I’m going to apologize to my loyal readers because from what I know of most of you, this entry and ship may be of limited interest. But I’ve never been able to go on anything but inspiration and I’m inspired by these two.Yes, them.
I owe a big thanks to my anonymous commenter – thanks, Anon! (you guys should leave names so I can give you proper shout outs!) – for introducing me to Axl and Sue from The Middle. Among a list of ships I shared with her, she listed this one that I was unfamiliar with, and I was immediately intrigued.I could have come up with a catchier title that would make people feel like they ought to click on the story – like “You will die if you don’t watch this show” – but that makes me feel dirty. I’ll only stoop as low as putting hot or shirtless in my image names.
First of all: good news and bad news. The good news is that tumblr has upped its GIF size limit from 500kb to 1mb. This means larger, longer, and prettier GIFs. If I was better at making them, I’m sure I could do some impressive stuff with that number of bytes. As it is, mine are still mediocre at best. Just a note: most of the GIFs and screenshots on here are mine, but not all. I didn’t credit properly because I’m lazy. I apologize. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I made the GIFs that I didn’t make. But I think it’ll be clear which ones are mine because they’ll suck and look similar.
The bad news is that I was not working with HD copies of these episodes, so the screenshots and GIFs are not going to be as sharp as I would like.
More housekeeping: I realize these posts are very long, and full of images that take a lot of time to load. I would split them up a bit more, but it is so much easier for viewership count and organizational reasons to keep each subject/project in one post when at all possible. So I changed my settings so that my homepage only shows two posts at a time instead of five. This should aid a bit in loading. Again, I apologize, particularly if you have a slower connection.
My mother watches Modern Family on Wednesday nights on ABC and The Middle is part of that line-up, but she’s never thought too highly of it (for whatever reason – her judgment can be capricious and poisoned), and I just went with that. So I had heard of the show, but I’d never really seen it. I should have known better, really, because I would be lost without my mother, but we don’t watch TV in the same way and certainly don’t appreciate the same television-related things. And about this I don’t think we have a difference of opinion, I think she’s actually flat out wrong, because The Middle is just delightful.
I only had the impression that the dad was that janitor guy from Scrubs (a show I personally never cared for, so that turned me off a little) (his name is Neil Flynn, by the way), the mom was the wife from Everybody Loves Raymond (I knew her name was Patricia Heaton, but that didn’t change how I identified her, and again, not a show that was in my heart), they had an awkward little boy who seemed very familiar (Brick), and an awkward older daughter (that would be Sue).I didn’t even know about Axl!
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode that I saw from start to finish. I’m not likely walk away from a comedy angry that I wasted my time on it because even the worst of ones are good for a laugh or two, but this one just had so many good qualities. Not just the humor, but the quirky characters, and the realism. But almost every TV show has at least something going for it – not even I can watch every.single.show that is good or has something good in it. So really, I can’t feel too bad about having missed it until this point. I’m just glad I finally discovered it, because Axl and Sue are a pretty fun ship, and I like it even more than Modern Family, even without considering Axl and Sue.
I’m not the type to start in the middle (pun!). I always try and go back to the very beginning when it’s possible. And since The Middle is only midway through its third season, that seemed very possible, especially for a show with episodes that are only going to be 20 minutes without commercials. So I sought out the first season.
By the way, I have links for you if you’d like to maybe go about seeing this show or some of its episodes.
I wanted to get a jumpstart on this entry, so I began writing while only two episodes in, but I have since finished the entire series (it’s in progress, though, with new episodes on Wednesdays), and have gone through and edited and elaborated a bit what I had already written.
The Middle is a sitcom that really isn’t too special in any particular way. I perhaps mentioned that I just adore Raising Hope, and there isn’t much distinction to be made between the two except in superficial ways – they’re both comedies about poor families with a lot of heart and great characters.
But for our purposes here, The Middle is vastly superior, because it actually has a brother and a sister. And ones worth shipping!
It centers around the Heck family (unfortunate last name for a child, I’m sure): father Mike,mother Frances (usually Frankie),eldest son Axl (15 when the show begins),daughter Sue (13 when the show begins, in a middle school with far more activities than mine ever had),and youngest son Brick (8, but short and lispy so it’s hard to tell – and the actor is a few years older than that).There is also Frankie’s coworker Bob (played by Chris Kattan of Saturday Night Live!) who is awkward and lonely.You can tell right from that information that we’ve scored: brother and sister, two years apart, and both teenagers.
I mean, you can’t really ask for much more than that.
Now, 13 is still pretty young. In my first iCarly entry I went into a whole thing about 13 year-olds, but seeing as how Axl is only two years older – only 15 – I don’t really see that as necessary. And I only mention it because I’m sure some people would feel a little uncomfortable about shipping “children” (something I didn’t really go into much in my Phineas and Ferb entry although it applied there more than anywhere else), but the way I see it, a 13 year-old isn’t really a child, and even so, and even if we were talking about someone younger, shipping doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to get it on right then, and you might just as easily be envisioning the future rather than the present. And they do get older during the course of the show. And because it’s incest, the younger they are the more troubling it is. But when you think about what they could be doing with boyfriends and girlfriends from school and how far they could go at whatever age before you would consider it too far, I think there is a bit of a discrepancy.
One of the first things I loved about The Middle is how un-extraordinary the characters are. I don’t even mean ordinary, I mean even less than ordinary.The children are all average-looking (though they have pleasing faces in their way, I would not call any one of them particularly attractive – and it’s hurt me to say even that, but I am making a point), which, for a TV show, is remarkable. Sue and Brick aren’t just quirky – they’re downright weirdos (of course I mean that affectionately).
Sue and Axl aren’t the sharpest knives in the cutlery block, if you know what I mean. (Sue even less so, the dear. Axl can pull it together in surprising ways when something’s really on the line. Sometimes.)
Frankie is amazingly resourceful, but most of her endeavors fail and she’s on the verge of being fired at her job for just not being very good at it (something that appeals to me, as I’m feeling particularly un-hirable at the moment). And Mike – I love Mike – is sometimes just too honest for his own good. He loves his children, but he doesn’t pretend to like them or support them any more than absolutely necessary. He doesn’t like to smile too much, or interact with people too much. He likes his alone time.
And I love how poor they are. They’re not suffering, but they have to budget, and it’s nice to see that. I come from an extremely well-educated family, and well-established in our region having been here for generations, but despite that we’ve never had the disposable income for luxury. So I can relate to a lot of the compromises and concerns that the Hecks have.
And I love how they bring home fast food and say that they cooked. And how often they eat fast food. I mean, it’s not a good thing. But when both parents work, and there are three kids, you just don’t have the time to cook. And they all eat in front of the TV, and just have mini conversations during the commercials. I mean – it’s just so real. It’s not always the prettiest picture, but it’s candid.
The title of the show is a reference to the fact that they live in Indiana (a medium-sized town called Orson) – the place you pass over in your airplane while going to somewhere else, the place you won’t even bother to look down at. I love shows that don’t take place in California or New York/Boston/Wasington D.C. I mean, I live on the West Coast, but I do like that picturesque home-grown Midwest fantasy. I think it’s sad that most movies that take place there are about people wanting to leave it. My father was from the Midwest. Of course he left it. *LOL*
I don’t think I could ever live in the Midwest because I have a great love affair with the ocean and really couldn’t be parted from her. Maybe the Great Lakes area?
I also like how much this show picks on its characters. They’re weak. Selfish. They fail. They’re stupid sometimes. They’re weird. I love it.
I’m so glad I’m doing this entry, even if only a handful of people even land on this page, because this show is truly underappreciated.
I wonder if it might have something to do with their living room. It’s green, but like a hideous 70’s sort of lime green. And nicer furniture might even be able to make that work, but they’ve got a brown couch. And what’s worse is the blankets on the couch. They don’t match, and they’re VERY dated and just ugly. It seems silly to not watch a show because of the decor of one of the rooms, but I almost think I’d change the channel the second I saw it, and a lot of scenes take place in that room.
And I can’t not compliment The Middle‘s continuity, because I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with continuity in my entire life. I love continuity, so I’m sure I’m appreciating it more than anyone else is, but it’s truly remarkable how true this show stays to its past episodes, and how past events and characters are not forgotten. From Brick’s teacher Miss Rinksi, to the bad neighborhood family the Glossners, to the carpet remnant in Mike and Frankie’s room – it stays with us. It’s like real life! Stuff that in any lesser TV show would just be a one-off for the episode get mentioned and referenced repeatedly on The Middle. I can hardly say anything better about a show than say I admire its continuity.
So, about Axl and Sue in particular:
Axl is a bit more of an average teenage boy than Sue is an average teenage girl. He’s probably a C student (when he’s trying), he stays in his room most of the time (a filthy place), wears only his boxers around the house when at all possible (even in the middle of winter), speaks fluent sarcasm, calls everything lame, complains about everything, blames everything on everyone else, picks on his siblings, and seems to be something of a ladykiller (though he sometimes fails at getting the girls he goes after, he doesn’t have a problem getting girls in general – and I don’t have perfect recall, but I swear they have all been blondes). He plays football and basketball. The popular jock type, especially if his friends are anything to go by. He works sometimes, when he feels like it. Some things come very easy to him. It’s a stimulating contrast with Sue, who tries so hard and hardly ever gets anything.
So yes, Sue is the opposite. Can I just say that I LOVE Sue. I think she’s joining Carly on my list of favorite female characters. She’s got braces (an overbite crossbite, which means she’ll have them for a while) and she’s got glasses. She has this unconquerable optimism – a lust for life really that nothing can put down. Her main characteristic is that she’s constantly trying out for things – swim team, show choir, etc. – and she never makes any of them because she has no discernible talent. She’s truly horrible – and often enough it ends in injury or fire. But it never gets her down. The next day she’s always ready to try out for something else. When she was a 34th alternate for the swim team she was happy about it – excited. She also seems to be pretty invisible. Her teachers don’t even remember her. No one knows her name. I just think she’s lovely and I admire her so much. She almost never has a negative attitude. And when she is upset by something, she usually finds a way to turn it upside down into something good. (That can be a dangerous, but I think it’s better to be able to do it than to not be able to do it. I know, because I’m the same way. I’m very good at it.) And she loves her family very much. When Frankie takes off for an episode to get a break, Sue goes on and on about how much she loves her, and how she lies to her friends and says she fights with her but really she loves her more than ever. And she listens intently to all of her great aunt’s stories with a big, genuine smile on her face. I mean, she’s just such a sweetheart.
She is a little stupid, but mostly, I think, because she’s a caricature. When she doesn’t sense the sarcasm or negativity around her, it makes her look stupid, but it’s really because of how buoyant she is. And her naïveté and gullibility is charming, even if sometimes you want to give her a good common-sense slap.
I’m some kind of impossible combination of Sue and Mike, I think. I’m an impossibly contradictory person.
I’m going to thank my Anon again, because it’s not just that it’s great having another show to watch and another ship to ship, but because I have been, in particular, desperately in need of a ship just like this. I tend to lean towards the brother being the loser, the sister being the promiscuous, popular one. For me, that’s easier to imagine. It’s easier to imagine them finally getting together. I’ve always had trouble with the opposite – where the brother is the popular one with girls falling over him, and the sister is awkward and unpopular. I think it’s a bigger leap, probably because of double standards in our society. Or maybe it’s just my own skewed perception.
