I finally finished Malcolm in the Middle
I saw Malcolm in the Middle multiple times throughout my childhood but never really got into it enough to watch the entire series from start to finish, mostly due to the fact that I only had the options to record it or purchase the DVD boxset once it finished in 2006. Neither of these were really an option given I lived in what was basically peasantry and our 'cable' television access was either cancelled frequently or we just did not have it for years at a time.
While this is far from my first post about Malcolm in the Middle, as well as my Disney+ subscription which has pleasantly surprised me over the last few months with its large library in comparison to other streaming giants, I wanted to write about it one last time now that I have finally finished the show from start to finish, and write down a few thoughts I had regarding the show in its entirety.
It took me a few months to finish the show from start to finish, having watched two-to-three episodes per night; though it has relatively short episodes and seven entire seasons sometimes with more than sixteen total episodes. These seasons began to fly by, as I found myself getting more and more addicted and the little storylines continued to roll into the next. These small arcs amount for a considerable amount of character development that easily could be unnoticed given the focus on comedic elements and scenarios of the show, but it's the strong character development that I found myself appreciating the most towards the end.
That is not to say that Malcolm in the Middle is a show that focuses strongly on its narrative, because it certainly is not that. It is a show about a dysfunctional lower-to-middle class family and the insanity of dealing with three energetic boys with very little regard for rules and safety. Even in times where such dysfunctionality are heavily dramatised, it speaks a lot of the struggles of youth and how, for both youth and parents, life is this strange construct that often makes little sense no matter how hard we attempt to find sense in it.
The characters, despite their own selfish acts and idiocy, each form and grow into something larger as the show progresses and the environments change; my most favourite development of a character comes from Francis, given he is the largest troubled child of the family that is sent off to military school but finds his way into adulthood through sheer accidents and luck, as things tend to just fall into place for him. Though often enough these lucky events are more than just luck and a result of his own kindness to contribute to the success of others. There's contrast in this given his youth and majority of actions in which he's forever pursuing dangerous acts or getting into some form of trouble for the sheer fun of it. I found myself really enjoying the storyline in which Francis works on a ranch, this is where most of his development unfolds.
Given this, he's the character I felt had the most development and ultimately a conclusion in comparison to the other characters who almost float around aimlessly for the most part of the show. They're lost in their own youthful struggles as they juggle school life and teenage life with no real understanding of the world. Though, this is expected in the youth where the odds are constantly stacked against them and they must get through it via trial and error; this is often the case for the character of Reece where he's forever getting into trouble and generally just being a piece of shit, but sometimes discovering that these acts can serve him very well in certain fields.
But I found myself often hating his character given his ignorance and inability to really grow and learn from his mistakes. It adds to his character in the comedic elements, but falls flat when providing a character of worth; though that's where Francis steps in as the main child character that ends up being okay.
I really enjoyed how the episodes featured most of the cast each time, but they also rotated between certain events that impacted certain characters more. It made it so each episode felt fresh, completely new, without overreaching or feeling as if it was trying to rush out events and character growth. I feel there are few shows, particularly in modern day, where this structure is present and done well. Each episode being about a different story is what made me feel so connected to the show and never really getting bored of it. Especially when certain episodes would be shot in a different, more creative manner depending on the theme.
I don't think there's really another show quite like Malcolm in the Middle, and part of me is sad about that, but I also realise that it makes it much more special. It stands out. It's a show that has a little something for everyone without sacrificing quality as a result. Though, this also means that now it is finished I can finally move on!
But this does bring me to a certain question: what happened to wholesome comedy shows about families? Even though the family in Malcolm in the Middle is far from perfect, it's certainly a realistic portrayal of family life. Surely everyone can relate to that.