Prepare To Be Sued And Axed In THE MIDDLE

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 nick 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 (and only when that’s an accurate description).

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.


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), 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, the mom was the wife from Everybody Loves Raymond, 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 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.

Wait, you what? You ship us? Us?

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.

The Middle is a family 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, although I think it’s pretty cool, actually): 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.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.

Promising, right?

I mean, you can’t really ask for much more than that.


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 because I don’t want to be hufrtful, 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, Axl, and Brick aren’t the sharpest knives in the cutlery block, if you know what I mean.

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 starving, 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 real.

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/Washington D.C. 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. He left it, though. *LOL*

I also like how much this show picks on its characters. They’re weak. Selfish. They fail. They try too hard. 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 inelegant. 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. But it’s appropriate for the show.

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). 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.)

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 pat on the shoulder.

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.  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 (not that I think all relationships should be that way) – 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.

And I feel like, in a way, they are the only ones who could really see the other one for exactly who they were. Axl has such a persona, and Sue’s so invisible. But not at home.

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. Though it really depends how long the show goes on for and how much advance notice there is of the show ending.

Axl and Morgan. The perfectest kiss with the wrongest girl. How did they eve fjalfjdsjkn? The perfection of this kiss takes my words away.

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.

Moises Arias as Matt in The Middle episode 3.13 the map

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 sometimes 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!

I want to talk about the actors just for a minute.

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?

It’s nice knowing the actors are older, especially when you’re dealing with characters who are only in their early teens.

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:

Axl is sexy.




Eden sure is, though!

Since we’re on the subject of shipping Eden and Charlie…I can think of two people who seem very comfortable chilling in the same trailer:

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. (Not that it necessarily means what it looks like it means.) 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.

Look at this cuteness:

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 don’t have anything like that going for them.

Like normal teenagers, they spend most of their time with their friends. Sue has Carly and Brad (her gay ex boyfriend):Axl has Sean Donahue from across the street and Darrin  :

They are written as a typical sitcom 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.

She’s All That is probably the best example.

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.

That’s how special Sue Heck is.

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.

Oh well.

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 (pretty sure it was the former) 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.) But these shows aren’t really coded as cool or classy.

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?


That’s something.

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.

Sue’s rockin’ the cute. Not so much the hot.

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.

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 (because I like being alone a lot). 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.

You can imagine that Axl is the type to make a mockery of this sort of proceedings. Mike is skeptical as well, but he at least plays along. A little.

Well, Sue is to Axl’s left, so Frankie says, “Axl do your sister.”

Giggles, right?

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.

So, Axl groans, and turns to Sue, who smiling expectantly, very excited that Axl has been forced to pay her a compliment.And Axl says, “Your head is basically the right size for your body.”

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?”

“No,” Axl says, “It’s everything below your head that’s the problem.”I wonder if he would have plugged in that insult if Sue hadn’t been mistakenly flattered.

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 was 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.

Just saying.

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.”

Mike sees how dejected Frankie is, so decides that they are all going to go outside and play touch football.


Just kidding. That’s not a point.

“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.

It’s starts out a little rough, but once it becomes kids vs. parents, they have a great time.

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.

Axl is excited about it.

Couldn’t wait to get his hands on her.

After they play, they all come in and have desert together. Check out at the way Axl is looking at Sue:Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I mean, just look at that!

Well, the kids have so much fun, that they want to play every single night.

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.

End episode.

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.

Sometimes his clothes just come off almost magically, and can then be used as weapons:




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, 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 it’s just good stuff.

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.

We did get this:Close up!But…we do get a bonus: Axl is shirtless. Granted, he’s wrapped up in a blanket.Whatever.

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. I forget mys statistics, but there’s a pretty good chance Axl and Sue will be side by side.

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.

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. 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.

Axl has some great lines in this episode. As they’re standing around it, he says, “I had the lowest of expectations and I am still disappointed.”

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.

But this place was disgusting.No place would ever be this bad and still be in business in the United States.

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.

All I can say is: I was shorted!

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.

Look at the way she clings to Brick while they’re watching the scary movie:If only she had been watching it with Axl! (ooh, plot bunny)

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… (Sorry, that was a long paragraph just for that.)

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 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.

The episode concludes with a scene of them at the table. Sue and Axl are all over each other. Like get a room already!SEASON TWO

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, because she thinks she has a chance.

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 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.

I don’t have any pictures for this next section, so you’re going to be treated to a puppy-edition cute overload.

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.

I’m not even sure what else to say about it. It doesn’t even need commentary.

But you’re not that lucky – you’re getting commentary anyway.

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? Where is this person’s family?”

But The Middle is truly phenomenal: every member of the extended family is a recurring character – Mike’s father, Mike’s brother, Frankie’s parents, Frankie’s sister, Frankie’s aunts!

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.

They come up with a plan to defend the igloo, and there is much celebration when they are victorious.I love seeing them behave like kids. They are 14 and 16. But not here.

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 she 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 because of the wall.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!

Axl has a new girlfriend – they’ve only been together for a week – but he has to get her a present, so he asks his mother to take him shopping and help him out.

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:

Mom! I thought we talked about this!

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 that it’s supposed to be paralleling a date and this all one giant incest joke. 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.

And Axl’s just like, “Uh, yeah, we both live here, remember?”

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.

I just amuse myself. Obviously these aren’t incestuous feelings we’re talking about. This isn’t Boardwalk Empire.

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.

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.

Axl and Sue are sitting next to each in coach after Brick is awarded the first class seat for not causing a public disturbance like his siblings.

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.

Axl, as he realizes the irony of what he just said.

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!

So, QED?


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. (Some things never change…)

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.

And then Axl says, “Do you know what? I kinda want to go to New York.”And at first Sue just stares at him in disbelief.

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”.

Yeah right.

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.

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. (As adorable as she is.)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…

They also did one of those old-timey photos:

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.

Right?So, how about a random Atticus, Eden, and Charlie spam?SEASON THREE

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.

The Hecks go on a camping trip.

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.

Camping is Mike’s idea, and no one else is thrilled about it, although Frankie is firmly in support of the idea that a family vacation was needed before the kids went back to school.

Sue is about to start high school, and she has been pestering Axl with questions. LOTS of questions. She wanted to know whether they read the announcements before or after the pledge of allegiance.

So Axl is sort of at his wits end with Sue in this episode.

He tells her 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 food, 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.

Axl 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?

Frankie: “He’s angry!” Mike: “Give him the girl.” Frankie: “Please take our daughter, to do with what you will.”

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.

When they return home, they’re all very close and don’t want to leave each other.

They have a big hug on the front porch before they all leave for their first day back. And they all smile at each other.

And Axl and Sue just have their hands all over each other. Just look:What the heck (pun!) is that?

And Brick says he wishes he was coming to school with Sue and Axl, and Sue says, “Us too, Brick. Us too.”And Frankie says, “I miss you already.” And they all seemed to agree.

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.

And Sue’s got this whole Lady Heck, Mistress of The Car thing going on.

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.

Axl has some complaints:And then she tells their parents about this system for them to be able to check their students’ grades, and that’s kind of a final straw for him.

“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?”

I guess Sue and I share similar ideas of how much space she should be giving him.

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 she tips over.

And everyone saw, and they took pictures, and they called her turtle girl.

Of course this made Axl even more ashamed. Sue saw him and asked for his help and he just walked away.


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?”

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:

I’m getting head or you’re walking the rest of the way.

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 says that maybe being invisible is a good thing. Because Sue wants people to notice her, she just keeps trying. It’s made her accomplished (sort of), and determined (definitely) – my elaboration.

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.

And it’s all on Sue’s face.

It’s nice to hear that he admires Sue’s spirit. And no one could call Sue a coward, that’s for sure.

Of course, during this conversation Sue tries to crawl back up into the seat and Axl tells her “not yet”.

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.

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…

Just kidding.

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 FYI youth groups are not for losers! I was in youth group all through middle school and high school and I loved it. Though I was really lucky and they were a great group of folks.)