But not with Axl and Sue. Sue manages to be beautiful without being beautiful. (I think we can be honest here. She’s not pretty.) And I can see someone cruel and cynical like Axl being worn down by Sue’s optimism and kindness until he just couldn’t imagine loving anyone else but her. Until everyone but her felt cold and wrong. They almost mirror their parents. Frankie isn’t Sue and Mike isn’t Axl, and yet in some ways I think they’re just jumbles of the same traits. I think Axl and Sue would be really good for each other.
I have my romantic philosophy of compatible opposites – and I think they fit the bill perfectly. They complement each other in just the right way. They could give each other doses of just what they need, tempering each others’ extremes.
I’m hoping that because they’re so young, and because this is a sitcom, that we won’t have to deal with any lasting love interests for either of them.
Axl fell pretty hard for a girl named Morgan, who was around for more than one episode. It was a little troubling how much he cared for her, and how perfect she seemed at first. But she had a dark side. And even though Axl didn’t really care about that, he did move on rather quickly…twice. Other than that, he’s had a bit of Spencer Shay syndrome: new episode, new girl – most of them crazy for some reason. He spends the episode trying to get them, but by the end comedic circumstances have driven them apart forever.
Sue had a boyfriend for a while, though he was clearly gay. She sat next to a boy on a hayride on Halloween who just asked her if she wanted to make out. (I could have used a boy like that in middle school). He moved to her school in a later episode, but they didn’t get together. Other than that she has been pretty hard up, at least until the most recent episode in which a kid on the wrestling team (Sue is a wrestlerette, the head cheerleader for the wrestling team) developed a crush on her, and had the whole wrestling team do a little dance and chant so that she would go out with him. It was super sweet. I’m a little concerned because it’s hard to see this ending badly, but I don’t know. Fun fact: her new love interest is played by the actor (Moises Arias) who was Rico on Hannah Montana and Max’s Conscience on Wizards of Waverly Place – and Sue has mentioned both shows!
The show is primarily about the mother. Frankie is our narrator, and she’s in most of the scenes. It’s much more about her, how she relates to the members of her family, and how she runs the family. How her family reflects on her. So actual interaction between Axl and Sue is limited. Most of my shipping thoughts are purely theoretical – personality based. But I don’t mind that. I’ve shipped people who’ve never even met before, and you’d be surprised how often that works out. So I don’t mind, because I am so happy with this ship!
Axl Heck is played by Charlie McDermott, who was born in 1990. So that makes him almost 22 as I’m writing this. He’s basically five years older than his character. I kind of figured that, because over the three years of the show, Axl never looked like he was getting any older, and in high school you can usually tell that a guy is getting older. There’s usually a growth spurt.
Sue Heck is played by Eden Sher, who was born in December of 1991. So she’s 20. An appropriate 18 months younger than Charlie McDermott, but a surprising five years older than her character. I mean, it’s one thing to have a 23 year-old playing an 18 year-old, but quite another to have an 18 year-old playing a 13 year-old, right? Anyway, that’s some shipping relief, because whether Sue and Axl are of age, they look like they are because the actors who play them are. Good enough for me.
Proof:There are people out there who ship Charlie and Eden, no doubt. In fact, I’ve already seen one by chance. A lot of times, someone will find themselves inclined towards an incest ship, and just tell themselves it’s chemistry between the actors. Granted, that’s probably almost always true. But go ahead, just give in! Just ship the characters. You know you want to.
(Mwahahahahaha. I already know, there’s no going back.)
The idea that the actors who play the characters you ship might get together is a totally understandable desire – it’s like vindication of your ship. Your ship is the right ship because the actors are together too.
And you want the chemistry in your pairing to play out forever in real life. Understandable. I’m always tickled by the idea, though in some cases more than others. I try to keep that to myself, though, because then I think of the actors reading something like what I might write, and how awkward it would be for them (or their respective spouses), and I would hate to be the one that made them feel like that. I try to make the world a better place for the people in it.
But I won’t say that I don’t ship Charlie and Eden in that silly shipper way, and I might make an extremely awkward comment or two. But what I actually set out to say in the paragraph before this one is that I haven’t really watched or read any interviews, or followed their twitters, or anything like that – I grow very tired very quickly of those sorts of things – I don’t watch them for even my favorite actors or favorite shows. Sometimes I just think ignorance is bliss. So clearly my shipping is based on exactly nothing.
But I’m not alone:
I find it unlikely that they’re dating or that they ever will, and not just because they play siblings. Charlie could probably get just about any girl he wanted. Probably not so much Eden. And it’s not anything to do with their actual looks, even, it’s the characters they play. Axl is sexy.
There have been a lot of…uninteresting photos put on Twitter, clearly taken by someone either bored out of their mind or quite taken with the subject: (I love that Eden’s phone is pink. I wonder if she’s got a bit of Sue in her.)
And then there’s this incredibly awkward photo of Charlie McDermott with a person I believe to be Shelby Young, and as far as I know they’re dating, and Eden is just standing off to the side not quite smiling. I’m embarrassed for them. Embarrassed this photo is publicly available. But it was just too pertinent not to publish. I mean it’s probably nothing. Everybody takes awkward photos. But…well, JUST LOOK AT IT.
Speaking of taking awkward photos, how about a spam of pocket Charlie:I love this picture:I wonder if it was taken by Atticus Shaffer (Brick). Eden is being all Sue-like and smiling and loving it, and Charlie’s just like a grumpy dad, all “who gave that child a phone? I don’t want to be in a picture.”
Atticus Shaffer plays Brick Heck. He was born in 1998. So he’s 13 right now (and making me feel very old because how could someone born then be 13 already!!!!), three years older than Brick. But that’s a pretty significant three years, because I feel like there’s a big difference between 13 and 10. Anyway, just a tidbit for you.
I’m just going to reiterate (so that there are no misunderstandings) that when I say I ship Axl and Sue, it’s not because the show is telling me that they want to or should be together, it’s because I, myself, and me think that would be pretty darn great. I’ve discussed a lot of different pairings on this blog, some of them canon and some of them not. But most of them had some scenes or have been put in situations that would raise some eyebrows. Not Axl and Sue. These two have nothing going for them. There’s almost nothing to squee over.
They are written as a typical brother and sister who relate to each other in a typical way and interact in a typical way and EVERYTHING IS TYPICAL. He doesn’t dream about her in his bed having sex with his best friend (Tony and Effy, Skins), and she doesn’t get possessed by her best friend who flirts with him while in her body (Justin and Alex, Wizards of Waverly Place), and they don’t star as love interests in the school play (Ryan and Sharpay, High School Musical). THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THAT HERE.
So you shove those hopes right back down to default height.
Like I was saying, I doubt anyone who doesn’t already have an incest-shipping tendency is going to be “turned” by Axl and Sue. Unlike Jaime and Cersei, Cesare and Lucrezia, Justin and Alex, or the Pevensie siblings, this is not (what I refer to as) a gateway incest ship.
But it’s still a great ship!
Just look at this scene of Sue trying out new glasses and Axl giving his opinion:
Or this one of Sue being nervous while she waits to hear whether she made cheerleading or not:
I was going to make a comparison to some of the great romantic comedies of our age – the cool, popular guy falls the awkward, geeky girl.
I’m coming up short.
Sixteen Candles and Mean Girls just don’t count.
There was that little storyline in The Faculty beween Clea DuVall’s Stokes and Shawn Hatosy’s Stan.
There’s always Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World. I used to watch it after school like everyone else, but I don’t remember it too well. I’m not sure Cory was exactly captain of the football team, but Topanga was definitely a Sue Heck.
I feel like something must have happened on Glee, but it’s not clicking into the formula quite right. Rachel and Finn almost fit the bill, but Finn losered himself down a little, and Rachel was never Sue Heckish enough. Mercedes was never anything like Sue, but she was unpopular and did get to go out with Sam and Puck. And there was that other girl that Puck dated, but again, not quite a Sue.
I was going to be all like “See all these great love stories that are just like Axl and Sue but not with siblings”. And look at all the squat I came up with.
It’s an underexplored formula, apparently.
Usually the awkward geeky girls find awkward geeky guys. It’s the awkward, geeky guys that date up with the hot, popular chicks.
I did want to do a comparison with the most similar incest ships that I have.
Louis and Ren from Even Stevens came fairly quickly to mind. Ren isn’t quite like Sue – she’s very successful. In fact, success might be what defines her most. She’s active and involved. But Louis is very similar to Axl. And the way they relate to each other is very similar – the dynamic. I’m pulling out some of my old Louis/Ren shipping fantasies and using them with Axl and Sue and they are workin’ REALLY WELL.
The other comparison that came fairly quickly to mind is Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons. I have loved The Simpsons since I was pretty little. My Mom says she wouldn’t let us watch it, but either that’s a lie or we outsmarted her because I remember watching it a lot. It’s been on since I was 2. It’s like another member of the family!
I think The Simpsons kind of gets looked down on. Like Raising Hope and The Middle, it’s a comedy about a lower middle class family with quirky characters in a quirky average (or not) American medium-sized town. But The Simpsons has a lot more heart than it ever gets credit for, and it’s often quite clever in its commentary on society and American life. (I’m not saying it’s always smart.)
Now, we’re back talking about the children thing, because Lisa is 8 and Bart is 10. They have been that age for 23 years, but that is how old they are. Except not really. I mean, they sometimes act their age – Bart skateboards, Lisa plays jump rope, Bart hangs out in his tree house, Lisa wants a pony for Christmas, Bart plays pranks, Lisa reads about unicorns. But more often than not, they have the vocabulary, common sense, intelligence, and knowledge of the world of an adult. A smart adult. They’re both smarter than their parents. Not always more responsible, but it depends on the episode. That’s another thing about The Simpsons – with 23 seasons of 22 or more episodes, you can bet that just about everything has happened.
I won’t talk about Bart and Lisa too much, because some day I’ll do an entry on them. There have just been way way way too many ship teases to pass on that.
Back to the comparison: Bart is rather Axl-like, and while Lisa may be a lot more self-aware than Sue, their situation is similar enough. And once again, the dynamic matches almost perfectly. Especially the way that Bart/Axl will be mean to Lisa/Sue for most of the episode, and then have a crisis of heart and come through for her in the end.
So I am going to go into a bit more detail about certain Axl/Sue interactions, but just to give you a picture of what their relationship is like, and what they are like individually, and why I ship them. This is NOT an attempt to prove to you that they are in love with each other.
I feel like I don’t say that enough in these entries about non-canon sibling pairs.
Well, things start off slowly. The first major moment between the two of them comes in 1.05 The Block Party. Axl’s football team gets new jerseys, and it’s a pretty big deal who they give their old jerseys to. Frankie attends the ceremony, and assumes she’s going to get Axl’s jersey, because most of the other boys gave theirs to their mothers. But Axl gives it to a girl he’s pursuing. Frankie is extremely hurt and disappointed.
Frankie kind of has a crush on Axl. I mean, I’m joking of course, but she can be possessive, and shy and flirty and whatever you can name. She wants that jersey so bad.
She finds out later that the girl doesn’t even like Axl back, and she goes to demand the jersey back so she can have it for herself, only to learn that Axl has given it to someone else. Frankie is furious, and gives Axl an earful until Sue wanders outside wearing it. Of course, Frankie is quite pleased about that.Axl is so embarrassed! He’s very sheepish about showing emotion or sentiment of any kind.Sue had tried out to be ball girl for the tennis team in this episode, and didn’t make it. Wound up injured, if I remember correctly. She tells their mother that Axl gave it to her because he felt bad she didn’t make it as ball girl.Frankie gushes all over him.This is sort of appropriate, because there was some discussion of sisters wearing brothers’ clothing in my last entry, the one on The Fades, particularly in the comments section.
