What the Heck? "The Middle," ABC's Heck family sitcom set in a small Indiana town, will end its nine-year run during the 2017-18 TV season.
DeAnn Heline, a 1983 Lakota High School graduate, told the Television Critics Association Sunday that she and fellow co-creator/executive producer Eileen Heisler made the decision to end the Patricia Heaton situation comedy while talking to ABC executives last season.
"The truth is, we could write this family for 10 more years, but we felt we had to either end it now, or go for 10 more years,” she said, according to Deadline.com.
"The decision for us to end the show was a very personal decision," Heisler said. "When we spoke to (ABC President) Channing Dungey last season we were talking about having this season (be the last). It meant a lot to us to know we had a season to say goodbye."
The final season premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 (Channel 9, ABC).
Heline, the daughter of a retired Deer Park elementary school teacher, is proud of the universal appeal of the fictional Indiana middle-aged, middle class parents (Emmy-winning Cleveland native Heaton and Neil Flynn) living in the middle of the country.
“What we find is that 'The Middle' is now playing everywhere around the world, and what's amazing is that whether you're someone who's in an urban city or in another country, everyone can identify with it," said Heline, whose credits (with Heisler) include "Roseanne," "Ellen," "How I Met Your Mother," "Murphy Brown," "Three Sisters," and "Doogie Howser, M.D."
Here's the ninth season synopsis from ABC:
"Between juggling shifts and picking up fast-food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike (Heaton and Flynn) raise their kids with love, humor and solid Midwestern practicality.
"Recent college graduate Axl (Charlie McDermott), the oldest, returns home from his summer trip to Europe and takes on a new, chill European look on life. Although Mike is still on his back to get a job, Axl will do so, but at his own leisurely pace. Axl is still dating Lexie (Daniela Bobadilla), and their relationship is getting serious enough that it's time for Frankie and Mike to meet her rich parents, which makes them just a tad nervous.
"Then there's the ever-optimistic Sue (Eden Sher), their extraordinarily ordinary daughter, who fails at just about everything she tries with great gusto. She is excited to start her third year at college with roommate Lexie but is still trying to get used to the fact that Axl and Lexie are dating. And she still has the snow globe that she found in the trash – unaware that Sean Donahue (Beau Wirick) was going to give it to her and profess his crush on her before a misunderstanding quashed the moment. Sue has unrequited feelings for him, too, but will they ever discover their mutual attraction for each other?
"And finally there's Brick (Atticus Shaffer), their quirky son, who reads constantly, whispers and 'whoops' to himself, as well as unapologetically marches to the beat of his own drummer. Now entering his sophomore year in high school, he thinks this will finally be his time to become more popular and decides to break up with his equally quirky girlfriend Cindy (Casey Burke) so that he's not tied down. But, being a Heck, things probably won’t go quite as smoothly as he would like.
"Frankie and Mike had hoped to continue finding themselves with an emptier nest, which, in theory, would have let them cut back on their parental duties. But with Axl now back at home along with Brick, they find that hope quickly fading. Parenting is never over no matter where your kids are. Balancing kids and work never really gets easier – it just gets different.
"Their hilarious struggles continue, but through all the madness shines a loving family, and together the Hecks continue putting 'The Middle' on the map."