LOS ANGELES – Patricia Heaton hasn’t gotten emotional yet about her series, “The Middle,” coming to an end.
“The Browns lost every game this year,” said the Ohio-raised actress. “I can put up with anything.”
The ABC sitcom, which kicks off its final six episodes April 3, lasted nine seasons without ever finishing in the Nielsen top 30 or earning a major Emmy nomination — its longevity a minor miracle, and a gift for fans of one of the few sitcoms that followed “Roseanne’s” example by celebrating the heart of the heartland.
The Heck family of fictional Orson, Ind., may rely a little too much on fast food and bounce the occasional check, but their shortcomings make them one of TV’s most relatable, and reliable, families.
“I think the people in the middle of the country have been touched by the way we’ve honored their everyday life,” said Eileen Heisler, who created the series with DeAnn Heline. “When you read the Facebook comments and stuff, you see people from all of these kinds of towns asking, ‘Do you have a camera in my house?’ That’s what we hoped for.”
The series’ most unforgettable character is daughter Sue Heck (Eden Sher), a teenager brimming with good cheer even though she’s a walking, talking example of Murphy’s law.
Sher demurred when asked if she could envision her character in a spinoff, but Heaton quickly jumped in. “You are sowing seeds of discord, because if she gets a spinoff and nobody else does, there’s going to be problems,” she said.
An argument could be made that “The Middle” should just keep going, especially at a time when Hollywood and the media are getting criticized for not paying enough attention to economically challenged, conservative-leaning people like the Heck family.
“We’re coming to the end of our show and suddenly it’s a hot topic,” Heaton said. “Our timing really sucks.”
Never fear. There’s always the chance for a Heck reunion.
“It’s great that ‘Roseanne’ is coming back,” said Heline. “That means, like, in another eight years, we can come back again, too.”
What: Final six episodes begin April 3.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
Finale: Hourlong episode airs May 22.