It’s mostly just an “awwww” moment.
It’s not like Axl was out of girls to give his jersey to, and there was still his mother (which, like I mentioned, is what most of his teammates did). But he gave it to Sue. And I’m surprised, in a way, that he did, because Sue would be the type to love it and appreciate it and WEAR IT ALL THE TIME. Unfortunately, we don’t get much continuity with this particular incident.
And it’s not like Sue not making ball girl was a big deal. I am not joking when I say that she tries out for something almost every episode.
It’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get to see the scene where he did it, but that’s necessary for Frankie’s embarrassing surprise reveal.
In episode 1.07 The Scratch, little Brick is accidentally hurt while the family cleans up the house, and when he talks about the incident at school, his ignorant language makes it sound like he’s beaten at home. A social worker has to come do an evaluation, and while sweet Sue is absolutely terrified that they’ll be split up, Axl has a bit of fun imagining possible foster situations. He starts out thinking about a pool, but he asks the social worker if there were any families available with cute teenage girls, because they wouldn’t be considered his sisters, right?
He’s obviously already got some fantasies going about him in a living situation with the girl he wants. I mean, the more he indulges this hot foster sister fantasy, the more he’s going to become adjusted to the idea of every day homebound situations leading to sexual situations.
And notice he says “cute”, and not “hot”. I would have expected hot to come out of his mouth. Actually, it’s what I typed before I went back and re-listened to the line to check for accuracy.
Also, notice the emphasis on classification and definitions. His concern is that these hypothetical cute foster sisters “wouldn’t be considered my sisters”.
It doesn’t matter if they are sisters or not, it matters to him what other people think. That’s essentially what he’s saying. That’s what’s in the dialogue. Obviously, I’m going to go much further with this than what’s actually there, but one could extrapolate that Axl’s understanding of what’s forbidden about incest is largely cerebral. It’s wrong not because of what he wants or how he feels about it, it’s wrong because it’s classified as wrong, because he is defined as brother and she is defined as sister and that sort of relation between two suchly classified is classified as wrong.
That was fun.
Those poor writers. They put in some quick line, just trying to keep Axl adhered to the personality traits that define him (it’s only seven episodes in, after all), and I do THAT.
I did want to say, on a slightly related note, that The Middle manages to stay very family friendly without compromising reality. In one scene, Axl says to his father (Brick’s there too, I forget what the conversation is) that all he could think about was driving (he was studying for his license) and sex. Then he changes it to driving and grades with a cough. Sex is all teenagers think about, if I was anything to go by. Remember that quote by Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer? “I’m 17; looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex.” Anyway, if you’re going to have a realistic depiction of a teenage male on your screen, he is going to have to be preoccupied by sex. So they show that, but it’s not constantly shoved down our throats either. Just a nice reminder here and there that his motivation is compromised by hormones.
I don’t even know really why I brought up that scene, it was just a little stark, I guess. It struck me. Maybe I just liked hearing Axl say sex.
Axl is most likely to act as if he doesn’t have a heart. Even more so than Bart Simpson, honestly. But that just makes Axl’s emotional and loving moments all the sweeter.
In episode 1.08 Thanksgiving, Frankie is very busy, so she tells Axl to take Brick to the corn maze that Brick had been wanting to go to. Axl turns his head to wink at a girl passing by while they’re in the maze, and when he looks back Brick is gone. He searches desperately for his little brother, and is so excited when he finds him again. He says, while hugging Brick tightly, “I’m never letting you out of my sight again. Never ever ever never ever again.” (You can imagine how long that lasted. But for one moment in time he absolutely meant it.) And Charlie McDermott, I can’t even explain how, makes it so clear that Axl was actually worried about Brick, and wasn’t just worried about getting in trouble or having lost the person he was in charge of.When they get back home, Brick is telling their Dad that Axl hugged him, and Axl totally shrugs it off like he doesn’t care, but then as he and Brick are walking away he leans over and whispers to Brick really quickly, “I love you, I love you so much.” It’s just the sweetest thing in the world.
Episode 1.09 Siblings, is delightfully titled and themed. When Frankie sees how well the Donahue children get along, she is distressed to return home only to see Axl, Sue, and Brick alternately fighting and completely ignoring each other.
She wonders if it’s because Axl and Sue have nothing in common. This is reflected upon by a scene in which Sue describes how she’s going to try out for wrestlerettes, while Axl, in the background, mimics killing himself in at least five different ways.
I think, depending upon what kind of relationship you want to have with your spouse, it varies how important having things in common is. I think I could share a functional and rewarding relationship with a man and spend only a moderate amount of time with him. But for most people, having stuff in common is really important because that’s what you’re going to do together. It’s going to decide how much time you spend together, and how much you’re going to enjoy that time.
But here’s the thing about Axl and Sue:
1) Sue has tried out for almost everything. So, basically, Sue can accommodate almost every interest.
2) No girl is going to have anything in common with Axl.Frankie institutes a few measures in order to try and get the kids to get along better. First thing she does is forces a family dinner at the table. She has each person turn to the person to their left and say something nice to them.
At another point in a different episode she says, “Axl pick up your sister.” She means in a car, of course.
It reminded me of a scene from Arrested Development: George Michael has a crush on his cousin Maeby, and they’re sent to work together in the family’s boardwalk frozen banana stand. George Michael is the one with the experience there, and his father tells him to not be afraid to “ride her, hard.” And his eyes just go wide. Of course, his father just meant that he should be a demanding manager, but it’s hilarious.
I won’t point out that it’s interesting he chose to compliment her looks. Oops, just did.
So, obviously there are people this isn’t true for, but nevertheless, not an outstanding flattery. However, Sue is extremely pleased.Now, Sue probably isn’t paid a lot of compliments. And she’s even the type to naively take a criticism for a compliment. But even so, she pretty much gushes over this, even though she knows that their mother made him do it.
She says, “Really? You’re not just saying that?”
I won’t point out that now he’s actually discussing her body. Granted, he’s saying it’s bad, but it’s not like anything he’s saying is going to be true anyway. He insults his sister. That’s their relationship.
Sue tells him to shut up, so girl can stand up for herself when she wants. I’ve seen Sue stand her ground, against the cheerleaders who accidentally told her she on the squad, against the teacher who didn’t have her on the list for the trip, against the cross country coach, and in her quest to prove she had perfect attendance. But even in those cases, she was very much in the right and wasn’t asking much of the parties in question. In a spousal relationship, she would need to be able to make a much firmer stand, and she can already do that with Axl.
Frankie is frustrated, and chides, “You two are brother and sister and you’re not even trying! This is the only relationship that is going to last your whole life.”
It reminded me a lot of Fiona’s oft-quoted (by me) adage: “Boyfriends are temporary. Brothers are forever.”
And when Fiona said that, she meant it with a little wink, wink.
Even though Axl is two years older than Sue, he’s not going to remember those two years. So she has been around since his first memory, and the same is true for her as well. That’s a very powerful thing.
And I’m sure Frankie very much wants her children to find “true” love and get married and be successful in that, but I don’t think she’s counting on it for any of them.
“Someday your dad and I aren’t going to be around anymore, and you’re only going to have each other,” Frankie continues.
“Only going to have each other.”
“I don’t want to play with her,” Axl complains.
I kind of feel like five people can’t play a very good game of football, but apparently that’s not true.
Axl, Sue, and Brick work together so well as a team, with their fake-outs, and maneuvers. And Axl throws the ball to Sue, and she catches it! I mean, I doubt Sue has caught very many balls in her life. She couldn’t even make ball girl, and you don’t even have to catch those balls, just chase them down.
Couldn’t wait to get his hands on her.
I mean, just look at that!
The parents tire of this quickly, understandably, but how great is it that Sue, Brick, and Axl had so much fun that first night, and the night after, and the night after, that they want to keep doing it? I mean, they won, so I’m sure beating their parents adds that extra thrill, but what I see here is that they just had to find the right thing to do together.
And it seems unfairly balanced, but the real key was finding something that Axl liked to do. Axl likes football. They have fun playing football together. It’s a simple, if unfair, equation.
But also look at this: Sue isn’t good at anything. She’s a walking disaster, often enough. But she’s pretty good at playing street football with her family. Maybe there was something about that environment and those people that brought out her…I don’t know…competence? Her stability? A level of comfort conducive to her best. And I’m not talking about a complacent comfort zone, because Sue doesn’t have a comfort zone, she doesn’t know what a comfort zone is, she’s balls out all the time.
Look at the way Axl is looking at Sue here, when they’re about to play again, on probably the fourth or fifth day:The nightly game falls apart when Mike and Frankie drop out, and the kids return inside to watch TV. But, to be fair, you can’t really play football with three people, can you?
Mike fakes an injury so he doesn’t have to go play, and Frankie isn’t even trying, which makes all of the kids frustrated.Then Frankie tells them that she’s going inside, and Axl says he’s not just going to play with his stupid sister and dork brother. Sue doesn’t like that.Frankie gets mad at them for not wanting to play with just each other (although, like I pointed out, you can’t play a football game with three people, not a very fun one anyway.) She throws the ball down at the ground, but it bounces up and hits her in the face. The kids are very amused. They can’t wait to go inside and tell their Dad. And Sue tells him that Axl does a really great impression of it:
The way she puts her hand on his arm! Just look at that GIF.
So I believe I mentioned that Axl wears only is boxers when at all possible, but I don’t think that gives you the proper picture. He is, literally, wearing only boxers in almost every scene that takes place in the house.(And sometimes in other places as well.)It’s even on the cover of the season one DVD boxset:If he hasn’t just come home from somewhere, he’s wearing his boxers. He’s usually just wearing boxers even if he’s about to go somewhere, because he can get dressed in ten seconds flat. It’s impressive.
There’s not much to be said about the fact that he prefers to go around half-dressed. It’s understandable because clothes are not comfortable compared to the alternative, though I’m not sure why he doesn’t get colder in the winter. It’s certainly a reflection on how comfortable he is with his own body, but I would never have called Axl humble.
If it reflects on his relationship with Sue, it’s not positive (from our perspective), because if he were aware of her as someone who might respond in some way to his show of skin, he would be less likely to do it, I’m sure. His complete nonchalance about the whole thing is pretty clear evidence that he has zero perception of any kind of sexually-related tension. And not every incestuous relationship is going to have that kind of confused and angsty tension – I doubt Jaime and Cersei went through it much – but with Axl and Sue I think it would be a pretty bumpy ride.
But it does result in a lot of situations where Sue is all up in it, if you know what I mean.
In 1.10 Christmas, Axl, Sue, and Brick fall asleep on the couch.Falling asleep on the couch while watching TV and ending up sort of curled up together is kind of an incest-fantasy staple. I mean, I don’t know if you read my Spencer/Carly fanfic, but I started things off that way. I put it in the prologue. I mean, it’s definitely cliché, you know you’ve seen it in movies with non-incest couples dozens of times, but that’s because it’s very effective and realistic. It could happen. It does happen.
And even though, in this particular instance, we already know that Sue and Axl aren’t going to wake up, look at each other, be magnetically drawn, and begin kissing until the some noise breaks the moment, and they pull away, ashamed, and don’t look at each other again for the rest of the night.