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, Frankie’s co-worker, 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.…?

Damn you, Charlie McDermott, and your perfect kissing stances

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, you should. It’s such an amazing movie. Bring your tissues. The main character (played by Abigail Breslin) 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.

I’m also feeling some kind of shower kink. Might have been related to this scene from 1.04 The Trip:

How random is that? Brick couldn’t wait until Axl’s shower was over?

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 one of the trailerblazers 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:

This is my favorite of her. The hair, the white clothing. It’s just lovely.

ETA: Check out the comments section for great discussion and a list of fic recs! Also checkout! There’s lots of great posts and an Axl/Sue episode guide.

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48 Responses to Prepare To Be Sued And Axed In THE MIDDLE

  1. Beast of the Sea says:

    *facepalm* Er, on the step-siblings front, did I ever recommend the “The Royal Tannenbaums”? Because if I didn’t, I’m a royal idiot (pun not intended).

    “I won’t point out that now he’s actually discussing her body. ”
    *snerk* Yes, the obvious counterattack is “And WHY have you studied my body so much?”

    Regarding the ‘sleeping-together-on-the-couch’ scene – am I the only one who thinks Axl and Sue are going through the stereotypical ‘Who IS this strange person in my bed?’ waking-up-after-a-drunken-night scene? (And then, after a few seconds of seeing it’s his sister, Axl looks away in horror…)

    “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. ”
    You weren’t the only one – before I scrolled down to see your comment, I was thinking of suggesting, if you’re out of plot-bunnies, some sort of AU where the kids are separated from their parents and Axl and Sue take on the role of Brick’s parents. Due to the discrepancy between the real-world age of the actors and the supposed ages of their characters, it doesn’t look half as odd as it should, especially as Brick’s actor is a bit short.

    “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.”
    Not quite wife-like… but pre-ship behavior, yes. I could rattle off a few ships – Yusuke/Keiko (Yu Yu Hakusho), Hermione/Ron (though this part of the subtext could either go towards Harry or Ron), (on the slash side) Albus Dumbledore/Gellert Grindelwald, pretty much any ship where a villain is redeemed by the love of a good character – but I think you get the point. *whistles innocently*

    “Look at the way she clings to Brick while they’re watching the scary movie: […] If only she had been watching it with Axl! (ooh, plot bunny)”
    *snerk* This is an amusing example of actor-script dissonance, in that Brick looks like he’s having the time of his life when he’s supposed to be frightened out of his mind. Anyway…

    “My god, Axl! Did you see that? It just tore her head off!”

    “That IS scary – how’d a movie with this budget manage to have such cheap special effects?”

    Sue smacked Axl on the shoulder, then resumed clinging to him while he nonchalantly ate popcorn.

    “Oh no!” Sue gasped as the camera panned to reveal the blood-soaked remains of the former love-interest. “Poor Frankie!”

    “Those inhuman monsters! Look at all that wasted ketchup!”

    This earned him a rather harder smack on the shoulder, but he only smirked.

    “What are the symptoms, doctor?” the heroine breathlessly asked, her bosom heaving. Sue and Axl sat up straight, giving the screen their undivided attention, though for rather different reasons.

    “The physical imitation is almost flawless – it is nearly impossible to tell from mere visible signs – but they have never truly learned to duplicate a human.” The wearied old doctor dramatically paused.

    “He’s one of them, I’m calling it,” Axl whispered in Sue’s ear. “Just look at that ridiculous acting – twitching all the time and-”


    “A near-total disregard for the feelings of others,” the doctor said in his trembling voice. “Utter hatred for those of us who walk upon this earth. A violent aversion to clothing -”

    “Hey, what the hell?” Axl complained as Sue nearly threw him off the couch in her haste to shuffle as far away from him as possible. “What’s your problem? You made me spill my popcorn!”

    “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.”
    One could probably argue for a platonic version of that, wherein he does want to show affection for his sister but can’t, due to macho repression about showing his feelings/awkwardness/worry that it would destroy his sarcastic and callous persona/etc. (The advantage of arguing for the “platonic” connection that two members of a ship have is that, due to the weird stigma shipping sometimes has, people will agree with you that a moment shows platonic affection between the two characters, but say it doesn’t mean anything at all, even platonic affection, if you approach it from the shipping perspective. *shrugs* )

    But yes, you could also take it from the shipping perspective.

    “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.”
    To really, really, REALLY reach – I suppose this is the start of Axl realizing ‘What? My little sister has hormones?’, which I suppose COULD be used as the jumping-off point for seeing her as somebody who can have relationships and the slooooow development of feelings in a fic… Of course, any older brother would probably be surprised and alarmed that his little sister is getting crushes on people and feel protective, so that’s not subtext. (Then again, J.K. Rowling abuses the non-sibling version in HBP, what with the infamous Chest Monster, Hermione blowing a gasket when Ron starts dating, etc.)

    *pulls out battered copy of HBP and flips through it for a while* Ah, HERE’S the quote I was looking for!
    Harry lay awake for a long time, looking up at the canopy of his four-poster and trying to convince himself that his feelings for Ginny were entirely elder-brotherly. They had lived, had they not, like brother and sister all summer, playing Quidditch, teasing Ron, and having a laugh about Bill and Phlegm? He had known Ginny for years now. …It was natural that he should feel protective… natural that he should want to look out for her… want to rip Dean limb from limb for kissing her… No…. he would have to control that particular brotherly feeling…
    (Chapter 14, Felix Felicis)
    I… ehem… decline to comment. Harry, it takes effort to sound like you’re starring in an incest ship when the girl in question isn’t even your sister.

    “She says to him, “He’s your brother, Mike, your partner for life.””
    Oh, good grief! And… yes, you’re right, this is really interesting that the show’s so family-centric. Even Harry Potter doesn’t quite emphasize family to this extent… if someone told a random sibling pair in HP that, it’s about even odds that the two would take one look at each other and run away screaming. 😛

    Obviously, the family-centric part has nothing to do with incest whatsoever – save that, when you take a bunch of scriptwriters who are *probably* more used to writing romances than really strong family relationships and have them write nothing but strong family relationships (and failed romantic relationships), they’ll probably slip up from time to time.

    “(Just look at the BS coming out of my fingers. It’s like being back in college.)”
    XD I know the feeling.

    ““If I had kissed you, I’d probably go into hiding too.””
    PFFT! I wrote that bit about the writers forgetting what they’re supposed to be doing above, and it was apparently prescient!

    “[The Frankie/Axl date]”
    …O_o >_O Or maybe they aren’t forgetting, but rather, like Anne Rice, prefer mother/son incest to brother/sister incest. Urgh. That is going a little beyond the bounds of good taste.

    On the other hand… um, since the show has already gone there, pseudo-Axl/Sue-date plot bunny? Like, after Sue massively fails at dating just as much as she fails at everything else, Axl has had enough and offers to run through a full date with her just to show her how it’s done?

    I must admit, I really don’t see much subtext around the bear incident – sounds like Axl being sarcastic as usual. I might just be missing context, though. I’d think that something having more to do with sex would go like this:
    Axl: *in a solemn voice* And so it was that, when the daughter of the Heck family came into the flower of her womanhood, the Bear God would come down from the mountain and demand that the virgin be sacrificed unto him –
    Frankie: Axl! You know we can’t do anything of the sort!
    Axl: *horrified* She’s not a virgin?!

    “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.”
    …Okay, um… wow. That’s fairly impressive, all right…

    “I mean I know she’s supposed to look angry. But I’m getting more of a “lets-have-angry-sex” vibe. ”
    Again, not getting much of a vibe here, sorry… but if I was, I’d say more of a “Make me have tardies, will you? Well, let’s see what they think of your swerving clean off the road and into a lamppost when I do THIS…” vibe. 😛


    Anyway, good post! I admit that I don’t really see much solid subtext here, but I’m probably spoiled after the eyebrow-raising moments for Spencer/Carly and the utter shamelessness of The Fades. If Axl and Sue weren’t siblings, Axl/Sue would probably be the predominant bad-boy (yes, I know Axl isn’t really a bad boy, but fandom will be fandom) ship, true, but probably wouldn’t show up, freshly-married, in the “Where Are They Now?” epilogue.

