Tonight The Middle is back, so I have to say again that I really like that show. I haven’t seen the season premiere episodes yet, but I hope they do well against The X Factor. It has its own style that sets it apart from other shows – its portrayal of lower middle-class characters on a network mostly devoted to upper-class escapism, its splashy use of colour. (Sometimes it’s almost an object lesson in the visual points you can make by choosing colours carefully, or how a splash of bright red or pink can keep a show from becoming too downbeat.) The character of Sue Heck, as played by Eden Sher, has definitely become the breakout character, and an example of how the show manages to avoid being cliché-ridden or depressing. There’s nothing very new about a gawky girl with braces and middle-kid syndrome, and the character is sort of a distaff Charlie Brown, if with less self-awareness as to just how much the universe is out to get her. But Sher plays the part with so much enthusiasm, and the show somehow stops just short of gratuitous cruelty. So far, anyway. There’s enough realism in the character, and enough of a glint of hope that things might get better, that it remains funny. Of course, secure in the knowledge that Sher will keep the character from becoming totally pathetic, the writers are then able to use her as a repository for every humiliation anyone has ever gone through at that age, or any age.