It is a little interesting that he and Sue are next to each other. (Emphasis on the word little.) It doesn’t seem like it at first: if there are three kids, one of them is going to be in between the other two, and Brick is only 1/3, so 2/3 chance of Sue and Axl being next to each other.
But it doesn’t actually work out like that. Brick is usually in between. It makes sense in the car, because he’s little, so they stick him in the hump seat (everyone wants a window in the back seat, another reason to make the youngest sit on the hump). But it’s not only in the car. It’s definitely their pattern, even though the Axl-Sue-Brick order, because of age, is the most logically pleasing. Not everyone is a Von Trapp, standing in age order, but I think our minds work in a certain way, and it’s easier to view things like that. It also puts them in height order, which is aesthetically pleasing.
But the way I like to see it is that Axl and Sue like to keep Brick protectively between them. He’s SO MUCH shorter than them, and significantly younger given how few years separate the two of them. So yes, I view it as protective positioning.
I’m just like Sue, taking something that doesn’t please me (Sue not being next to Axl, or the pattern being random) and turning it upside down into something good (ish).
See: I told you it was something I did.
Anyway…It’s interesting (my favorite word) that Sue is in the middle (pun!) during this particular scene. And thinking about it more, they didn’t even need to fall asleep all on top of each other. Axl had an arm rest he could have made nice use of. Guess Sue was softer.
Axl’s shirtlessness does add some extra juice to other scenes between him and Sue.There’s just something else I wanted to add about the Christmas episode: the family is arguing, and Brick, who has a weird and socially awkward habit of repeating to himself in a whisper part of what he has just said aloud, was told by his father, in an experimental attempt at curing him, that Santa Claus won’t bring him presents if he does it. He tries not to speak, but then accidentally does it and can’t stop, and just keeps doing it over and over again, and he’s freaking out thinking he won’t get any presents. And Sue turns to Axl and says, “Look what you did.” And Axl says, “Me? What did I do?” It just struck me as a very conjugal exchange, like Brick was their kid.
Yes, I indulge in fantasies where Axl and Sue are like Brick’s parents. Which is silly, because Brick is only five years younger than Sue, and at 8 years old he’s far too old to let them treat him like that. But I bet they played house when Brick was really little. Little girls LOVE playing house, and playing mom. I’m sure I mentioned that I’ve spent years babysitting in a nursery, and even three year-olds LOVE to hold a baby doll, and feed it, and wrap it up in blankets and put it down to bed. They love the real thing even more.
Episode 1.15 Valentine’s Day is about…Well, I’ll give you three guesses.
Remember how I mentioned that this show has great continuity? Well part of what makes the continuity so great is the timeline. When it’s supposed to be summer, it’s summer. When it’s supposed to be winter, it’s winter. When two years have passed, Sue really is two years older. When Frankie and her sister are supposed to alternate spending Thanksgiving with their mother, they really do alternate. It’s incredible. And I think that having episodes about each holiday really keep the show on track.
I like this episode, because everyone has their own plans for Valentine’s day – Brick has a sleepover, Sue has a boy-girl party (she does her own make-up, no one has the heart to tell her she looks like a clown, except for Axl who calls her Lady Gaga, but I don’t think Sue got it though she knew all the same to be offended), and Axl and his friends are meeting up with three girls for dinner. But things go wrong – Brick’s friend has an episode, Sue isn’t ready for the wanton fun of a 7th grade boy-girl party, and Axl and his friends get dumped for three guys with more to offer. And so they all end up at the restaurant where Frankie and Mike are trying and failing to have a romantic dinner. It’s just sweet.
Sue and Carly are sitting on one side of the table, and Axl shows up with his friends Sean Donahue and Darrin. Sean is the perfect gentlemen, and he compliments the girls, telling them they look lovely. They’re very flattered. And Axl makes a disgusted face.
Later, Axl being Axl, explains to his mother that he wanted to share Valentine’s Day with the most special woman in his life – her – and Frankie is swooning because, like I said, she’s got a big fat crush on her son – but then Axl laughs because he was just being cruel. As cruel as that was, it is sort of par for the course with Axl. The things he says are *so* cruel that you know he’s joking. Everyone just sort of puts up with it, because that’s how he is. If they believed he meant to be *that* hurtful, then there’d be trouble.
But Sue gives him a dirty look. And I think that’s significant. Not just in this scene, but in her behavior towards him in general. It’s understandable for a sibling to be upset with another sibling when they’ve been insulted. But Sue’s upset with Axl because he has said something hurtful to their mother. And it could just be Sue being empathetic, because she’s kind and that’s very much in her nature. But I think Sue really does want Axl to be a better person. And instead of just wishing it, she sometimes does act towards that goal. Which, again, is, I think, rather wife-like behavior.
And I just love the little moment where he reaches across the table – and this is a big table, there are eight people sitting at it – to take some food from Sue’s plate and she slaps his hand.In episode 1.16 The Bee, Brick is a spelling bee champion, so the family drives to Chicago for the regional competition. But the weekend before it was Sue’s birthday, and Frankie and Mike forgot about it! (Maybe Sixteen Candles should apply.) So to ease the pain, they told Sue that the trip to Chicago was partly for her, and they let her make all of the decisions.
This was not a great idea.
That she chose a motel and a restaurant that didn’t really work out aren’t her fault – making mistakes like that are part of traveling. (Well, they used to be, before Google reviews.) And she’s a rookie, after all. The Hecks don’t travel much.
But there was still a general attitude that she was to blame, which is understandable.
Mike was very proud of Brick’s spelling bee accomplishments, and wanted Brick to sit by a window for the fresh air. So we were treated to Axl and Sue sitting next to each other.Axl tries to sleep against Sue, but she, as the birthday girl, wants to be oxygenated as well. Axl refuses to trade seats with her, but Frankie steps in, and poor Axl is exiled to the hump.
Sue tries to get everyone singing in the car.You can imagine how much Axl loves that. He refuses to sing. So Frankie steps in, and Axl is forced to do it. Even the motions!Sue wants to visit the world’s largest oak tree stump, so they drive a bit out of their way on gravel roads to check it out. I actually think that might be kind of cool, but I like trees. I probably only would have gone if it had been on the way.
The delivery is flawless.
And I just love thinking that Axl had high enough expectations to still have been disappointed. I love thinking of him being letdown by the world’s largest oak tree stump.
Even Sue is disappointed, and at the end of the episode she wonders aloud why she even thought it would be fun.
They get caught in Chicago traffic, and then finally make it to the motel.
I’ve stayed in places that aren’t so nice.
I feel bad for everyone, of course, but worse for Sue, because you just know everyone is angry at her, and judging her.
Axl has his second great line and delivery: “Oh my God. Sue should never be allowed to decide anything again in our entire lives. This place makes our house look nice!” I mean, it’s a cruel thing to say, but it’s also sort of clever in its cruel way. The worst insult he can think of, I’m sure. But he’s a privileged boy who doesn’t realize he’s privileged.
I do like that he said “our entire lives”. Intentional or not, it does show that he’s not envisioning a future without her.
The sleeping arrangements are amusing. Brick and Sue both get the queen beds, for the same reason they both got the window seats. Mike and Frankie sleep on the floor, and Axl gets some sort of cot that is broken and won’t lay flat.
If I was Sue, I would have given up the queen out of guilt. (In her defense, she does cry all night long. That keeps everyone up, though.)
If I was Frankie, I would have put Axl in with Brick and then put the cot mattress on the ground for me and Mike.
If I was me, I would have put Sue and Axl in bed together and got a different room for everyone else.Axl is so cute during the bee.He’s so into it, not calling it lame or making fun of the contestants or anything, just cheering Brick on and getting nervous when it got down to only two of them. Brick loses, but only because he accidentally whispered a letter to himself and the microphone picked it up.
Brick thought the trip was really fun, and says that he thinks Sue should pick everything. Awwwwwwwwwww. He was upset he didn’t win, but only because he wanted to go to the national championships in Washington D.C. because the trip had been so fun and he wanted to do another one.In 1.17 The Break Up, Axl falls hard for the girl I mentioned, Morgan, and is crushed in return. (You remember the disgustingly perfect picture of them kissing?) As much as I hate seeing Axl get all emotional over just some girl, it was nice to see him emoting a bit. He runs to his mother’s arms and cries. Awwwwwww.
In the b plot, Sue and Brick watched a scary movie together and were scarred for life. They begin to think the town has been taken over by pod zombies, starting with the very out-of-character Axl. Actually, there was a very similar plotline in Phineas and Ferb in which Candace thinks Ferb is an alien. Anyway, I only mention the b plot because the episode culminates in a basketball game, and Brick wants Sue to come do something with him, and Sue says, “I’m not missing the game!” Somebody likes watching her big bro play.
Axl makes a grand gesture for Morgan during the game, truly more awful than anything Sue has done to date though he never pays a price for it the way Sue would have to. Morgan doesn’t want him back, but a few of the girls in the crowd were moved. Axl’s mood turns around pretty quick as he gets out of the car to go join them instead of driving home from the game with his family. He looks at Sue right before he hops out to join the ladies. Nothing in it, of course, and yet…In 1.19 The Final Four, Brick is supposed to go a birthday party, but he doesn’t want to go, so he gets Sue to call the not-so-much-a-friend’s mother and cancel. First of all, Sue is a terrible liar. She hates lying, so she’s not very good at it. She hates deception. When she went to a R-rated movie even though she didn’t have permission, she grounded herself for an additional week out of guilt. (And was quite disgusted by the r-rated themes and content of the film.) That’s just a cute part of her personality. It’s a hilarious scene – Sue ends up leaving about twelve messages because each time she forgets an important piece of information, and then they have to call and say Brick really are going to attend, because something comes up and Frankie is going to have to call and say that Brick can’t come. You’re getting bored, right? You’re like ‘Where’s the Axl?” Anyway, even though Sue has rehearsed the call, and left more than a couple of messages already, she accidentally says that she’s Axl’s mom. Guess she just thinks about Axl a lot…
The event that takes Brick away from the party is the death of one of Frankie’s uncles. So, congratulations, you get some barely relevant Charlie McDermott suit porn:The season finale – 1.24 Average Rules – is, naturally, very touching. Frankie has had enough of Sue trying her hardest and not making it onto anything, so she goes to talk with the principal, and gets cross country to be “no cuts”. All Sue has to do is make it around the track five times and she’s in. But Sue never has it easy, and while practicing she is hit by a deer. The deer hits her.
But being on crutches won’t deter her. Rain won’t deter her. Dirt being thrown in her face by a passing lawn mower won’t deter her. One of the crutches breaking won’t deter her. Falling on her face at the wrong line won’t deter her. She hops and eventually crawls her way to the finish line, her family cheering her on.I don’t know what this picture is, because everyone is mysteriously dry, but I can’t ignore the quality. There’s a poster, but I can only find a picture of the poster:It’s nice of Axl to be there. It probably has more to do with it being the triumphant final scene of the season finale than anything else, but it did happen, whatever the meta reasons.
Axl calls out to her, “You can do it!” He puts his hands up to his mouth so that you know he really wants her to hear him say it. Then he points at her and says, “Looking pretty good.” She can’t hear that. But Brick can, and he gives Axl a puzzled look.As Sue gets close, Axl is totally in front running to line up to greet her as she arrives.He and Mike help her to her feet.They were going to hoist her up on their shoulders, but she was too sore under her arms from the crutches.There’s a big family hug, of course. Brick is out of sight. I think he was literally just too short to be included in the shot.