    Still, fandom would write endless fanfiction stories of dubious quality in which Axl didn’t see Sue for a while, only for her to come back as a hyper-popular, sexy, sultry vixen with a suspicious resemblance to the author’s idealized self-insert. 😛

    “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.””
    😛 You must see a different side of fandom than I do, because the complaint I’m used to seeing is about those Darned Slash Shippers who can’t even see two young men being within the same hundred miles without wanting them to hook up.

    “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.”
    Mm… trying to figure out appropriate time frame here…
    So… several years down the line, methinks? Selecting the ages 16 for Sue & 18 for Axl gives both raging hormones and worrying from Sue because Axl’s going to college soon and leaving the family…
    Would it be a tired motif if Axl was acting desperate to leave the home because (consciously or unconsciously) he’s trying to escape the odd feelings for his sister that he can’t face up to and can’t keep off his mind?
    Brick’s enough of a weird kid that you could probably have him play matchmaker, in a pinch…

    “I don’t see why the two of you are acting so weird,” Brick complained as he threw his backpack down. “I mean, everyone knows that you love each other (love each other),” he mumbled.

    “Well – he’s just – I mean, I try, but – he’s just such an ass!” Sue exclaimed, throwing up her hands. “I mean, a sister can only do so much -” She looked back to see Brick frowning and shaking his head.

    “I don’t mean like a brother and sister (brother and sister),” Brick said slowly. “Kind of more like a boyfriend and girlfriend -”

    At first Sue thought boyfriend and girlfriend had echoed in her head, like something out of a cliched TV show, but then realized it was just Brick mumbling to himself. Not that it made much of a difference. Putting one hand to her forehead, her thoughts in chaos, she said, “Brick, um – I need to be alone for a while. All right?”

    Brick looked after her, frowning, as she ran to her room and left her drink behind on the table, then turned away and shrugged. “She’s weird (very weird),” he said to the empty room after a few seconds.

    “Thank you too much,” she said behind him as she picked her drink up and dashed back to her room.

    “You’re welcome (welcome).”
    [I have no idea if I got the speech patterns correct, so it obviously needs adjustment to fit.]

    As far as being true to the show goes, you could have them get into one zany incident after the other that throws them closer together, then have them break down when they think they’re about to die, confess their love, and manage to pull out of the first kiss the instant before the rescue party shows up. Or, alternatively, you could just have them get caught far from home without the parents to intervene (or Frankie to act as the romantic rival *turns green*)…

    AU Final Episode
    Chapter Summary: Due to insane weather conditions causing their return flight from the University of Washington to be rerouted, Axl and Sue find themselves stranded in snowed-in Spokane, with nothing better to do than throw snow at each other, eat at the local Denny’s, and try to patch up their sibling relationship before Axl leaves for college for good. But will more come of this than either is expecting?

    (The basic idea is a tad autobiographical – my parents and I did get stranded in Spokane for three days due to a massive snowstorm, and ended up simply driving all the way down to Seattle because there were no signs of getting a flight out of there any time soon. I only specify the location because I have no experience with reroutings other than that… but as a bonus, if they wound up in Seattle for any reason, you could have an iCarly cameo, right?)

    Anyway, your fic – I’m just throwing out plot bunnies. (These little buggers breed like you wouldn’t believe! :P) I don’t have any good names for the ship, since the only one I can think of that you haven’t listed is Axsue, to which the only proper response is “Gesundheit!” -_-;; The H.M.S. Lumberjack Lawyers (We’ll ax you AND sue you!) oddly appeals to me, though…

    Well, good luck! (And thanks for writing this post! Glad to see you’re alive!)

    Liked your recent Ryan/Sharpay fics on AO3!

    In SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/etc. news, SOPA and PIPA have been shelved, but ACTA (in the EU) is still a possibility. *sigh* This is utter lunacy. *checks* Oh ****! From Tumblr:
    “ACTA is actually worldwide!

    The negotiating parties include: Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. And according to Wikipedia of all these participants only The EU, Mexico, and Switzerland have yet to sign!!!”
    (/signal boost) Ah, crap… here’s hoping this gets shot down, too, because things will be going straight to hell if it doesn’t. *sigh*

    In brighter news – for lack of personal recommendations – TV Tropes’ pages for Brother Sister Incest and Incest Subtext are MUCH longer than I remembered (Brother Sister Incest has a separate page for each media format now!), so you can go browsing there. In particular, it mentioned a fic called In Fire, In Ice (Alex/Justin) for Wizards of Waverly Place, which is apparently a fandom favorite. Here’s the link: Have fun!

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I’m pretty sure you did mention The Royal Tenenbaums, though I can’t remember where. I saw it years ago. It’s about time I rewatched. I’ll appreciate it more now, because I wasn’t as much of a sibling shipper then.

      I’m going to use what you said, I think. I’ll have Axl make fun of Sue’s body in some way in my fanfic, and she can say back to him, “And WHY have you studied my body so much?” It is the perfect counterattack.

      Regarding the ‘sleeping-together-on-the-couch’ scene – am I the only one who thinks Axl and Sue are going through the stereotypical ‘Who IS this strange person in my bed?’ waking-up-after-a-drunken-night scene? (And then, after a few seconds of seeing it’s his sister, Axl looks away in horror…)

      If they were a bit older and had been through something like that it would be even better. But definitely not only you – that’s the main reason I made the GIFs for that scene because that’s exactly the expressions on their faces and the motions they go through with their heads. I’m glad you saw it too, even if it was all coincidental.

      I love the idea of a fanfic where the kids are separated from their parents and Sue and Axl take care of Brick like parents. I like that with every ship that involves a much younger sibling. I can see Sue coddling Brick all the time and Brick growing annoyed with it, and then Axl rolling his eyes until Brick is actually in danger and then becoming an emotional wreck.

      You’re right – that trying-to-get-them-to-be-a-better-person isn’t just wife-like, it’s very unestablished-relationship behavior. I can certainly see the Ron/Hermione parallel. I almost brought up some of the similarities between the two pairings, but Hermione has a fierceness that Sue lacks and I didn’t want to distort the picture of Sue and Axl. When Hermione calls Ron “Ronald” and critiques him, it reminds me A LOT of what I was trying to say about that scene in particular where Sue is displeased with Axl’s actions, not because they have hurt her, but because they were wrong.

      I LOVED that little ficlet of Sue and Axl watching a movie. It was perfect. Even if Axl was scared, he would totally tease Sue for being scared just like that. And then her pulling away from him! That might make it into my fic as well, if you don’t mind.

      Axl’s unconsummated hug could definitely be platonic, of course. Well, is platonic, realistically speaking. But you make such a good point about arguing for the platonic version in order to get support when it might be denied to a shipper. If you just say, “It really looks like Axl wants to hug his sister but never really gets a chance here,” – who is going to say “I disagree” to something innocent like that?

      That quote from Harry Potter was the best. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the books. It does sound like Harry wants to star in an incest ship. Ideally, Axl’s mind would progress exactly what way. Sue did date before, but like everyone else except for Sue and her boyfriend, knew that her boyfriend was gay. He’d have no reason to feel too jealous. And the other guy – the one she kissed on Halloween – the only time we see her bring it up in Axl’s presence, he makes a joke about kissing her himself.

      You know, even though I wrote all about that “partner for life” quote, I never really considered what various people and characters would think if you ever said that to them. It’s quite an amusing activity. Of course you had to bring up Harry Potter, which made me think of Fred and George…BE STRONG. NO TEARS.

      Obviously, the family-centric part has nothing to do with incest whatsoever – save that, when you take a bunch of scriptwriters who are *probably* more used to writing romances than really strong family relationships and have them write nothing but strong family relationships (and failed romantic relationships), they’ll probably slip up from time to time.

