Sometimes we just need to rewatch an old series to remind us of the good times, back when we had no worries and life was pure bliss. During this pandemic, I came across a show I had lost all hope of watching again: Malcolm in the Middle. The 2000s sitcom, as most of us probably know, follows the (mis)adventures of an intellectually gifted young boy and his not-so-bright family. This typical lower-middle class American family is always getting into some kind of trouble, which makes for hilarious moments, as well as some heartwarming ones.
Before I begin, I must say I love the show and understand that it is exactly what it is, a show, a caricature of reality that is made to make us relate and laugh at ridiculous situations. This was one of the first sitcoms I was exposed to, and I will cherish it in my heart until the day I die. That being said, let’s do this!
I’m not here to talk about every character and what makes them who they are, but rather to describe what I felt after watching the first season almost 20 years after its release. I’m slightly older now and, although I can still relate to plenty of the things that happen in the show, I noticed many others which made me realise a show like this would probably not be as well received in today’s world.
First of all, we need to address the domestic violence and aggressive behaviour that is persistent in the family. No weakness is to be shown, for they live under the motto of “the survival of the fittest”. It is of course exaggerated for comedic purposes, but the fact that every problem is solved using violence can become slightly disturbing. This can be clearly seen on how the boys deal with problems outside of home. Be it dealing with disagreements, romantic interest, or failure, their response is always engaging on defensive mode.
On the other hand, there is a very present sense of belonging and a duty to protect the family at all cost. Even if the Wilkersons (yes, that is their last name) can sometimes do anything to get at each other, whenever someone else messes with a member of the family, they will be faced with no mercy. I believe an important part of this sentiment, as well as an release valve for all the tension is Hal, the loving father, who, despite all the chaos at home, can be very understanding and supporting of his wife and children.
In the end, I think this show is only a reflection of the situations many typical families undergo, with an extra spice to make it funny. I, by no means, intend to make the series look bad. On the contrary, I believe we can all watch it again with a different perspective and judge it by ourselves, always keeping in mind its purpose and context.
Bonus fact: the voice of Malcolm in the Latin American dub was my Bioprocesses Lab teacher, funny how life works. I guess this time he WAS the boss of me…
Do you also like Malcolm in the Middle? Please share with us a slice of your opinion in the comment section below! The Cake is always thrilled to read about your thoughts!
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Feature imaged recovered from Where are they now? | Wonderwall.
Editor’s note (AI-I): Malcolm’s family is always under pressure since they are always struggling for money. As the author states, there are no excuses for treating each other with violence, but it is important to mention money as an essential part of the context inside the show. Stressing out because your family is living paycheck to paycheck is perfectly understandable, and it is a social issue that should be adressed. Most of us can relate to that; however, we should also look for healthy ways to de-stress, like watching this amazing show! Just do not forget that it is just a comedy show and not an instruction manual on how to behave. Please, spread love and goodness, and share cake and laughs! 🙂