ALPERN AT LARGE--I doubt I'm the only fifty-something that enjoys both family-friendly and cynical humor, and that I can both love "South Park", "Family Guy", and "Rick and Morty"... as well as a wonderful, family-friendly show like "Stuck In The Middle".
My teenage son and I love watching the former shows, and my ten-year-old daughter and love watching "Stuck In The Middle". There is room for both, but--unlike the former shows--"Stuck In The Middle" does something that the others do not:
"Stuck In The Middle" establishes a foundation on which other shows, as with the foundation created by "The Brady Bunch", "The Partridge Family", "Gilligan's Island", "Twilight Zone", "Star Trek", "Hogan's Heroes" and the like are required to give them any legitimacy.
Because without the floorboard, the foundation, the baseline on which our society is supposed to function--which includes a strong family sense of unity, parental cooperation, and "love winning out over adversity and our shortcomings", there is nothing to either lean on, or make fun of, in any of the "Simpson/South Park, etc." shows.
Furthermore, the question of how our society is supposed to function gets tossed into the maelstrom of uncertainty and dysfunction.
To restate things in a plain, down-to-earth sort of way, "Stuck In The Middle", as with "The Brady Bunch" or "The Partridge Family" displayed intrafamily scheming and humor, but even though they didn't reflect real-life dilemmas that can be solved in a half-hour, they did emphasize that loyalty to family, and cherishing love over snarky cynicism, is vital to a happy life, and a happy society.
"Stuck In The Middle" was well-written, displayed extraordinary character development, and was very funny and sweet at a time when our society really needs to see that.
Because there ARE families like the Diaz family, a Latino family who blends in well with American culture, and is a middle-class family with quirks and strengths that we can relate to.
Star Jenna Ortega played Harley, the middle child in a flawed but extraordinarily supportive family who, despite the understandable elbow-swinging that occurs between seven siblings battling for power and attention between each other and their parents, is a family we can also relate to, and certainly want to root for.
The family is not rich, but is not poor--the Diaz family is a family with morals and expectations, and is emblematic of a middle class in the United States that is really being threatened by both economic and cultural dragons that need to be slain.
The Diaz family live in a house that could never be big enough for all of them to be truly comfortable...yet is big enough to meet their needs, and to establish a childhood filled with fun, dreams, family unity, and love.
Harley is a brilliant individual who is certain to become a scientific success as an adult, and her brothers and sisters are both blessed with strengths and cursed with shortcomings (like the rest of us).
The parents are secure in their monogamy, and while the children have their unavoidable battles (some of them quite imaginative, hysterical, and reflective of above-average imaginations and capabilities in the children), woe be to any outside individual who would attack any of the siblings. Diaz family loyalty is stronger than steel.
But the need for a family who is as American as they are embracing of their Latino culture, and which are features that the Latino actors live in their own personal lives, is something our nation needs more than ever.
For those who remember "Good Times" and "The Jeffersons", you probably know exactly where I'm coming from.
It's my guess that the show has another 1-2 good years before the actors and plot lines aged out, which is as inevitable as it was with Disney's "Good Luck, Charlie", so it's a terrible shame that this much-needed show is likely to end so prematurely. It's funny, well-written, and very well-casted and acted.
And as for the "South Park/Simpson/Rick and Morty/Family Guy" genre shows?
Well, without "Stuck In the Middle" to keep that foundation intact, it'll be that much harder for those other shows to survive, because that foundation is what those shows keep bouncing off of in order to continue their own plot lines and humor.
And without that foundation, we're all in free fall.
So to all the amazing actors and actresses, and the makers and shakers who created "Stuck In The Middle", I want to thank you for giving me and my daughter a lifetime "favorite show" memory.
But without "Stuck In The Middle", it's my two cents that we're all just "stuck" without a really sweet, funny, and enjoyable show that my own family, and certainly my nation, could really use at this crazy moment in our nation's history.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at email@example.com. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)