      So true. That’s where I get all of my material!  Thank God for such slip-ups. Of course, even when they don’t exactly slip-up, you’ll still get a lot of shippers with really strong family relationships. Like Sam and Dean from Supernatural – considering those brothers really are partners for life, I think it’s remarkable how the writers manage to write a relationship that isn’t like a dating or a marriage relationship. Doesn’t mean you don’t have masses shipping it.

      Gosh, all of these fic ideas! I love Axl doing a run through date with Sue. It’s brilliant. The practice kiss is sort of cliché by now, but the practice date is so new and has so many possibilities. I might write it. If I don’t lose the inspiration, then it’s definitely happening. I think I’ll set it in the future, though. In their 20’s. It could go either way. Maybe two of them each set at a different time?

      I admit that I don’t really see much solid subtext here, but I’m probably spoiled after the eyebrow-raising moments for Spencer/Carly and the utter shamelessness of The Fades.

      Yeah, I figured that would sort of be the case, which is why I tried to not get anyone’s hopes up. The “utter shamelessness” of The Fades – I love that. It’s true – I’ve spoiled you.

      Still, fandom would write endless fanfiction stories of dubious quality in which Axl didn’t see Sue for a while, only for her to come back as a hyper-popular, sexy, sultry vixen with a suspicious resemblance to the author’s idealized self-insert.

      So true. I’m laughing. When I was sorting through my fanfiction ideas, I was absolutely sure I did not want to make Sue into some ugly duckling who becomes a swan. There might be a scene or two where she dresses up and looks pretty and Axl is impressed, but the fundamental Sue is not changing. In the show there was an episode where she has an expert dress her, and her dad is alarmed because her outfit totally accents all of her curves and she looks normal and she’s going to a party, but just as she’s about to leave she puts on this ridiculous zip-up sweater over everything. That’s just how Sue is. Resistant.

      What I was saying about people getting down on shippers is definitely more true of slash shippers. I get that there are some people who don’t care about the shipping, but I wish they wouldn’t be so judgy about it.

      Lumberjack lawyers? I’m laughing SO HARD right now. Axsue? Gesundheit? That’s genius. Comedic genius. For some reason I didn’t think of putting Axl’s name first, I guess because it started with a vowel. I do like it. Axsue.

      I love all the fic ideas. It’s really helpful. Axl leaving for college is going to be a crucial point. In fact, I’m not sure what they’ll do on the show – he’s a junior right now, so he only has one year left. I did think about Sue coming to stay with him while she toured the school that he goes to.

      You know, you make a really insightful point about Brick being the one who maybe figures it out first. I could totally see that. You got his whispering just right.

      Yes, I’m alive. I didn’t realize how long it had been until I looked and saw that I posted The Fades entry in mid-November! And the sad thing is that I haven’t been up to all that much. Just a little obsessed with shows and things that didn’t really work for this site. And I write really bad entries when I’m obsessed with something else.

      You read the Sharpay and Ryan fics? Oh good. I was going through my fanfic folders, cleaning them out, deleting stories I was never going to finish, and I finally took the time to post all of those. I wrote them almost two years ago. I felt a little silly about that whole little obsession I went through, but I didn’t think the stories were half bad when I read back through them the other day. So I went ahead and put them up.

      I need this whole threatening-legislation thing to be over with. I haven’t used Mega-upload in years, but it scares me that it went down. I signed some petition against ACTA but I haven’t been very involved or informed. There was this funny joke on tumblr about everyone guilty of piracy going to jail together, and everyone being grouped in fandoms like they were prison gangs.

      I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read and comment on these entries. It means so much that you take the time to do it, and I just love having someone to discuss with. I treasure any feedback at all, but you really go above and beyond. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been enjoying this show for a while and I think it unfairly gets a bad rap as people tend to assume it’s just another mediocre family-centric sitcom.

    One note about your analysis: After you meticulously listed almost every notable Axl/Sue interaction I’m surprised you didn’t mention Axl sarcastically professing his love for Sue at the dinner table in one of the Thanksgiving episodes.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Thanks so much for commenting! I love feedback more than anything.

      I agree – I think that people who haven’t seen at least a few episodes and grown to appreciate the characters don’t realize how good the show really is. It’s really too bad. I’m just as guilty as anyone, because that’s pretty much what I thought too – just another family-centric sitcom. And it is, but it’s a good one.

      I know what scene you’re talking about (at least I’m pretty sure), and it’s funny that I actually did bring up the episode – the one where Frankie tells Mike that he needs to work on his relationship with his brother – but never mentioned that moment. Given how good I am at making something out of nothing, I should have gone for it, although I remember thinking when I first saw the scene that Axl saying he loved Brick as well almost immediately afterward really stole the thunder.

      Well, even though it didn’t make it into my actual entry, it’s now here in the comments thanks to you! Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I see your point that Axl mentioning Brick in the scene potentially diminishes the moment, but I think it’s notable that Axl gives Brick and their mother a very impassive response but makes a big exaggerated show of it while addressing Sue. “Sue, oh my god I just love you so much!”

    I think it shows that Axl has a certain insecurity when sharing feelings for Sue, so he goes to extremes to ensure that no one could interpret them as being sincere, which I think is interesting.

    That’s just my two cents.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      FYI to all readers: I posted the scene (which is from episode 2.09 Thanksgiving II) on youtube. I hope they won’t take it down. But for now it’s up. It’s less than a minute long.

      You are absolutely right, Anon. I just went and rewatched the scene, and it’s definitely a notable scene between them. I think the problem was that when I first watched it, I misinterpreted Axl’s dialogue. Brick tells Sue that he loves her, and then Axl that he loves him. And Axl says, “Yeah, I kinda love you, Brick, and Sue, oh my God, I just love you so much.” It’s possible to interpret that for both parts of the sentence – “I kinda love you” and “Oh my God, I just love you so much” – that he’s speaking to both “Brick and Sue”. My mind works in funny ways sometimes and that’s what I did. (Maybe it was just pessimism?) But now that I’ve watched the scene a few times, I’m pretty sure I was wrong, and that he’s saying the first part to Brick and the second part to Sue.

      And now that I’ve got that clear if my mind, it’s like my favorite scene.

      It’s all 100% Axl. He insults both his siblings, first by slighting Brick and then by overdoing his confession of love to Sue to the point that it’s clearly sarcasm – with his “oh my God” and his fake crying. What’s even more characteristic of Axl is that while he, of course, genuinely loves both of them, he’s incapable of seriously saying it.

      And although it’s clear that he’s mocking what’s going on, it stands that he didn’t have say anything at all. When Frankie told him that she loved him, he said “Got it.” But with Brick and especially with Sue he goes all out.

      I also think it’s interesting that Axl looks down at his plate right away and doesn’t even look at Sue. Yeah, ostensibly it’s because he’s apathetic to what’s going on and just wants to eat, but it stood out to me.

      And I really like Sue’s reaction. I’m not even quite sure how to describe it. It’s very quiet and dignified. I think it’s disappointment more than anything else. She’d really hoped she would get more from Axl.

      And it’s pretty funny that Sue is looking at her father and smiling and him, and it totally looks like she’s going to tell him she loves him, but instead she flips her head around and tells Axl that she loves him.

      Thanks for pushing me with that. I can appreciate that scene so much more now. And thanks again for commenting.

      I was so sad there wasn’t a new episode Wednesday night. I had been looking forward to it all week! But I have been working on my fanfic, if anyone is interested.

