First off, before I get into who Brick Heck is (yes Heck is his last name, you heard that right), I first want to explain the premise of The Middle to those who may not watch it or have even heard of it. The Middle is a family sitcom that airs (it may be coming or has already went off the air finally) on ABC and premiered in 2009. The show takes place in the Midwestern United States and is set in a very small, primitive suburb that consists mainly of people who represent a watered down and friendlier version of what liberals think midwesterners are like if you catch my drift. The family that the show is centered on (The Hecks) consists of two heterosexual parents, an older brother (the jock), a middle sister (the misunderstood/clueless geek), and last but not least, Brick Heck, who is the younger brother that is on the spectrum, loves books, hates socializing and is stigmatized everyday by his parents, siblings, classmates, teachers and neighbors.
He has quirks that are used in the show as comedic shticks, such as him ending a sentence with a big word and then following the sentence up by whispering the word/phrase loud and clear (while also looking down at the floor). He has his head buried into a book at just about every chance he gets. And he connects more with adults than kids his own age because he sees them as inferior beings that are too immature and simple-minded for him.
If you thought what I said in the previous post about Sheldon Cooper was a reaction to harsh stereotypes, Brick takes the stigma even further to the point of infuriating my viewing demographic.
First off, I told you that he is ridiculed by practically everybody in the show. His stereotypical behavior patterns have no moral ground like Sheldon does every now and then. He is 9 times out of 10 the character that the writers assume nobody in their audience identifies with.
But it’s really the way the society in his neighborhood and his family treats him that makes this show very cringe-worthy. Here are two examples that often occur in various parts of the series…
1. Brick’s Dad (Mike Heck) is a loving father. However, as is evident by his bedroom venting with his wife at night, Mike wishes Brick was normal and rather than reading books, played sports and was obsessed with that instead, just like his older brother. Mike time and time again forces Brick to go outdoors to play basketball in the driveway or will yell at Brick at his brother’s basketball game to put down the book and pay attention to what everyone else is watching, because he might “learn something”.
2. Brick’s elementary school is very backwards in the first few seasons. His homeroom teacher sees Brick as disruptive for non-disruptive reasons. She calls the parents in to meet with her privately. It is here that she stresses that Brick does not interact with the other students, does not have friends, and does not fit the status quo of their school. So she forces the parents to pay for a very awkward guidance counselor to “fix” Brick and make him make friends. The counselor isn’t exactly “normal” himself and makes Brick read a script with him to practice “breaking the ice” with his fellow students. The script reads something like this:
“Hey Dude, what is up bro?”
“Nothin. Just chillin”
“Hey nice eye contact man. I like your style”…
Anyway, as someone that was in pragmatics classes during middle school, I completely feel for Brick in these school scenes.
So as I give you a basic summary of this young, bright and unconventional character, I have this to say to the other characters in the show (and the writers)…
“LEAVE BRICK ALONE!!! He is a human!!” Okay yes, I had to reference the Leave Britney Alone video. But you could apply that to anyone. Look at Kanye. But I digress…
Even if The Middle treated Brick’s character more like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, that, as you know, isn’t saying much. Characters can be just as funny with moral support from other characters and with the freedom to evolve on one’s own. It isn’t a sentimental show, but what I just described isn’t even sentimental. It’s just treating all the characters with equal respect and not giving an exception to the “special kid” who no one minds picking on. If Brick was a villain character and the show was a crime thriller, than I would understand. But this is a family sitcom. And what Brick has is not make believe, it is real and capitalizing on it just for cheap laughs is bigotry in my book.
To all of this I say #StampOutStigma and do not watch The Middle if you read this blog and understand where I am coming from.
ABC also aired Last Man Standing. Need I say more?