Sue is ecstatic when the shamed cross country coach throws her her tee-shirt, making it all official:And then another hug:Look at how awkward and adorable they are when they pull away from the hug:He doesn’t want to let go of her! And then Sue sweeps the hair out of her face, and Axl wipes the water from his eyes.
While everyone is congratulating Sue and slapping her on the back, Axl is just kind of awkwardly standing behind her. I’m sure Charlie McDermott’s stage direction was just to stay in the frame, smiling and looking supportive, but it’s a little awkward. Having watched it in slow motion in order to take screenshots, I have to say there’s overwhelming body language from him to hug Sue, but he’s never quite able to pull her into his arms (aside from the group hug, and he was behind her for that). I’m not just saying that. Undoubtedly, I’m biased, but there is something very unconsummated in this scene.
It reminded me of two things: 1) when Spencer won that video game against Sasha Striker and everyone was jumping around excitedly. There was never a proper hug between him and Carly. And 2) when Elena is saved and runs home to see Jeremy, but Bonnie squeezes in and hugs Elena first and Jeremy just waits impatiently for his turn.
It’s like Axl is waiting impatiently for his turn and his turn never comes. He keeps his eyes on her the whole time, his arms at ready, but it never happens. At least not the one-on-one full hug that he seems to want.
I won’t drone on and on. You’ll just have to trust me.
Sue decides to have a crush on Sean Donahue in episode 2.03 The Diaper Incident. I’m surprised she didn’t have a huge crush on him already. Like me. Frankie considers this a matter of course, and in her narration even says that if you have an older brother, at one point or another you’re going to have a crush on one of his friends. Of course Sue has no chance with Sean. Even ignoring the fact that she’s in eighth grade and he’s a sophomore in high school, there’s the little matter of social status. Not even social status, just general attractiveness rating. Sue either has too big a heart to even recognize the existence of such a system, or she’s really that clueless.
Sean is a really nice, polite guy. If you’ll recall the Valentine’s Day episode, he compliments her. But Sue takes his kindness a little far in her own mind and actually convinces herself that he’s interested in her. Her friend Carly is of little help, although Carly ought to know better. When not-yet-gay-ex-boyfriend Brad comes by, Sue is swept up into such an emotional tizzy that she decides that maybe she’s not ready for a love triangle. Axl and Sean are going to get food, and Sean invites Sue to come along, and Sue gives him a whole speech about how she can’t. Fortunately Sean doesn’t seem to be much smarter than she is, and totally doesn’t catch on.
Unfortunately they are not in the clear yet: Sue has been writing Sean poetry, and I don’t know how, but a selection ends up in the passenger seat of Axl’s car. Sean finds it and has some questions, but Axl takes the fall and says that he’s been writing it himself for a girl he likes. Say it with me now: “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” Sean finds it peculiar that Axl dots his I’s with hearts, but Axl tells him that they’re butts.I have to complain a little that we didn’t get to see more of Axl’s reaction to the crush. He picks up on it while Sue is giving her little speech, but we mostly just see puzzlement. It hasn’t quite settled in yet.
In 2.04 Foreign Exchange, Sue and Axl are particularly unharmonious. Frankie tell us that because it was Sue’s time of the month – and by that she means her time of the month to get her braces tightened – that she doesn’t just let Axl’s bullying slide.
In 2.07 A Birthday Story, Axl has a crush on his hot new manager at the movie theater. (And she was super hot.) But she’s really stupid and lazy and selfish. Mostly stupid. Axl puts up with a lot, doing more than is his job and covering for her, but he finally has enough and flips out on her, leaving her on her own so that she has to pay the price for her incompetence. He has a talk with his dad, and Mike reveals that dumb finally trumped hot, and Axl is learning to appreciate more than just a pretty face.
Sounds promising, right?
In 2.08 Errand Boy, Axl is growing a beard as part of a fundraiser or school spirit thing. He doesn’t have much to show for his efforts. Or lack of efforts at shaving. His parents are making fun of him. Sue needs a ride, and she tells him that it looks great, “very manly”. So he high fives her. But then he leaves before she can ask for the ride.
This was a major compliment coming from Sue, because it didn’t look manly at all.
Obviously, it was motivated by her need for a ride, but she sounded quite genuine when she said it.
This is a really sweet episode for Sue and her father. Mike ends up driving Sue and her friends to the movies, and when he finds out that some boys might be joining them at the movies, he sees the movie too. When Sue goes to the bathroom, he overhears one of the friends talking to Carly about a sleepover that Sue isn’t invited to. Mike gets pissed. This other friend does more than exclude Sue, she also talks about herself all the time and brags and is just horrible. So Mike tries to protect Sue from finding out, and gives both the girl and her father a mouthful, and then has a movie night with Sue. Mike can come across as a little negligent sometimes, but like Axl he always comes through. And he can be fierce when the occasion calls for it. And, naturally, he’s much more protective of Sue, which is adorable.
This isn’t strictly about Axl and Sue, but in 2.09 Thanksgiving II, Frankie grows frustrated with Mike’s family and how they interact with each other, and particularly, in this case, with Mike and his brother’s relationship. She says to him, “He’s your brother, Mike, your partner for life.” Gosh I love Frankie. That other quote, and now this one. Fiona Coyne would like this quote.
I’m not even sure what else to say about it. It doesn’t even need commentary.
I love that even though Frankie has a happy, loving, healthy marriage that has lasted for twenty years, she stills vaults the sibling relationship into what sounds like primary place.
Not every person would say something like that. And I’m not just talking about Frankie, I’m talking about the writers for the show. Not every show espouses that kind family-centric theming. Even TV shows with a familial relationship at the center often ignore the familial relationships of everyone else. Movies are even worse because you only get two hours. But I always find myself wondering: “Doesn’t this person have parents?”
There was also a gesture in this episode I liked a lot:He was just trying to pass the phone off to Sue because he didn’t want to talk to their grandmother anymore, but when you don’t know that it looks very nice, doesn’t it?
In 2.10 A Simple Christmas, the Hecks want to cut back on spending money, so they decide that just one gift, and perhaps something more meaningful, would be better than just giving a bunch of stuff for the heck of it it (pun!). Axl offers his services to Brick instead of a gift, and so Brick asks him to build an igloo. Axl tries really hard at it, and gets so offended when Brick demands more.
It becomes THE hangout, and all three of them seem to like it a lot in there with each other. But there’s a problem – the neighbors, the Glossner boys. Sue wants to just stand up to them, and begins crawling out of the igloo, and protective Axl and Brick are begging her not to.
In 2.12 The Big Chill, Axl has a project in health class to take care of a fake baby to teach lessons about contraception. This is a sophisticated and technologically-advanced fake baby with sensors and all sorts of things that public schools could never afford – talk about suspension of disbelief.
Needless to say, he doesn’t exactly embrace the assignment, although he can’t blow it off completely because he needs a decent grade. (It’s weird, I’m getting déjà vu. Did I talk about something like this for a different show?) He tries to come up with a lot of different ways to cut corners, and tries to get others to do his work for him.
Sue comes up to their mother and tells her that Axl told her that because she’s the aunt of the baby she has to change its diapers. She’s complaining, because she doesn’t want to do it. But she obviously feels some sort of obligation, some sort of nagging sense of responsibility or else she would have outright refused. I mean, if Axl told her to do his math homework, I don’t think he would have gone to Frankie, I think she would have laughed in his face…and possibly hit him.
I think this represents a possible identification with Axl’s future, perhaps a prescient intuition. (Just look at the BS coming out of my fingers. It’s like being back in college.) Not that I mean Sue is going to have his babies or anything, but even just the acknowledgment that she will have an important role in his later life.
The same goes for Axl, who, after all, was the person to use this reasoning in the first place. He’s the one who came up with the idea that Sue should be changing the diapers because she’s the aunt, because she’s his sister, and that invites a certain obligation.
And Axl ends up naming the baby Brick. Which Brick doesn’t like, but it’s kind of sweet in its pranky way. The baby is actually a girl, which he would know if he had “changed her diaper even once”, Frankie informs him. Maybe he knew, but felt uncomfortable about calling it Sue? OK, no, probably not that. Still, naming the baby after his brother says something about how he views family.
Brick and Axl share a bedroom, and the baby’s crying is keeping Brick up. Sue invites Brick to come sleep in her bed (very generous, as she only has a twin-size). She’s pretty excited about it, and keeps calling it a sleepover and saying she always wanted a roommate. Of course, Brick knows better. But it makes me wonder if Sue felt a little left out. They all sleep with their doors WIDE open, so it’s almost like they all share a room anyway.
The baby has finally fallen asleep, and Axl tells them to keep quiet so they won’t wake it up. So Sue throws a shoe at the wall every time the baby falls asleep. She and Brick have a pretty good laugh over that.
But they end up making a hole in the wall, and the more they try to fix it, the worse it becomes. It turns a real quagmire for them, because they don’t want to tell their parents, but are completely incapable of solving the problem themselves. Brick accidentally tips his plate and an egg falls in there, and Sue tears the wall up some more to get at the egg. It gets very complicated. (They cover the hole with posters. A few episodes later, in an again impressive show of continuity, Sue fesses up.)
Even though Axl never does a particularly good job taking care of the baby, he still has all the complaints a good parent would have, and sounds very much like one. He has to turn down his friends for activities in order to take care of the baby. He gets very frustrated and says to Brick, “I get it, I get it: if a girl invites you into her bed, there are going to be consequences.” And I thought that was weirdly worded, until Brick responds, “Don’t I know it.” In reference, of course, to the impossible task now before him and Sue.The look on Axl’s face!
Well, an incest joke is to be treasured, even if it’s about Sue and Brick.
I’m sure it got Axl thinking a little bit. Even if the connotation of the sentence was different, it still applied to both situations, so, like I said, I’m sure it got Axl thinking.
In 2.13 Super Sunday, after learning that there are books about football and even some three-syllable words involved, Brick becomes an expert. Mike, being mostly interested in sports, and Brick, having zero interest in sports, haven’t often found common ground for bonding time. But they become best buds in this episode. And Axl, who spends the first part of the episode laughing at Mike for inviting him to watch the game with him when he could have gone across the street to the Donahues and watched it with Sean on their big TV, ends up getting very jealous. Axl doesn’t really like family time, and spends a lot of time mocking the family and their activities. But this episode makes it pretty clear that that’s because he takes it all for granted.
I think that’s key.
2.14 Valentine’s Day II is a personal favorite, I think.
It starts off well. Sue has been searching for the boy she kissed on Halloween, the boy from the hayride, without any luck. Axl says to her, “If I had kissed you, I’d probably go into hiding too.”First of all: bangerang, Axl-o.
This works in two ways, because he gets to insult Sue by implying that anyone would be embarrassed to have kissed her, but also it’s totally true because Axl probably would want to go into hiding if he had ever kissed Sue.Sue actually looks a little shocked at first – like what? You’re surprised he insulted you? – but then she just shakes her head and walks away after Axl tells her that she has been “axed.” That’s what he says, “You’ve been axed, by the Axman.” I’m sure it makes Frankie regret her name choice.
I really can’t remark on much here, except that these little things are exactly what I live for.
This would have been a delight in any episode, but not only is this a Valentine’s Day episode, there’s more!
Frankie is pretty darn stoked that she won’t have to keep the usual 20 foot distance.
This is how he normally reacts when she tries to hug him:
Then they go to lunch at the food court.