  4. Sara says:

    Heya! It’s actually the person who recommended the Middle to you 😀 My name is Sara for the record. But I am SO SO SO GLAD you took my advice and watched the show!!! This show is so underrated and unknown, and deserves so much more attention. So I’m glad you gave it a chance just for my sake, even though your mom hated it. Seriously, it means so much.
    And this list you compiled of all their moments singlehandedly made my week. I love all the meaning you put behind their dialogue (I too raised my eyebrows and giggled at “you do Sue”) and just your overall interpretation of the pair. I’ve always felt that one of the best things about Heckcest (hehe) is their ability to see each other’s true selves. You already pointed that out, and in much better phrasing, but I just thought I’d bring it up again.
    I know you mentioned you don’t know much about Eden and Charlie’s relationship in real life, but I can tell you that picture you posted of him with his girlfriend and Eden off to the side pretty much defines their relationship. Eden is clearly in love with Charlie. Poor girl. (Can’t blame her though. Charlie is like perfection. Who wouldn’t wanted to be expertly kissed by him?). I’ve seen interviews, and she pretty much just smiles at him the whole time while he doesn’t make eye contact. I also remember Eden tweeted once that Charlie and some other girl were so cute that she wanted barf all over herself. She doesn’t sound bitter at all *cough*. And she also tweeted a picture of a conversation through texts that she had with Charlie, and he had texted her “whattup bitch?” It made me seriously question Charlie as a person. I feel like he knows Eden loves him and takes advantage of it. I feel like he doesn’t respect her, and that’s not okay. Or he was totally just kidding and I’m blowing it out of proportion. Both possibilities. haha.
    I haven’t read your story yet, but I can’t wait. Also, I will someday write a Heckcest fic, and I can only hope you would read it when I do. It would be the highest of honors. I have the idea in my head, and knownit’s going to be a rather long fic, but I have no time right now to write it. Stupid college. But I’m literally salivating at the day I’ll have time to write my fic. I’ve been mulling over the details for weeks now.
    But that’s irrelevant. I’m off to read your fic (which will blow me away, without a doubt) and am forever eternally grateful for this post ❤ you. are. the. best.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hi Sara!

      I am so glad you found your way back here. More than anyone I, of course, wanted you to see what I had written about Axl and Sue. I had so much fun watching the show and then doing this entry, and I owe it all to you!

      You know, my Mom does dislike the show overall, but I talked to her some more about it, and she loves Axl and Brick. So even she can see it has some great qualities. Now that I’m a big fan, it just kills me when someone says they don’t like it, but it kills me even more when I see that so few people watch it when it’s so good!

      Love the gossip about Eden and Charlie. I haven’t seen any interviews, but I did read one, and even from something written I could tell that Eden seemed pretty sweet and probably a little taken with Charlie, though I don’t like to speculate too much about real people. But then here I am doing it, LOL. As for the “bitch” text, I don’t know what the rest of the conversation was, but I doubt Eden would have tweeted it unless it was all in good fun. From some of the pictures I saw, it looks like they have a lot of fun on set. I’d be surprised if Eden didn’t have a crush on him, because, like you said, who wouldn’t?

      I hope you like the fic. I think you will. But I really hope you do. Please please please give me your honest opinion, because as a fan of the show and of the couple, you’re in a better position than anyone to critique my characterization, etc. And of course I will read yours: I can’t wait! I was dying to read just one story about them and I couldn’t find any. As soon as you find the time, you NEED to do it. Spring break’s coming up, right? (LOL)

      Thanks for commenting. It means that you enjoyed the entry. And I love your enthusiasm – it keeps me doing this blog!

  5. Cassandra says:

    I am so glad you made this wonderfully long post! I thought I was the only one who knew of Axl and Sue! I love them so much! *Spoiler!!!!* just in case. Did you see last night’s episode? Max broke up with Sue and and Axl comforted her sosqueal worthy!!!

    I’ve wanted to write a fanfic for them but since there’s no section for The Middle on I’ve been discouraged… but now I think I will! I’ll be reading your fanfic at work tomorrow and reviewing, maybe we can collaborate?

    my ffnet name is Inulover4eva

    I’m a big incest shipper 🙂

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I’m sure you’ll have seen by now that I replied to you on, but I just want to reiterate how glad I am that we found each other!

      It sucks that there’s no section for The Middle on, but I was still surprised by how many people managed to find the story even though it was buried in Misc. And Archive Of Our Own is another fanfiction archive. It’s not as popular yet, but it does allow you to create your own fandom categories if one doesn’t exist already, unlike Unfortunately there aren’t as many readers or writers there, but I believe it’s growing.

      I’m definitely open to collaborating, but even if that doesn’t end up happening, you should totally write your own!

  6. SdLuna says:

    Well… Already exist a section for The Midddle on -With 2 drabbles of heckcest/axsue.

    I started to watch this show less then 3 weeks ago (I’m a litlle anxious and yesterday reach the last episode released), and love the interaction of the siblings -not just Axl and Sue.
    Even Brick being in his ‘book world’, every time he establishes contact with someone (particularly his siblings) I found cute/funny. He is kind of my new favourite kid character. Buuuut is pretty clear to me that arrangement of Sue and Axl is in another level -one that Brick will never get in.

    Being realistic, the sitcom never will bring such complicated relationship, and maybe the writers/director just like to have fun with the cast interaction, but apart this I love imagine the chemistry of both increasing until a breaking point.

    For record: I’m really not such a review person, but for the difficulty in found something related I feel an obligation in manifest my kind of consensual opinion about this theme.
    Not yet read your fanfic, but I will.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      You’re right – there is a The Middle category on It must be brand new. I just went and changed my story so that it would belong there. Thanks for the notification! I know the author of those drabbles – at least through a bit of messaging – and I’ve been trying to encourage her to write more because I love them and it would be so great to fill up the new Middle section!

      Wow, you watched it about as quickly as I did! It’s always sad to run out of new episodes, isn’t it? At least there’s about four or five more left before it goes on break for the summer.

      I love the interactions with Brick as well. He’s one of the best characters on TV. But yes, I like what you said about Sue and Axl’s interactions being at a level that Brick will never be a part of. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with how young he is, but us shippers can always hope that part of it has do with Sue and Axl having an extra interest in each other. Of course the show would never go there, and I would never expect it to. Even if incest storylines did occur on network TV (which they never do, unless it’s Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit), The Middle is still a comedy, and something so serious would never have a place among such lighthearted content.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to give me some feedback. I love hearing about new people watching the show and shipping Axl and Sue, and it’s wonderful to hear from anyone who has been on the blog. I really do thank you. I hope you enjoy the fanfic – it’s quite long.

      Wasn’t the newest episode just wonderful? The moments between Axl and Sue were perfect!

  7. B says:

    I’m a McShermott shipper, and I was just wondering what you think is going on between them? They’re currently making a film together (maybe an excuse to spend time together when The Middle isn’t filming?), and they seem to be pretty close. He’s also no longer dating Shelby Young. Thoughts?

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Well, that’s interesting new information that I’m very grateful to you for sharing. I can’t wait to see this new movie that they’re in together. It’ll be interesting to see what their chemistry is like when they’re playing different characters (assuming they have scenes together).

      I’m sorry to hear that he’s no longer with his girlfriend if it was a hurtful breakup for them, but I’m also glad because it means we can feel less guilty about shipping “McShermott”. I think the fact that he’s now unattached certainly makes the chances of something of anything happen between the two of them much higher. Unless the whole reason he broke up with her was because of Eden and maybe they’re together already? They would probably try and keep it secret because they’re playing siblings on a TV show, not that that’s forbidden or anything. I know Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Pannetiere dated while they played uncle and niece on Heroes.

      I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the situation to speculate. But I am definitely excited by that news.

      • B says:

        The name of the movie they are filming is “imagiGARY”.

        Also, the other day, Eden Tweeted something about “Mrs. McD”. I’m assuming that’s Charlie’s mom, and that would mean she’s met his parents. I don’t know how significant that is, but it seems kind of cute.

        Also, there is another case of people who play brother and sister on TV currently dating in real life: Lauren Graham and Peter Krause, who play siblings on “Parenthood”. Granted, they’re older than McShermott, but it does happen.

        • Shipcestuous says:

          I looked up a couple of things about imagiGary. It sounds like Charlie McDermott co-wrote it and is one of the driving forces behind the production. That’s really exciting and I think it’s great that he’s branching out from acting. I couldn’t see anything about Eden, but since it’s his creation, I’m sure they must be good friends if she has agreed to play a role in it.

