THE MIDDLE “Foreign Exchange” Review


THE MIDDLE “Foreign Exchange” Season 2 Episode 5 – The Hecks take in a Japanese foreign exchange student in the “Foreign Exchange” episode of THE MIDDLE and it doesn’t go quite as Frankie had planned.

Poor Frankie. Her insecurities mean Nancy Donahue has way too much power over her. Not that the Hecks don’t make interesting ambassadors, but Mike definitely has a point about the foreign exchange not being a great idea when he says “I don’t know, Frankie. We barely pay attention to the kids we have.” At least it turns out well with the Hecks getting everything in their house fixed, but the road there is a bit rough in more ways than one.

“We’ve got a dud. We got ripped off.” Oh, Takayuki, you had no idea what you were signing up for. First off, I had no idea there were so many toastable breakfast foods. Takiyuki holding the Pop Tart all day is cute, but it gets old fast. And poor Brick, who really wanted a dog, not a foreign exchange student, says “He’s like a cat. You show him affection and he doesn’t return it.” I don’t blame Takayuki for not eating his dinner in a bag or those dippable things, that’s for sure.

Axl and Sue have some epic fights here, mostly over a chore chart, and while Sue may or may not be over-reacting (I vote not–Axl’s being a tool) due to it being braces tightening time, Axl goes way beyond any sense of decency when he gives her a laxative before a road trip and then takes a picture of her going to the bathroom in a ditch. No jury in the world would convict her for that murder. Frankie’s bribery and Brick’s disgust that he doesn’t get money are a high point, especially when Frankie waves cash around and explains American life to Takayuki.

Frankie says, “I would never saddle some poor Japanese family with Axl,” and she doesn’t, but she does send Takayuki back to Japan as a rude, clothes-shedding, self-whispering Axl-Brick combo. Ha! That’s my favorite scene of the episode.

This is a decent but far from great episode of The Middle. While there are a few good laughs, the energy feels off and I just don’t enjoy the Heck antics as much as usual. While the payoff with the Heck family meltdown on the side of the road is quite funny, the build-up is too slow and the characters are less lovably quirky than I like. Too much solemn Takayuki and too little Brick.

What did you think of “Foreign Exchange?” If you had to choose who was more of a dud (not that either actually is a dud), would you say Takayuki or the Heck family?

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