In her narration she says, “Now that I’d been allowed to spend a little time with Axl, I was hooked. I wanted more.” She ends up tricking him into going to dinner with her by convincing him he should test out the restaurant he’s going to take his girlfriend to. She tells him she’ll be ready by six, and she tells someone else that her son is “taking” her to dinner.And when they go to dinner she is so flirty, touching his hand and telling him that he’s so funny and giggling. Oh my god, it’s hilarious.
Like, that was enough. Patricia Heaton makes it pretty clear. But then they arrive home, and they’re standing on the porch, and Frankie tells him, “I had a really good time tonight”, and she says, “You know, you and I should do something again tomorrow”, and then, here’s the kicker, she asks him if he wants to come in.
That actually happens.
Axl’s girlfriend is kind of a worst case scenario for any parent – rude, pink hair (some of it shaved), piercings, tattoos, a criminal record, etc., oh, and she’s 19! Mike tells Frankie that the only reason she allowed it to happen was because she was too busy dating their son.
And Frankie starts out her defense by saying, “We went out a couple of times,” like she’s contesting the suggestion that a few dates equals dating rather than the idea that she’s interacting with her son in a manner resembling courtship.
And then she realizes it and makes a face and that’s that.
Now, anyone who had seen Frankie out with Axl during these scenes would have realized that things weren’t normal here, but I’m surprised Mike, who wasn’t really around, picked up on it.
Of course, it’s perfectly possible to have a platonic relationship that highly resembles a dating relationship. New friendships often start out the same way.
The porch scene did take things a little far. Not like, “wow, they went there” far, but Frankie was dating Axl. I mean, that’s clear from the porch scene.
If this was a drama, Mike would have totally been jealous. I mean, I’ve joked before that Frankie has a crush on Axl, but it’s also not really a joke. Frankie wants to miss Sue’s first cross country meet (the first meet of the only extracurricular she has ever made ever) because Axl has made varsity football (as a sophomore, really? And varsity basketball as a freshman?) and that means that during the homecoming game the players walk out with their parents on the field, and she says that she can kiss his cheek without him wiping it off because everyone will be watching.
It’s not like Axl is his friend Darrin, who actually does seem to have a crush on his considerably less milfish-mother.
But I do find it extremely pleasing that the episode in which Axl makes a joke about kissing Sue is the same episode in which he inadvertently dates his mom. And that’s not just my interpretation of the events. That’s in the dialogue.
Things don’t work out between Axl and his girlfriend. She’s a vegetarian, which is apparently a deal breaker. You and me both, Axl.
2.16 Hecks On A Plane is a big one for Axl/Sue interaction. Sue enters a lot of contests, and what she usually wins isn’t much to brag about, but in this case she won for real a trip for four to New York. Mike, Frankie, Axl, and Sue run to each other and begin jumping around excitedly.They don’t even have to think about it – their automatic assumption is that it would be the four of them. And they’re Sue’s tickets – she may want it to be her mother and then two friends, but Axl seems to assume he’s going and Sue doesn’t even bat an eye.
They decide to bring Brick along too, and end up with one first class ticket which causes some trouble as they try and fail to take turns.
Sue is asking Axl why he can’t go five minutes without insulting her. He says, “I’m not mean to you. Now move your knobby elbow.” And tells her, “I’m not insulting you, I’m just stating facts.” Unfortunately, this is sort of true, a lot of the time. “Your elbow is knobby, fact. Your hair is stringy, fact.” Notice again his preoccupation with her looks.
(I realize that’s not actually much of a point.)
She challenges him to go 24 hours without saying something mean to her. He says that he can do it, and if she doesn’t believe he can, she’s an idiot.
Remind you of anything? OK, actually I may not have mentioned this although I feel like I did, but Freddie challenges Sam to the exact same thing on iCarly. And, spoiler warning, they end up dating!
Sue brings along her diary to write in. Brick has forgotten his books at home, and asks to read hers, but she won’t let him. However she’s not too protective of it, because she leaves it behind when she finally gets her turn up in first class. Axl ends up reading it. Actually I’m surprised, because I’m sure he knows just how boring it’s going to be.
Still, I think when a teenage boy reads his teenage sister’s diary, it’s suggestive. I expounded on that a little in one of my Vampire Diaries entries, because Jeremy reads Elena’s diary and I thought that was a little eyebrow raising. The difference is that Jeremy is the younger brother (though only by one year), and he already knew that Elena’s diary would be chock full of juicy scandal and hot vampire lovemaking.
Frankie takes the diary away from him, but of course reads it herself. And it is truly pathetic. I kept a diary in middle school, and I wasn’t exactly having sex with vampires but even I managed to keep it a little bit more exciting than talking about lettuce. Although it really was depressing how much of my diary was about TV.
It’d be even worse if I kept one now.
Well, there’s a snowstorm, so the plane ends up circling the airport for a few hours, and then has to land in Pittsburgh. Mike points out that they’re closer to home than they are to New York, and the 9-hour bus ride doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to him.Axl agrees – he says “This trip blows and I’m drained from being nice to Sue”, and it seems like Sue and Frankie are the only ones who want to make it to New York anymore.
Sue is feeling very dejected. She doesn’t actually cry, but that’s a lot to ask from Eden Sher on a show like this for a scene like this. I think she would have been full-on crying if this scene was being lived by Sue and not acted out by Eden.
She complains that she’s won this contest, probably the biggest thing to ever happen to her, and now they’re just going to go home, and even when she wins she loses.
And she looks at Axl, though not with any pleading in her eyes, and you can see that he’s being moved against his will.The way he looks at her! It’s like she has this inclination to look at him in supplication, but she thinks better of it and remembers that he wants to go home too and that he can’t go one minute without being mean to her, and he sees all of that on her face and he feels like shit. (I wish the GIF was better, but the exchange was too long, which means I had to use every fifth frame instead of every other one or every third.)
Then Brick and Axl and Mike all look at each other with a guilty sigh.
I love how embarrassed he is. Just like he was with the jersey. He can’t even look at her.
And then she says, “Really? Oh Axl!” And then she rushes towards him for a hug, “You were actually nice to me!” But he pushes her away and says, “Touch me and the deal’s off.”Well Axl went above and beyond. He just wasn’t supposed to insult her. A nine hour ride in a bus is a major sacrifice.
And the looks on Sue’s face really say it all.
In 2.17 The Math Class, Sue and Axl are both sent to go take care of their great aunts because they were fighting over who had to do it. It’s pretty funny – in all the times I remember Sue and Axl fighting over whose turn it was to do a chore, Sue was usually trying to get out of it using some pretty faulty logic and Axl had the right.
The timing of this episode is really messed up, because the first part of Sue and Axl’s B plot takes place in one night while the A plot (the one about the titular math class) covers several days and the scenes are intercut. But no matter.
Sue listens to their great aunt Edie speak of a time capsule she had buried as a girl, and Sue wants to help her go dig it up at her old house because she wants to do something nice for her and help her fulfill a desire she had had for a long time.
Sue goes to plead for Axl’s help while he’s playing with his nunchucks, in his underwear, in front of the mirror.( In another episode he reveals that his nunchucks are his most prized possession.)Axl refuses to help (Sue needs him to drive). Sue tries to guilt him into it by saying something about being a good person like Beyonce (I really don’t feel like looking up the exact quote), but Axl isn’t exactly moved.
However, he’s back at the aunts’ house later, and he thinks for a moment that Aunt Edie is dead. When she wakes up, he has a change of heart. He repeats a variation on what Sue had said about Beyonce, and while the parallel dialogue unifies the storyline and reminds us of the earlier conversation, I’d like to think that Sue was having an impact on him. I mean, he quotes what Sue had said about him, and realizes it was true. Axl doesn’t seem like he would probably listen to Sue all that much, but he seems to hear every word that she says. He never misses a chance to mock something she has said.
When Sue came home and said that she wanted to take classes to be a model, Axl says, “Mom, are you going to take this one, or should I?” He was watching TV, so I’m surprised he even noticed that Sue had spoken.And when Sue wonders if youth group is for losers, Axl just starts turning his head towards her with a smile, but Frankie stops him from saying anything.But not even bad stuff like that. When Sue does a skit at school about the dangers of texting and drinking and driving, she shows the family an obituary about a woman who had died from doing it. And then in a later scene Axl is trying to get out of a test, and he tells his teacher that he lost a relative, and tells her the woman’s name and that she can look her up in the obits. He even remembered the woman’s name!
There are more examples of Axl recalling details of what Sue has said, but I don’t remember them anymore.
While I was watching the series I made a few notes of what I wanted to talk about, but half the time I was just like, “Oh, I’ll remember it”.
I don’t remember.
Axl likes Aunt Edie. He really does. In the first Christmas episode he gets a phone, but it’s only for family. He starts out very disappointed, because why would he want to call family? But we see him at the end laughing on the phone and saying he’ll call someone back later, only for him to say, “Bye, Aunt Edie.”
Well, Edie has Alzheimer’s, or some sort of dementia, and so her memory isn’t that reliable. They go around in circles, and then must have found the house eventually, just in time for Edie to remember that actually she had read about the time capsule in a book. This has me worried, because when I get old and my mind starts to go there is going to be a lot more movies and TV in my memory than life I’ve lived. I’m going to have some very skeptical young ‘uns around me, I’m sure, considering my love for fantasy and science fiction. It’ll be zombies instead of time capsules.
However, the owners of the house come home and Edie sprays them with a hose, which gives everyone a good laugh. And then she starts talking about some of her real memories, and Sue and Axl get interested.Episode 2.18 Spring Cleaning has the Hecks trying to get rid of all of their junk. What happened in this episode majorly needs to happen at my house, but this episode shows just exactly why it hasn’t happened.
There’s just one cute moment where Sue is trying to get rid of her curlers but has a bit of an emotional attachment to them. Axl points out that they don’t even work – it surprises me that he knows that – but this bond between Sue and her curlers is very profound. Axl knows Sue well enough to realize what’s going on here: Sue thinks the curlers have feelings. She reveals that she used to alternate which one she used first so that none of them would feel left out.
This is one of those moments where you wish Sue would just swallow a big dose of reality.But Axl makes fun of her and it’s hilarious. He tells her she can only save one, and Sue’s like, “No, Axl! You’re scaring them.”You know what I realized as I just rewatched that scene? When Sue says his name angrily, it sounds like she’s saying “Asshole.” Axl sounds a lot of like asshole.
2.21 is Mother’s Day II. What Frankie wants for Mother’s Day is to just be left alone. So Mike takes the kids to Brown county, whatever that is. But apparently there’s a fair, and all sorts of fun things. When they come home they tell Frankie about what they did, and Sue says that she was scared to go on the Ferris wheel, but then Axl tickled her and she “forgot all about it”.Then Axl says that she had the funniest laugh, and they all started laughing when she laughed. And he does an impression of her laugh.Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? She was afraid, and he tickled her to distract her, and it totally worked.
I wish we could have seen it…
Frankie gets jealous about the great day they all together, because she ended up wasting her free day on a series of housekeeping tasks. So she makes them all repeat it for her, but it’s a complete disaster. Axl, Brick, and Sue all sit in the same gondola when they ride the Ferris wheel. They put Brick between them.
You know, to protect him.
We’re moving right along, aren’t we?
The season premiere is kind of amazing. When I heard the title 3.01, 3.02 Forced Family Fun, I knew it had potential.
Now, personally, I love camping. But I suppose I can understand how it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, particularly in this day and age when we live on our computers and our phones.
So Axl is sort of at his wits end with Sue in this episode.
