November 3, 2010 at 4:37 pm , by Sonia Harmon
She may just be the most relatable character on TV. As Frankie Heck on the ABC hit show, The Middle, Patricia Heaton spends her days juggling three kids, a full-time job, and a sweet-but-not-always-helpful hubbie. The show is set in Orson, Indiana. Ironic, given that Heaton herself grew up in the Midwest (Ohio), has four boys of her own, and is a self-admitted workaholic. We talked to Heaton about her own life in the middle, as well as her participation in CNN’s heroes tribute this Thanksgiving.
Is it fun revisiting your family roots, by doing a show set in the Midwest?
I’m thrilled! I don’t think there’s been a show that’s represented my “peeps” since Rosanne, where it’s just hard-working middle class people. If you are a mom with kids and you’re trying to work outside the home–as most moms are–it’s hard to juggle everything regardless of where you are socioeconomically. Everyone struggles with trying to be there for their family and their spouse, while bringing in money. The writers are all from the Midwest, too. A lot of the episodes get us all talking about what we did when we grew up.
Does that inspire ideas for future story lines?
Actually, we recently did an episode about a foreign exchange student that was inspired by my life. I got an email from my son’s school saying they needed host families for some Japanese foreign exchange students and I really wanted to do it because when I was a kid we had exchange students visit our neighborhood and it was so exciting. My sons were like, “We’re going to have a stranger living in our house for 10 days? No way!” But I thought it was going to be great and of course, I just got a very quiet teenager from Japan, who stared at us for 10 days. I even brought him to the set—which I could tell he was excited about—but his face never changed! And I thought, “Can you imagine if the Heck family had a foreign exchange student come and visit them?” So we recently aired that episode, which people just went crazy for, I got all kinds of emails about it. Read more