          It is cool that she’s met his mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if she came on set, but if Eden is tweeting about it then they must have hung out a little.

          Now that you mention that about Parenthood, I think I did know it. It’s great to have another example.

          Thanks for all the info! I hope to do another entry on the Middle and some point and I’ll be sure to mention all of it.

          • cassandra says:

            So I found this and apparently Sue is going to play as some drunk girl! lol


            I’ll write more when I get hoem since I’m at work and this long, but very awesome, blog post is killing my computer lol

            • Shipcestuous says:

              Drunk girl! LOL. I can’t wait for this movie. It sounds pretty interesting, obviously low-budget though. I’m sad Eden’s character doesn’t even a name, but at least she’s listed. I’m guessing there will probably be a party or something. I wonder if it’s a full length movie or more of a short?

  8. B says:

    I just wanted you to know that “Imagigary” has a Tumblr (, and that there is a picture on there of Eden, Charlie, and a guy named Brian Dunn. In that picture, Brian is next to Eden and Charlie, who have their arms wrapped around each other. Here’s the direct link:

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Thanks for the news about the tumblr. I’ll have to keep my eye on it and see what else they post. The picture is wonderful – the two of them with their arms around each other! I just wish it was bigger. Like ten times bigger!

  9. lyla says:

    please add some more. i just saw the episode where sue got dumped and axl was really sweet to sue and then the guidance counselor episode sue was telling them she wants to change her name to suki and they way axl looked at her was amazing. i just shipped this so im really craving for more. thank u for taking the time to write about them bc now i have something to fangirl about other than dean/sam/jensen/jared

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I know, I know. I’m sorry! There has been some fantastic Axl/Sue interactions in the second half of the season that really deserve to be chronicled on this blog. I’ve been distracted and busy, and it’s probably only going to get worse, but I’m not done with this blog, I promise.

      I really loved that little part where Sue wants to change her name and Axl just looks at her. There was a lot in his look. It was perfect. And the episode where Sue gets dumped – well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. It just doesn’t.

      I’m super happy to hear about another shipper, though I feel bad for disappointing you by not having any new material. Keep your eye on the fanfic section at though, because some other shippers are regularly publishing new stuff.

      And Dean/Sam shippers are welcome here as well, of course. I mentioned them in one or two articles. It’s hard for me with brother pairings like them and Damon and Stefan on The Vampire Diaries, because I’m not much of a slash shipper, but I also do root for those relationships above all others.

  10. lyla says:

    just found this, idk if u already know this…

    Time 8:20 – 8:50
    Announcement & more giveaways coming up. Traffic. Eden Sher in studio. Clip from The Middle. This is her first ever in-studio radio interview. She grew up in LA, used to be geeky like her character Sue. Listener emailed a photo of his daughter, looks exactly like Sue Heck. Episode w/ Whoopi Goldberg. Usually sticks to the script, but that’s okay b/c the writing is on par. Fake braces for her character, they’re a little irritating. Kung Fu fighting scene. She’s fearless. She wanted to choreograph the fighting scene but it was already planned out. She loved being 10, the unadulterated loving of life, doesn’t have to think about channeling it. She loves seeing girls who look like Sue Heck. Tweet them to her! Co-star has a bone deficiency. Charlie & I are just lazy. She’s legally blind. Preston puts on her glasses, says they’re like magnifying glasses. Preston holds up fingers for her to count. Starting acting at 10, accidentally landed on Jay Leno for a feature. Originally had no intention of acting professionally. She was on Weeds for a while. How do you remember all that dialogue? She memorized the periodic table of elements b/c she was bored, recites it all!! She’d be a great traffic reporter. She wants the Brad storyline on the show to be expanded. She’s starring in Charlie McDermott’s movie, not getting paid for it. Her character is in love w/ his character, kind of incestuous. Wrote & directed a short film in LA called The Suitcase, still needs to edit it though. She should come to the MMRBQ! —-

    highlight on: She’s starring in Charlie McDermott’s movie, not getting paid for it. Her character is in love w/ his character, kind of incestuous.

    i squee 🙂

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hi! Thank you SO MUCH for summarizing that interview. I loved hearing all of that stuff and it was brand new to me. I check out an interview if it comes my way but I haven’t sought them out so I haven’t read/seen much with Eden and Charlie. But I love hearing all of it and I can tell a lot of the people who have checked out this entry I wrote ship Eden/Charlie as well.

      I love that she’s like Sue. Obviously she can look absolutely gorgeous and un-Sue-like sometimes but I had a feeling she a bit more like Sue than most girls typically are. That’s a huge compliment, of course.

      So glad to hear that Eden isn’t even getting paid (obviously she’s doing a favor for him by being in the movie), and that her character currently known as “drunk girl” is IN LOVE WITH HIM. I’m dead right now. Best news we could have ever gotten about this movie. Kind of incestuous – that’s perfect. Just perfect.

      Thanks again!!!!!

    • B says:

      I wonder how much of her character in the movie is acting, and how much is just Eden…

      • Shipcestuous says:

        That’ll be fun to speculate about once we see it. Hopefully she’ll take full advantage of the chance to act with him when she’s not supposed to be pretending that he’s her brother.

  11. Jan says:

    I don’t know if you’d enjoy this, but it’s a series of Axl scenes with his two buddies. It’s actually an acting reel for the guy that plays Darrin, but I just thought it was sweet.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I did enjoy it! Axl is so adorable with his friends. I love both Darrin and Sean so much. It’s too bad, though, that when he’s with his friends he usually doesn’t have any scenes with Sue. I wish we could have both!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed it too, but i didn’t really get the Axl and Sue thing. I mean, i love the show, and i love them, but they’re brother and sister. So… that was a little weird for me 😛 But i might have misunderstood. I only feel the chemistry, because you can see, that the actors are really good friends. But that’s it. However, good writing. 🙂

  13. Joy says:

    LOL, you could always compare them to the Dirty Dancing characters, lol. Nerdy innocent girl gets taken in by the hot, cool oldish guy. :/

  14. Anonymous says:

    OMG I just found out about this website searching “heckcest” on google!
    I adore the two of them together. I’ve been very disappointed at the lack of Axl/Sue fanfiction. I actually read your fanfiction a long time ago and I could only find a couple more (yours was the best though!). I’m so excited about having found this website. I’m a HUGE fan of brother/sister shipping. Thanks for all your amazing posts, specially this one!

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Thank you so much for what you said about my fic!

      Yes, there really is a lack of Axl/Sue fics, isn’t there? The show isn’t very popular among interneters, it would seem. But I feel like a lot more people would ship Axl and Sue if they realized that there was at least a small community for the ship. If they were introduced to the idea.

      I’m so glad you found me, and that you thought to search heckcest. There was NOTHING on the internet for the two of them when I posted this, so I made the decision myself to go with heckcest for the ship name. I’m glad it was intuitive for some others. I always feel like my blog is buried in the great depths of the web and can only hope that interested parties will find there way here if they search the right thing and then go through enough pages.

      I don’t find it’s too uncommon for someone to have at least one incest ship (especially when some – like Jaime and Cersei from Game of Thrones or Cesare and Lucrezia from The Borgias – are relatively popular and front and center), but meeting someone else who has more than just one or two is always SO NICE. Welcome to the blog, and please if you’re on tumblr at all then check out my tumblr which is a bit more active. (This blog is mostly for lengthy analyses.)

  15. purpleorchid85 says:

    Hi I’m Lisa (I’m PurpleOrchid85 on LJ/AO3/FFNet) and yes I’ve got a bit of an incest-shipping tendency (or I should say slash-incest- shipping since I read Wincest -Sam/Dean slash, and wrote one fic…) but this is my first heterosexual incest shipping (very new as of recent days!!!) that I’ve actually watched with my incest goggles on!!!!