He tells that when they’re at school, she should not speak to him, approach him, or acknowledge him in any way. If an emergency happens – like their mother or father dies – she can relay the message to Sean who will let Axl know.
Honestly, I can’t really blame Axl for trying to set some boundaries up. Sue would be an embarrassing sibling to have, if you care about those things. Personally, I think having Sue for a sister would be the greatest thing ever.
I’m not going to talk about every little moment between them in this episode because that would be exhausting, but at one point he tries to shut her mouth using the chip clip but ends up getting her eyebrow, and he takes advantage of her gullibility and all the questions she’s asking about high school to convince her she needs a very special kind of eraser that the school is very strict about. It’s not an episode about them getting along.
At a campsite nearby a family has a Winnebago with a TV and all that – glampers – and Axl wants to go over there and watch TV, but Frankie tells him no, that they’re playing a board game.
“Even in the woods we’re the poorest family!” Axl declares. Reminded me a lot of his zingers from The Bee.
It’s pretty hilarious, because all of their board games are mixed up. Frankie brought Monopoly, but it has pieces from a bunch of other games in there. So Frankie tries to turn it into a game that makes sense, but it doesn’t make any sense. When it’s Brick’s turn he says, “But I don’t know the rules of the game,” and Mike says, “No one knows the rules of the game.”
Sue is supposed to pick up a card, so Axl picks one up for her, and feigns reading that she should go to Loserville where she already owns all of the properties. So then Sue picks up a card, and makes up something for him. And they go back and forth about four times or so. I’m trying to find the right way to word what I want to say about this scene, and I just can’t get it. I guess what I’m trying to get at is a kind of equality. Even though Axl is a little wittier, if he had any real integrity he would have just walked away. But neither one of them backed down. They were so wrapped up in the fight with each other that the fact that it was happening in front of their parents, or that it made them look stupid, or that it had gone on several minutes longer than it should have didn’t really matter to them. To either of them.
Axl comes off as very angry with Sue. When he tells on Brick that Brick is reading a book, Brick tells Axl not to take his anger with Sue out on him. I can understand him being annoyed with her endless in inquiries, but his anger is a little intense for that. Of course, there’s also the fact that he’s scared that Sue is going to be at his school and embarrass him. She’s now “coming into my world, and Sueing it up.” But what he should be doing is teaching her how to be cooler. Some of her questions were good ones, like whether it was OK for her to eat Goldfish or whether that was too juvenile. If he would have taken the time to answer her they would all be better off.
This poor family all has to share one tent, and it’s not a large tent. It’s rather apparent they don’t go camping very often, so I suppose it makes sense that they’re not all that well-equipped, but five people squeezed into that tent is very cozy.
Again I was shorted. Deprived. Denied. Sue’s sleeping area was not right next to Axl.
Although perhaps for the best, because Sue became a girl flowered in this episode. That’s right, the poor thing started her period. While camping. Being on your period while camping sucks. In fact, it’s reason enough not to go. Sue’s excited. I guess every girl is a little excited the first time. That sure as hell doesn’t last. Sue tells her mother, but asks her not to tell Mike or Axl. I guess it’s OK if Brick knows. (Brick’s read all sorts of books, so he knows everything about everything.)
It’s in the middle of the night, she’s just woken her mother to tell her. But then a bear attacks! And Frankie remembers Brick reading aloud to them that it’s theorized that bears are attracted to menstruating women. I don’t know if that’s true. Do bears have that good a sense of smell? Bears are also attracted to poorly packed foot, and if that chip clip didn’t make it back onto the chips that could be the explanation as well. Just saying.
Frankie starts screaming that a bear is attacking and that Sue started her period. Over and over again. There’s a reaction shot on Axl and he looks scared. Probably the bear. Might have been the blood talk though.They all run to the car. Frankie runs first. Way to take care of your kids, lady.
Mike tries to start the car, but Brick has drained the battery by using the light to read.
The bear then starts attacking the car. And they all have to wait it out. The bear sticks around for quite a while.
Axl says, “Just give her to the bear and let him marry her. It’s not like she’s going to do any better.”
There’s a lot in that sentence.
Even though menstruating is a sign of sexual maturity, depending upon how old the girl is, it sometimes comes at the beginning of puberty. I started menstruating when I was 10, which is pretty young, obviously. (I think I mentioned that before. You’re probably starting to wonder why I keep bringing it up.) I wouldn’t say that I reached sexual maturity at ten years old. Obviously. And in our society we don’t marry girls off at 13 like they did in ancient times, and age of consent isn’t even until 16 at the youngest in most places, and I don’t know the statistics but most girls start before then and if you haven’t started by then it raises some alarms. What I am taking so long to say is that in our time a girl starting her period doesn’t necessarily make one think of sexual readiness.
But that’s what Axl thinks of. He equates Sue starting her period with her becoming a sexual being. He makes the assumption that the bear is drawn to her sexually (wants to marry her) because she has now reached sexual maturity. Not because, I don’t know, it smells blood and that made it hungry because it’s carnivorous. It could be a mama bear, after all.
Axl’s the one who’s making it all about sex.
Well, Axl and me.
It also amuses me that I’ve got this screenshot from earlier in the episode where it looks like Sue is being offered to Axl. Really Frankie is bringing her out so Axl can apologize to her for the chip clip incident. But what is context?
It’s like in Dogtooth. The parents don’t let the kids leave the house, but boys get restless because they have needs. And when bringing a prostitute back to the house stops working out (in a big way), the Dad’s just like, “Eh, let him pick one of his sisters.”
He totally picked the wrong one. I guess feeling them up while blindfolded isn’t the best method for making a proper selection.
I feel like they’re probably pretty safe in the car, but they are terrified. Brick screams that they’re all going to die. He’s lying in the very back, the trunk part.
So Axl and Sue are alone in the backseat. He’s in only his boxers, like usual, and I didn’t get any good screenshots because Mike and Frankie are in the way, by they’re totally clinging to each other back there.
And Frankie asks Mike to call her when he gets to work. And he says he’ll call her from the car.
Then Axl says, “We’ll call you too, Mom.”
It’s like he and Sue are a unit now. They’ll call together because, of course, they’re going to spend the whole day together.
He puts his arm on Sue while he says it, very very very very husband-like. Just the way they speak for each other in this scene. Sue says, “Us, too, Brick.” And Axl says, “We’ll call you too, Mom.”
And the way Axl watches Sue during this whole scene. It totally makes them look like a unit.And then as they are all about to leave, Frankie says, “Wait. Family hug.” And they all sprint into her arms and hug. They RUN.And look at Axl and Sue as they pull apart:And then – this is the best part – that’s right, the best is yet to come – Axl and Sue go skipping down to Axl’s car ARM IN ARM.I mean, just look at them. I don’t even have to say anything about it.
See how she smiles at him!
Of course it doesn’t last very long. He ends up driving away without her after she asks him another question about high school as she’s about to open the car door. But we’re meant to believe he was sincere about everything up until that point.
Episode 3.03 Hecking Order focuses on Axl adjusting to Sue being at his school. Despite what he said earlier about her not even speaking to him if one of their parents was dead, Sue did not get the message and tries to say hello to him every chance she gets. It’s so cute how excited she is every time she sees him.
She gets REALLY excited.
“You ruin my life at school and now you’re ruining my life at home!” he shouts. “I need my space.” And then he gets up from the dinner table and walks to his room.And Sue gets up and follows him, saying, “What are you talking about? I totally give you space. In what way am I not giving you space?”
Axl finds this all very annoying, and to get back at her he suggests that she should take a swimming class, knowing full well that it was on the opposite side of the campus from her next class and that there was no way she’d make it to her next class on time.
I’m not sure Sue ever realizes his advice was born of revenge.Axl informs their parents that they can check her tardies online. And he tells Sue that she he’ll see her at the sawmill because she just got axed. So then Sue tells them that Axl eats four donuts for lunch (God that sounds like the best lunch ever. But not even I can eat four donuts in one sitting.). And then she tells him that she’ll see him in court because he’s just been sued.Bangerang – Susi-o.
I think it’ll be good for Axl to get some of his own medicine.
Well, Sue as determined a person as ever, tries every which way to get to class on time, cutting through auditoriums and lunch rooms and shop class. Unfortunately for her, an amorous couple likes to make out in front of her locker, and not only does Sue not have the aggression to shout at them to move, but even doing that would take precious seconds she doesn’t have. So she begins carrying everything around in her backpack.
But that makes her backpack very heavy.
And everyone saw, and they took pictures, and they called her turtle girl.
Never in a million years would I have walked away like that, but from Axl I don’t see it as above-average reprehensible. The damage was done – Sue was already humiliated. There was little reason for Axl to associate himself with it when there was nothing he could do. Someone would have helped her up eventually.
OK, so remember when I giggled because Frankie told Axl to” do Sue”?
Well, when Sue reports on the events of the day and the turtle girl incident, Frankie says, “You didn’t flip your sister? What’s the matter with you? I can’t believe you wouldn’t flip your sister.” (Now, it’s true that one would speak of flipping a turtle back over, but this is before the term turtle girl was ever brought up.) I use “flip” as a replacement for the F word because I don’t really like to swear. I don’t know how common that is but it’s something I’ve been doing for a while and I feel like I must have gotten it from somewhere. And I don’t know if sex is the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when they hear the word “flip”, but I think of it kind of like how “tumble” can be a euphemism for sex. And couples flip in bed – “flip” as in change positions.
So, then Axl refuses to drive her anymore. And Frankie’s had enough of his insolence, and tells him that he doesn’t get to refuse do things like that. So she writes down the chain of command, with her at the top and all of the kids below.
And Sue asks, “Why am I under Axl?”
Too much right? I’m like a middle school boy.
Frankie says it’s a random order, but she put them in age order so probably not so random. “Let’s just be clear: Axl is not in charge of me,” Sue says.
“You think I want to be in charge of you?” Axl asks. “Drive you? Flip you? All this responsibility?”
Well, Axl does have to keep driving her. But he forces her to get down out of sight when they get close to the school.
Now, I feel really dirty making jokes about this. But you know what everyone thinks when a guy’s driving and a girl bends down and disappears, or her head pops up from nowhere.
Obviously, that she’s dropped something and has bent down to pick it up off the floor. Duh.
But some people with gutterous minds think of other things.And some of the expressions during Sue’s little maneuver here are verging on suggestive:For better observation:I mean I know she’s supposed to look angry. But I’m getting more of a “lets-have-angry-sex” vibe. And Axl looks like he has some serious expectations:
Clearly that’s not how I see them. (As a staunch supporter of safe driving practices, Sue would never do such a thing.) But I couldn’t help sharing my amusement.
Maybe it’s just Charlie. Check out this look he makes at Sean Donahue:Frankie’s little chart got Sue thinking about what it meant to be the middle child, and she complains to him that she’s ignored, invisible (while she’s hiding in the foot space of the passenger seat), that it would be so much better to be the eldest and get all that attention.
Axl admits that if he had “turtled like that” he would have made their mother home-school him. But, “You’re weird. You don’t give up. It’s kind of almost impressive. You’re like some kind of dork optimist.”
Frankie tells us that that was the nicest thing Axl had ever said to her.
It’s nice to hear that he admires Sue’s spirit. And no one could call Sue a coward, that’s for sure.
But still, it’s a big thing. As annoying as he might find her at times, what he admits in this scene is so much bigger than that.
