Mom’s in the middle of chaos, again

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to Pat Heaton

Patricia Heaton fans will be pleased to know the funny and talented actress is back on the box, in The Middle.

Most of us first saw her on Everybody Loves Raymond as Debra. She plays a housewife who feels let down by the matrimonial system. She constantly feels as if the work she puts in at home, which includes cleaning and looking after the kids without her husband’s help, is not appreciated.

Her hubby, Ray, plays the clown at every opportunity, so much so she sometimes feels he is one of the kids, too. Then come the never-ending visits from his relatives who make the couple’s business theirs, too. When Debra can’t take it anymore she takes it out on her Ray.

Interestingly, Heaton moved to the other show and plays an identical role to the one in Everybody Loves Raymond.

In The Middle, which airs every Wednesday on Comedy Central, Heaton takes on the role of Frankie Heck, who is, you guessed it, the wife and mother of, again not one or two, but three, impossible kids.

The element of semi-dysfunctional family and relatives is also brought into The Middle. However, unlike in Everybody Loves Raymond, Heaton is the lead character and the entire storyline revolves around her.

While this is all good and well, and perhaps she stays employed and relevant, you have to wonder if she made the right decision in accepting the part. Indeed it is a big show, but then we can’t deny that she runs the risk of being typecast. You may be wondering what the fuss is about, but any actor worth their salt knows they are better off not working than being type-cast. You become that character and nothing else. Look at Jean-Claude Van Damme and his career. After a few years as the guy who lost a brother and is out for revenge, people kind off got tired of it and went looking for more meaningful stories. Don’t even get me started on Sylvester Stallone.

In comedy many actors have been stuck in one role in different shows for years. This has corroded their careers and made them undesirable for mould-breaking roles. Tasha Smith comes to mind. If you’ve watched a few Tyler Perry films then you know Smith. She’s the loudmouth with a drinking and temper problem in all the roles he’s cast her in. You will find her as a ’hood rat in Daddy’s Little Girls and a psycho in Why Did I Get Married? But beyond that, you’ll not see her in anything serious.

Is Heaton headed that way? Time will tell.

• The Middle,Wednesdays at 7.40pm on Comedy Central (channel 122).


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