    So, to my curiosity, I Googled Axl/Sue and your Incest Shipping blog was one of the links that came up, and boy I’ve REALLY enjoyed reading it! I loved everything and my fave bits were the comparisons, quotes and two gifs: Axl doing his “Hello ladies!” thing (and it isn’t bad to see Charlie McDermott/Axl Heck half naked!) *wriggles eyebrows Groucho Marx style* the second gif (or I should say gifs, but I count them as one since they’re in the same scene) is the “Ohh, I’ll see you at the sawmill because you just got axed!” / “Ohh, I’ll see you in court because you’ve just been sued.” quote (I just love how Axl mimics axing!)

    Quote: “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.”

    Challenge ACCEPTED!

    1) I have started marathoning “The Middle” (currently up to 3.19 – The Paper Route) 2) I started shipping Axl/Sue straightaway from 1.05 – The Block Party – awwed when Axl gave Sue that jersey, but was disappointed not to see any continuity in that in any of the eps from that point on regarding that jersey! – at least what I’ve seen so far…
    3) Got some plot bunnies in mind for a couple of Axl/Sue fics, and am planning to write soon 🙂 got one in mind that is in the vein of the episode “Hecks On A Plane” (hint: vacation, snow & shared bed) you’ll have to find out once you read it! *winks*

    I’ve got a suggestion for the shipper name: Lumberjack Lawyers (a ‘Sue’ wink to 3.03 Hecking Order here) 😀 also, love McShermott as the Eden/Charlie ship name

    Please add more Axl/Sue interactions/mentions since you’ve left it off at 3.13 The Map, (since it’s now season 5!) or if that’s difficult to edit, perhaps you should do an brand new second/updated ‘Shipper Manifesto’ (there is such a livejournal community on LJ, perhaps you can post the link of your Lumberjack Lawyers Shipping Manifesto there to garner more shipper fans) with the information/photos/gifs already in your current manifesto.

    Perhaps try to encourage the shippers to create shipping videos (I’m a writer, – strictly either fanfiction or creative writing, I’m CRAP with fanart/manips or creative videos, otherwise I would try and create one for you!) or fanart/manips to post on the Axl/Sue community on LJ OR perhaps you could set up an fanpop club (so you or other users can post links to FanFics, provide the LJ community link, or post videos, photos, fanart/manips and Axl/Sue wallpapers)

    Also I suggest the following to be added after your deconstruction of every Axl/Sue interactions (and your interpretations of each episode, quotes, comparisons to similar movies/shippings etc, etc)

    Fic Recs:

    Title: Cherry Flavor
    Author: shinydarkness
    Summary: (author provided “Just read! Its short and fluffy. Enjoy and please review.” as her summary, so, I sorta provided an better one) Axl wants to make out with Sue. Sue wants to as well. Both can’t keep their hands off each other!
    Rating: PG-13

    Title: Feelings Are the Real Kissing Disease
    Author: gallifrey26
    Summary: Once Sue gets her braces and headgear removed, Axl starts to realize Sue is actually pretty and he may have difficult feelings for her, and feelings are hard to shake. Axl/Sue.
    Rating: T

    Title: Lullaby Delirium
    Author: Kismet’s Kiss
    Summary: They say if you fall asleep after something really amazing happens, it’ll turn into a dream. A dream that’ll last forever as a memory.
    Rating: T

    Title: The Popsicle
    Author: MadBoxOfTurtles
    Summary: There were many things Axl Heck did even though he knew they were wrong. Sue/Axl.
    Rating: M

    Title: Thursday Morning
    Author: AwkwardBlueCat
    Summary: It’s movie time and it’s just Axl and Sue on the sofa watching a really, really scary movie! well, it SHOULD have been scary but its not. Axl/Sue or at least it’s heading that direction. enjoy
    Rating: K+

    Title: The Formula, or The Long Road To Nepal (yes, I’m reccing your fic – awesome fic BTW)
    Author: x4ashes4ashes
    Summary: Axl is afraid that Sue will humiliate him when she enters the town’s beauty pageant, but he might be cheering for her before it’s all over. An Orson, Indiana Incest RomCom Axl/Sue
    Rating: Fiction T

    Title: The Guiltless Guide to Destruction
    Author: celestial_fish
    Summary: Axl comes home from college for the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Sue’s been feeling down so Axl brings her along to a party out of pity.
    This story is told completely first person from Axl’s point of view.
    Rating: Mature Audience only. This story discusses underage drinking and sexual acts involving insect between siblings. (Axl/Sue)



    PS “16 Candles” is one my top favourite 80’s movie (other two are “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Breakfast Club”) and liked “She’s All That”, and ever since I was a kid, loved watching “The Simpsons” (I blame my brother, he got me onto the show, which led him getting me hooked on”Futurama” and “Family Guy”!)

    PPS I applaud you for Xander’s “I’m 17; looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex.” (BTVS FTW!!!!)

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hello! Welcome!!!

      If you only have two incest ships them you’re pretty sane compared to me but I’ve found that once you go incest shipping there’s no going back. I wonder if Wincest will prove to be a gateway incest ship for many like it was for you. The Wincest fandom has certainly made incest shipping more mainstream on the internet.

      First of all, I’m glad to hear my blog came up pretty quickly in a google search about Axl and Sue. I’m always curious how people end up here and I always hope that my blog will come up when someone searches for the right term so that’s good to know.

      Another Axl/Sue shipper! Yay! This makes me so happy. I find it hard to imagine not shipping them, especially in the episodes when they have a lot of scenes together. They’re just so perfect for each other. Axl letting Sue wear his jersey is one of the sweetest things ever. I agree, it’s really too bad there was never any continuity with that. The Middle has surprisingly good continuity overall.

      You are actually not the first person to recommend Lumberjack Lawyers for a ship name! It must be a pretty good idea, then. I’ve been using Heckcest generally, especially on tumblr. But calling ourselves the Lumberjack Lawyers sounds pretty cool.

      I do feel bad that I haven’t written more commentary on Axl and Sue. They’ve had a ton of great interactions since 3.13. The Paper Route is one of the best examples but there’s plenty else to look forward to as well. I wish this was my job and then I could have all that time to write this stuff and get paid to it, LOL. One can dream. At this point I try and introduce some other pairings to the blog but Axl and Sue is one of my favorite ships so I really should find some time to return to old favorites.

      So you found the LJ? I know the girl who got that started and we had big dreams for it back in the day but maintaining a community like that can be a lot of work and there aren’t many of us shippers to motivate its upkeep. I’m surprised there’s not a link to my manifesto over there – there really should be one somewhere. Those are great ideas for expanding the fandom and trying to attract other shippers. I’ve been doing that a little on tumblr but a fanpop account and some fanvids on youtube would be a great way to grow. My fanvids aren’t great and I definitely can’t draw/paint so I’m not much good for those things. I really want to encourage you to spread the Axl/Sue love in the domains you’re most familiar with or spend more time at. If it’s left to me I’m not sure it’ll ever happen.

      That’s a great list of fic recs! I can see you’ve been busy reading. It’s too bad there aren’t more, isn’t it? I’ll make a note at the end of the entry that there is a list of fic recs in the comments. Thanks for compiling that!

      Thanks a lot for your comments. Like you my Axl/Sue obsession came after marathoning the show. I hope you enjoy the last couple of seasons and I’m so glad to have another Axl/Sue shipper in the ranks!

      • purpleorchid85 says:

        Hi, thanks for your lovely reply, and I’ve posted both my fic rec list and your lovely manifesto on the axlsue LJ community so the users there can find their way here as well :), Also I’ll mention it in my Fic author notes as well, since I think it’s a fantastic resource. I meant to actually start writing today, since I got the ideas down last night on my iPad, but I got locked out when I collected the mail (what a idiotic move for me, losing time like that), then this afternoon my Dad dragged me out to go ‘hiking’ to the lookout with him and my Aunt and Uncle who were visiting for couple of days now (unfortunately, we sorta left a little ‘late’ so it was dark when we got back) *sigh* I’ll try and get some writing after dinner.
        Lisa (PurpleOrchid85)

        • Shipcestuous says:

          Best of luck with the writing! I’m glad to hear you’ve already got a lot of it plotted out. I’ll be looking forward to your fic – be sure to come back here with the link once you’ve published it.