Well, Sue refuses to give up, newly inspired by Axl’s talk, and gets her commute down perfect to the smallest detail, even wearing goggles so she won’t get sawdust in her eyes as she walks through shop. And she finds, to her pleasant surprise, that there is no more PDA couple in front of her locker. And so she is able to put away her books and not turtle again.
But it’s because Axl has just given them a good talking to: “Losers! This is someone’s locker! Go do it under the bleachers like normal people.”Awwwwww. “Someone’s locker.” Sue’s locker! (I’m impressed he even knew where it was. I’m impressed he even knew she was having that problem.)
So, a pretty squeeworthy episode overall, even if Axl does spend part of it very annoyed with her. The fact that she annoys him doesn’t bother my shipping. She annoys her parents sometimes, and no one is going to love her more than they will. And Sue may not get annoyed by Axl the same way that Sue annoys him, but he’s no walk in the park either. And Sue does need to mellow a little bit. Like in the camping episode with all of her questions – it really was ridiculous. And when she was talking about high school at the beginning of this one – frosh this and frosh that. She needed to chill. But most of the time I don’t think she’s annoying at all, and Axl is really only pretending because he’s the obnoxious one and likes bickering with her. They might argue over chores, or want to watch different things on TV, and Sue might be a little embarrassing and occasionally overly-peppy, but overall I don’t think Axl’s got a lot of cause for complaint. If he fights with Sue, it’s because he likes it, not because that’s what he’s got to do in order to get his way from time to time.
Just a note: Chord Overstreet from Glee guest stars as Brick’s teacher in this episode. He looked so good. I hope he comes back.In 3.06 Bad Choices, the financial problems of the Hecks come to a bit of a head, and Mike and Frankie are seduced by the easy living of the renter. They go to check out some new apartments, and Frankie is sort of taken. But none of the kids want to move. As the parents are more and more pleased, Sue gets worried. She turns to her brother and says, “Axl, do something.”
It struck me in two ways: 1) very wife-like. I mean, Sue and Axl can’t compete with Carly and Spencer in terms of acting like husband and wife. But they have had a few very small moments that seemed to parallel the matrimonial dynamic. Isn’t that exactly what a wife might say to a husband? There’s just so much in that little request: a) mutual interests. Sue’s phrasing and tone indicate that what’s going wrong is bad for both her and the person she is speaking to. b) trust. Her request indicates that she believes her command will be obeyed. There’s a sense of acting in tandem. c) familiarity. Her language is not courteous. There’s also her body language. There’s intimacy to her motion, even if they weren’t too close to each other. So, yeah, a lot of stretching going on here, but I didn’t want to say it was wife-like and then just leave you hanging.
2) It reminded me of a scene from Cadavres. Now, I realize that I keep saying that things remind me of things like that’s proof of there being more to the scene than what’s right before us. And I suppose, in a way, I do feel like that. But my point here is stronger than any of the ones I’ve made before. Or failed to make before, as you may see it. I don’t know if you’ve read the entry I made on Cadavres, and you almost certainly haven’t seen the movie. But it’s about Raymonde and his sister Angele, and they have a sort of on-again off-again incestuous relationship. But they’re at home together and they have these guests over, and the guests come in the house, and they’re covered in raw sewage, and the wallpaper is literally beginning to peel, and Angele turns to Raymonde and says, “Fait quelque chose.”
So the scenes are clearly…
I’m going to translate.
She says, “Do something.”
And it’s very similar, because she excludes the others from the conversation and whispers only to Raymonde the exact (sort of) same words that Sue said. And, like I mentioned, this is an incestuous relationship. Raymonde and Angele have that dynamic, and this is how they behave.
OK, I’m done.
But not with the scene, ha ha!
It’s sweet that she’s scared and she’s turning to her big brother. And he comforts her. He says that if their Dad isn’t interested it won’t happen, and that they once looked at a sandwich shop because Frankie thought she could run it.
Axl has words of comfort often enough. Remember when I said that Sue thought youth groups were for losers (at least going to a youth group party on Halloween)? Well her mom was going to make her go, and Axl, even though he was about to make fun of her for the irony of what she had said, instead told her that their mom would eventually get tired of driving her and she wouldn’t have to go anymore. (By the way, Sue ended up loving the youth group and youth groups are not for losers!)
They end up not moving to the apartment because they love their neighbors.
Seemed kind of tacked on, actually. Not that I wasn’t for keeping the house, of course.
And this isn’t much of anything at all, but in 3.10 Thanksgiving III, we finally got some fun sleeping arrangements. FINALLY.Staying at Frankie’s mom’s house, all five Hecks are on sleeping mattresses in one room. Well, Brick has a couch. I’d probably rather have an air mattress.Sue’s not in bed, but it’s obvious which one is hers. Then, mysteriously, Axl and Sue do a sexy mattress swap:Entanglement could very well have happened.
In 3.11 The Christmas Gift, Axl works alongside Bob at a Christmas Tree farm. Bob is desperately lonely all of the time, and always looking for someone to just be his friend. Since he and Axl had a good time working together, he kind of goes overboard on the friend thing at the Hecks’ Christmas party. Axl is trying to get somewhere with a girl he invited to the party, but Bob keeps interrupting him. So finally Axl tells him off. He then takes this girl into Sue’s room to make out.…?
Charlie McDermott making out with random blonde girl in Sue’s bedrooom: GIFfed for your pleasure:But he sees Bob outside the window angrily beating their snowman (which stands strong because it was filled with boulders to save it from the Glossners). Axl tries to keep making out with the girl, but he can’t do it.He goes outside and makes nice with Bob. He totally just leaves the girl in the lurch.I was going to have a lovely time thinking about Axl looking at all of Sue’s stuff while he made out with this girl, but what actually happened was so much better.
Bob can be super annoying, but I just have such a heart for people who are lonely. There’s nothing that’s worse. Nothing. I don’t think I need to tell anyone that. We all know what it feels like to be lonely. But oh, poor Bob! Axl called him a loser, and Bob really is a loser and knows it, so all the more reason NOT to say it. But Axl makes him feel better.
1.12 Year Of The Hecks (which was actually the first episode I saw from start to finish) has Sue, instead of trying out for something, making up to her own team of wrestlerettes, which apparently they had at the middle school but not the high school. Carly has no interest it would seem, but one of the girls who does try out is Weird Ashley. I didn’t mention it when it happened towards the end of the second season, but Axl accidentally invited her to prom by text. He was “too sensitive” to tell her to her face that he wasn’t going to take her, and Frankie kept trying to get him to do the right thing and take her. Eventually he did come around, thanks to Sue’s youth group mentor Reverend Tim Tom who always knows just what to say. If Axl can take Weird Ashley to prom I sort of feel like he can handle having Sue at school with him.
Anyway, weird Ashley *is* weird – even Frankie felt kind of bad for making Axl take her after meeting her. But guess what? She likes Phineas and Ferb. In fact, she was going to quit wrestlerettes because it interfered with her watching Phineas and Ferb.I can’t believe it but we’ve finally reached the most recent episode: 1.13 The Map. Aunt Ginny has died, and the Hecks are driving home from the service. They begin talking about what is going to be done with their bodies after they die, and Axl wants his head frozen. Then he starts talking about cutting Sue’s head off and putting it onto another body. Sue becomes very alarmed, she truly seems to believe he’ll do this, and tries to get her parents to forbid it. Brick says that he’ll make sure it doesn’t happen. Awww, Brick. But as they begin to reminisce a little bit, they get sad. Sue says, “Everyone is staying right here, exactly as they are, forever.” It reminded me a bit of their hug in the camping episode. Awwwwwww. And I don’t think Sue was just saying that, I think there’s a part of her that really wants that. Which means no Axl moving out. No Axl getting married.
The plotline that the title refers to – the map – is absolutely hilarious. Brick’s project is that he has to make a map of Indiana for school. He makes one out of a not-quite-food breadstuff that Axl eats.So Axl is charged with helping Brick make a new one. They decide to make it out of brownie mix:
Then they try to make it out of pizza. That doesn’t work out too well either, you can imagine.
This is the episode where that wrestler – his name is Matt – makes a grand gesture of his love for Sue. Again, it was ridiculously sweet. But we got to get rid of this guy! (LOL)
Well, there’s a new episode this Wednesday. Yay! I can’t wait to have more.
So, I looked for fanfic. In fact I was downright desperate for fanfic.
Not only could I not find any Axl/Sue stories (and honestly I didn’t have much hope of that), but there is literally not a single The Middle story out there.
So, I’d like to write an Axl/Sue story, but the creative juices are not flowing. I have all the inspiration I need, I just don’t have any good ideas. And if this is going to be the first “published” fanfic for The Middle – that’s a lot of pressure. Now add in the fact that it’s going to be an incest fic, and that half the people who see it exists are going to roll their eyes and be like, “Those flippin’ (see what I did there?) shippers! Can’t even watch a family show without making up some crack ship. Can’t even watch a young man and a young woman interact without wanting them to hook up, even if they’re brother and sister.”
And they’re going to judge my story all that much harder. So there’s so much pressure to write a good one that isn’t cliché. One that’s smart, and true to the show and the characters, but without relying on tired motifs.
I’m going to try. I am NOT making any promises.
Have you seen Little Miss Sunshine? If you haven’t, shame on you and see it right now because it’s a wonderful movie, and bring your tissues. Now, I don’t ship the siblings in that movie, for a lot of reasons, but probably starting with the fact that the sister is like 9. (Abigail Breslin is looking quite beautiful these days. Did you see her in New Year’s Eve? They grow up so fast!)
She is a little awkward, and overweight, and she wants to win a beauty pageant, and her dance number is to “Super Freak”. And her brother (he’s much older, like 17), doesn’t want to go in and watch because he doesn’t want to see all those people judging her. He knows that she’s amazing and they’ll never understand because she’s not normal.
So, I kind of want to get those feelings revved up, if I were to do a fanfic. Hmmm, maybe a beauty pageant?
I like this.
These are my instructions for you: 1) watch The Middle, 2) ship Axl and Sue, 3) write me a fabulous fanfic for them. A shipper cannot live on what she has written alone.
ETA: I have written and completed an Axl/Sue story, which you can find here.
I am so glad that I could do this entry just because there is NOTHING out there for Axl/Sue. If someone shipped them, they would be very, very alone. Bob alone. And if search engines do their job, anything in anything about Axl and Sue and incest will surely bring them here. Come to me. I’ll take thee away, into a land of enchantment.As a trailerblazer of Axl/Sue shipping, I suppose it is up to me to come up with a ship name. Ship names frustrate me, but as I explained before, I also love them because they can make searching much easier. If you have a ship name that is unlike anything else, then when you search for that ship name everything that will come up will be relevant. And searching for Axl is frustrating because you mostly get Axl Rose stuff, and searching for The Middle is an exercise in frustration.
So, I’m looking at Heckcest. I think I prefer that. It makes it clear that you ship them romantically and aren’t just talking about their brother-sister relationship. It’s also kind of got a ring to it, with the assonance. And it’s unique. Perfectly unique. And combining the names Sue and Axl is kind of a nightmare. I like that you can make sex though. Sueax looks like a French word. Sueaxl. Suax. Suaxl. Saxl. Saxl might work. Unfortunately it seems to be a relatively popular last name.
I wouldn’t dare create a ship name for Eden Sher and Charlie McDermott. But how do you like McShermott? I’m tagging this with McShermott.
Before I leave off, a few more pictures of Charlie McDermott and Eden Sher that I had to include:
ETA: Check out the comments section for great discussion and a list of fic recs!