The brothers are consistent and willful troublemakers, who have social disruption down to an art and a science. In this respect, they take after their father, Hal (Bryan Cranston). Their mother, Lois (Jane Kaczmarek), already ground all the rebellion and natural delinquency out of the father, and is now imposing that discipline on her sons. She has plans for them. Malcolm is a reluctant genius, and Hal and Lois consider him the family’s last hope. It doesn’t seem right, but life is unfair.

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