Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.
Despite a bevy of critical love in the course of its first three seasons, Emmys have eluded The Middle. Why? We’re not entirely sure. But Eileen Heisler, co-creator of ABC’s quiet comedic gem, has an idea or two. Atop her list? Ironically, the show is sort of stuck in, well, the middle. “We had a line in the beginning of our pilot that was, ‘Yeah, we’re in the middle — the place you fly over on your way to somewhere else,’ and I think that sometimes that happens to our show, too,” she says with a laugh.
The so-called destination, in this case, is of course that other ABC comedy, Modern Family — which, with six Emmy statues, is dripping in award riches. Not that buzz is undeserved; quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, it simply makes it hard to shine, says Heisler. “I think that we’ve always been in the shadow of Modern Family, which we have to be thankful for because it made it a night that gets attention,” she says. “I think there are still some people who are simply not aware of it and not aware that there’s more than one great family show on Wednesday night…But I think there’s also something, maybe, unsexy about [The Middle] and its description — until they watch it. I think there’s always a bit of a bias against something that’s perceived as less hip.”
But the show is edgier than some might think, Heisler says, and relatable. The latter being among the things The Middle does best, which is why Heisler chose “The Map” to take a deep dive into with EW. The episode, in part, dealt with the death of the Hecks’ Aunt Ginny and was a nod to the passing of beloved actress Frances Bay, who portrayed her. See a clip below and read about how the late Bay inspired the episode. READ FULL STORY