Patricia Heaton is by far one of the most talented female comedians on television today, and her portrayal of working mom, Frankie Heck on The Middle, is an example of such. Recently, the hilarious lady herself took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with journalists about The Middle and life in general.
Let’s take a look at what pearls of hilarity she had to impart.
On Frankie’s job loss
Patricia Heaton: Well, you know, I hadn’t. It wasn’t my idea. The writers told me about it sort of before we came back into this fourth season, and it was a little bit of a shock, but yet it was a little expected. We had, you know, kind of played out that arena for Frankie and, you know, after you kind of see how a show is going and at some point, you have to change direction because you can’t keep going back to the well for the same thing.
It was a little bit disappointing that I love (Chris Catan) and (Brian Doyle Murray) who were my boss and co-workers on the episodes. I’m sure that they’ll be back in some form at some point. But I think it sort of very reflective of what people are going through either for economic reasons in their lives where they’re having to refashion themselves and find a new way to identify themselves in the workplace because of circumstances, or for some people, it’s just they feel like they need a change in their lives and so they step out and take a risk and try something new.
So I was—and just as an actor, I was kind of excited to take Frankie into a new place. One of my first questions to the writers when I was considering first taking on the role of Frankie was like what if she, you know, did she go to college or what was her – like was her goal to be a mom or what? We had many discussions about, you know, where she was, because growing up I pretty much knew I was always acting in a sense that I was just doing community theatres and school plays and singing and things like that. But by the middle of my junior year in college I made the commitment to pursue acting. And so I had to kind of get my mind around someone like Frankie who sort of didn’t have quite have a passion and then got married, start having children, and so, you know, became a full time mom until she started working at the dealership. So this is actually kind of fun for me to kind of go on that journey with Frankie because it’s the journey I was sort of asking about that character from the beginning of the show and now we really, you know, we get to see like what is it that she – now that she was sort of forced into this opportunity -what is she going to do with it? So I kind of find it pretty exciting.
Jump ahead to see what else this awesome woman had to say.
On how close to reality the parenting is on the show
Patricia: I had a mom stop me. I was much like Frankie Heck, was at a fast food Mexican restaurant picking up dinner for my kids after work, and a mom was there doing the same thing, and she said, “Oh, I love your show, and you are me and I’m totally on board with your style of parenting. There’s only so much I can do. We just dropped my daughter off at an afterschool thing,” and you know, she was just like, “I get it. You guys do it so well. That’s exactly I’m on board with everything you guys do.” So I do think that it touches a lot of people.
We read a lot of magazines. We see a lot of talk shows about what our homes should look like, what we should look like, you know, fitting in the parties and doing the healthy snacks, and using recycled lunch boxes, and bringing your just, you know, your reusable bags to the grocery store. Does anybody remember to do that by the way? I even have some in my trunk and I go to the grocery store and I forget to bring them in with me when I go. I mean it’s just like there’s too much on our plate, and part of the wonderfulness of telecommunications and having everything on your phone and having everything within reach is, you know, you can get a lot done and you can be in touch with your kids, and if plans change you, you know, it’s right at your fingertips there and you can make it all work.
But the down side of that is now we feel like we are supposed to be doing all these things. Our workload has probably tripled, and I don’t think the human brain was really constructed. This is my excuse for – it’s really just menopause that I’m blaming it on technology – that I can’t keep everything in my because it’s too much of it, and like I said, I’m sitting here, I have to keep lists. I’m actually handwriting them like I’m, you know, I might as well be using a quill pen for how ancient that seemingly is. And we’re getting tired, and so I think our show is sort of gives people sort of a break and says give yourself a break and it’s going to be okay, and not all this other stuff isn’t that important.
Best advice for moms everywhere
Patricia: Well, I think we have to stop striving and I – it’s taken me a very long time, and I didn’t follow my own advice this week, but my advice would be to slow down and let go of some of the activities. It’s hard when you have kids. But you know what, when I was growing up my parents didn’t do anything. If we wanted to do something we had to do it ourselves.It’s a different time now. I mean I live in LA; you have to drive your kids everywhere. So it’s a little bit more difficult. But I really would simplify things. And if that means three nights a week you’re picking up,already cooked chicken from the grocery store or something to give yourself a break, that’s what you need to do. You need to just relax and still try to enjoy life as opposed to kind of getting through it.
[Note from Megan: That is really good advice, because sometimes as parents, we spend so much time trying to do things for our children that we run ourselves ragged. Don’t sweat all the small stuff, and try to take some time to actually enjoy your children—they are really amazing at times!]
On her favorite episode
Patricia: Well I think that the hour premier we did this season was one of my favorites and I think it really dealt with a lot of great issues – (Axel) getting all of the attention because he’s always screwing up, and (Sue) kind of realizing that the way to get attention is to sort of be a bad girl. And you know (Sue’s) version of a bad girl is very, very mild. And but part of it is that she wants to connect with her dad, and I love the whole theme of the father/daughter connecting, or in (Mike’s) case he was having a hard time connecting because they don’t share the same interests, and so but it was really great because it kind of seemed like it was all going downhill. And at the very end of the episode there was this wonderful montage of the scrapbook that (Sue) had put together, which was entitled “The Summer of Sue and Dad,” and all these pictures that she had cut out about – she’s one of my favorite characters on the show because she’s eternally optimistic and in the face of, you know, hopelessness, So I just, you know, I think that that was one of my favorite episodes. The fact that we’ve got an entire hour to explore was really fun.
So yes, I would say that currently is one of my favorites although, you know, we just had one last week that was really funny about this, you know, finding out that (Britt) had even more chicks than we thought, maybe needs to see a therapist. And then we have (Brooke Shields) coming up who is revamping — no pun intended — her role as (Rita Glasser), the trashy next door neighbour who we’re all frightened of. So, you know it’s just hard to pick because we had so m any great episode.
That’s it for our chat with Patricia, but stay tuned to the site for some more information on the upcoming episode of The Middle and this lovely lady in general.