          And thanks for spreading the word on LJ!

  16. Hey, how are you? It’s been a while, right? (I don’t know if you remember me, I’ll just assume you do lol)
    So, The Middle is such a great show, it’s so sad that just a few people watch it, like you said, everything just feels so real. The writers of this show really rock it!
    When I first watched I put to record on my DVr, but it apparently only records when it wants so I’ve missed a lot of episodes, mostly in the first season. That’s why I didn’t see your point when you first wrote this. But then, when I decided to download all episodes and watch it carefully, I’ve finally watched the jersey shirt episode and O.M.G. I could totally understand. It’s not really my conventional incest ship, but damn, those two have chemistry, alright! I took three days to finally read everything, and wow I love your texts so much! Seriously (I keep saying that, but), I love all your recommendations, I’m download Cadavres, though I don’t think I’ll complete it, not enough people are seeding…
    Anyway, most of these little moments between Axl and Sue are really just Axl bullying her, but, as I was talking to a friend (who by the way, do not like incest ships) and she pointed out that most, if not all, Axl nice moments are with Sue. I think I’ve only see him being nice to Brick once, his mother too, but it’s much much more common with Sue. He really can reveal his soul to her (lol). I think it’s mostly because Sue is very sweet.
    I’m on episode 20 of the fourth season now and PLEASE! You need to update this post with new episodes so much! Season four is like paradise for Heckcest shippers! You have Axl actually showing emotions towards his sister and being (I’m going there!) JEALOUS when she starts dating his friend. Really, it’s just too much! I’m having major feels about them lol seeing Sue actually achieving things makes me it easier for me.
    When the third season was over I was a little worried, because the characters, though very interesting, don’t see to develop very much. Sue is still that dork, Axl the raging teeager, Brick still the geeky/nerdy and their parents, well, unaccomplished as always.. But after season 4 I could actually see great development, I loved when they took that miserable job away from Franky, she deserved doing something better with her life. And Sue is finally being good at something (the tennis). This makes me very very anxious for the fifth season with Axl in college, I wonder if they’ll reduce his scenes or…? I don’t know really…
    Well, I think I still had something to say, but that’s it for now. Every time I comment on your entries I end up writing you useless essays, sorry about that!

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Of course I remember you and it’s so wonderful to hear from you again! I really appreciate your long and thoughtful comments (not useless novels AT ALL!) and it really means a lot to me that you read my entries and consider my recommendations.

      In a lot of episodes Axl and Sue don’t interact that much, or just have the same old interactions where she’ll say something silly and he’ll make fun of her for it and that will be all. The really special moments between them don’t come very often but once you’ve seen them, as long as you’re open to shipping incest, I think the appeal really reveals itself. So I can understand why you didn’t think much of Axl and Sue at first, until you had seen the episode about the jersey and some of the other good ones.

      It’s always wonderful to have another Axl/Sue shipper in the ranks, so welcome! And it really is a pity that The Middle doesn’t have more fans – especially online – but I’m glad there are a few of us who really appreciate it and we can commiserate together.

      Your friend made a good point about most of Axl’s serious or sweet moments being with Sue. He’s had a few with the other members of his family, and on the odd occasion with a friend or girlfriend, but I find that many of his best moments really are with Sue. Probably because he teases her so mercilessly sometimes, there’s so much more of a contrast when he’s being kind and caring towards her. Axl has this veneer of apathy and selfishness, it’s always a treat to see that drop away and to see how he really feels. Because Sue is so vulnerable with everyone, he probably finds it easier to be vulnerable with her.

      My main intent with this entry was to make a thorough Axl/Sue recommendation and give the ship a jump start. There have been so many great Axl/Sue moments in the past couple of seasons since I wrote this – many in the 4th season and then some really good stuff you have to look forward to in the middle of the 5th – that I would love to write about, but I’ve tried to put my focus on writing about new ships. Maybe some day I’ll have the time and the inspiration to do some commentary on some of the great scenes between Axl and Sue that have passed by. But if you’re hungry for more Axl and Sue, check out my Axl/Sue tag on my tumblr, if you haven’t already.

      One of the biggest things – as you’ve pointed out – is when Sue starts dating Darrin and Axl freaks out about it. I agree – he totally came off as jealous!!! It was almost too good to be true.

      Sitcoms like this don’t tend to have a lot of character development, but I think Axl and Sue are growing in small ways. And of course they are growing up. I was also worried about Axl being in college, but they’ve found ways to keep him around in every episode. You’ll see.

      Thanks again for your comment! It was so wonderful to hear from you and t hear your thoughts about Axl and Sue!

  17. purpleorchid85 says:

    Hi 🙂
    As promised, I’m posting one of my completed Axl/Sue fics here. It’s called “Consquences Of Barging In”. I’ve cross-posted my fic at (, at AO3 ( as well as posting an LJ masterlist of the fic at the Axl/Sue community.

    I’m also working on at least 4 more multi-chap Axl/Sue fics as well, (I think at least three are planned to be slower paced & longer than “Consquences”)

    Happy reading 🙂

  18. Hey, just letting you know I’ve set up an Axl/Sue shipping fanfic writing forum at and I’ve ‘invited’ you as one of the Mods. In other news, I’ve been slowly inching towards completing my new Sue/Axl fic (in the middle of writing the third chapter out of the planned five chapter story) so after I’ve gone through an self-edit and am 100% sure it’s ready, cross-posted everywhere (I won’t be posting at 3am like last time lol) I’ll update here with the link as soon as I complete it. 🙂

  19. Hi 🙂
    I’m posting my new completed Axl/Sue fics here. It’s called “Hitting All The Bases” I’ve cross-posted my fic at ( – it is the lite version of the explict version that’s posted at AO3 ( as well as posting an LJ masterlist of the fic at the Axl/Sue community. It is up to you to read whichever version, since the LJ and the AO3 version is explicit, with sex scenes but if readers are squicked out by it, the lite version just have the scenes taken out and just have the aftermath written.

    Not only that, I’ve started an Axl/Sue Fanfic Community on Tumblr. Here’s the link: so that way Axl/Sue fans can post fanfic links there that way more opportunities for any fics to be seen.

    I’m gonna work on more multi-chap (and longer) Axl/Sue fics as well 🙂 so should hopefully will post them up soon.

    Happy reading 🙂

  20. Hi 🙂

    Long time, ‘no type’ lol. I haven’t seen any new episodes of the Middle season 6 yet (it hasn’t aired here in Australia yet *pout*. And what’s worse I can’t watch any episodes online because I require captions and I have no idea exactly where I can watch an captioned eligible version online!) Anyway, I’m just letting you know I’m posting one of my new and completed Axl/Sue fics here. It’s called “French Lessons”. I’ve cross-posted my fic at (, at AO3 ( as well as posting an LJ masterlist of the fic at the Axl/Sue community and upon my Lumberjack Lawyers fic community at Tumblr.

    Happy reading 🙂


    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hello! It’s great to hear from you again, and it’s wonderful that you’ve written more Axl and Sue! I saw your post on tumblr with the notifications about the new fics. I was going to post it but there was a lot going on on tumblr today so I saved it for a better time. Thanks for letting me know, and I’m so thrilled you’re still writing! I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t gotten any of season 6 yet. You have some things to look forward to. There’s one episode with a lot of Axl/Sue in it, I know you’ll love it. I don’t know where you can stream with captions, but is a great resource for tv subtitles.

  21. anonymous says:

    Continue the commentaries, season 7 just finished 🙂

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I just watched the season finale last night. I’d love to continue the commentaries but it’s just so overwhelming. There’s so much! (Which is a good thing, of course.) Maybe someday. Thank you for your support, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading what I wrote!

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