Atticus Shaffer previews the Season 6 finale of THE MIDDLE


Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

For 6 seasons now, THE MIDDLE has continued to be one of my favorite shows on TV, never disappointing me, sometimes making me cry, and always making me laugh at something I can absolutely relate to.  As Season 6 comes to an end tonight, and with Season 7 on the horizon, I spent time chatting with series star Atticus Shaffer about what’s next for Brick (::whoop::)!  Check it out!

Congratulations!  Coming back for Season 7, Wednesdays at 8 where you belong! I’m so excited!
Woohoo!!  Thank you!

Does it get harder or does it get easier as you wait for word about the next season for the show?
You know what, that’s the thing.  My thought process, and this has always been my thought process since the very beginning when we got picked up for just our first 13 episodes, actually no, when we did the pilot [laughs] and we hadn’t even been picked up for 13 episodes! Even since back then, my thought process has been “hey, hope for the best, but expect the worst,” so my fingers are crossed and I’m a Christian, so I’m like, you know what God, you do what you do best, and if we’re supposed to keep going, keep us going.  And so far, we have been!  So that’s a huge blessing!


Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

So far, so good! I’m so happy because I’ll basically tell everyone I talk to that THE MIDDLE is my favorite show on TV ha. Knowing it’s going to be there, I can relax for another year.
Yes!!  Definitely – I do the same thing.  For me, it’s THE WALKING DEAD.  As a fan of THE WALKING DEAD, every time I hear, it’s like “oh they’re going to be back, thank God! [laughs out loud and continues] It’s like okay, we’re good, I can rest now!”

And this season, we get the relief, and we still have the season finale to look forward to!  What can you tease about how Season 6 ends?
This is the cool thing about this season finale.  With every season finale, it seems to get hyped up bigger and bigger and bigger, borderline to the point where everything but the kitchen sink is in the episode.  And there have been times where the Hecks didn’t have a kitchen sink! [laughs] Right?  The cool thing about Brick specifically, instead of it being like other season finales where he’s really, really worried about something because he forgot something or he missed something, and now he has to scramble to get it completed until the very end of the episode and he just barely scrapes by passing and he gets to move onto the next grade.  This year, because Brick is also smart, he actually has the chance of skipping a grade and next year going straight into high school, so we get to see Brick have to make that decision if he wants to go to high school, and then talk about it, and actually express himself a little bit.  So it’s going to be cool.  I’m excited to see what fans think and see what fans are pushing for as he goes along.

I really like that we’re all invested in these characters. It’s not just a fan reaction; people kind of think of the Hecks as their own extended family, because we’ve grown up with you.  What’s it like being at this point where the fans have embraced you as their own?
That’s the cool part – not only is our show, people say that our show is so relatable, I think that’s awesome.  Even for me, I’m able to take things that I thought about when I was younger, and apply them to Brick now.  I’m three years older than Brick is on the show.  Brick is at the age where I was going through the stuff that he’s going through a few years ago, and I can apply that now.  It’s fun because our show is relatable and we’re able to take all of those nuances from the writers’ lives, from everyday lives, and we kind of amp it up a little bit, because it’s a show, obviously, but the way that we portray it is the way that it feels to people when it’s happening to them.  I love not only being able to do that, but that the fans love it, and they want more of it.

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Have you talked to the writers about what comes next?  With Sue graduating, Brick has a chance to be a bit of an only child next year!
You know, they have not talked about anything for Season 7.  One of the things about the show is that the writers don’t start writing until June and we’re not going to work at June; we don’t go back until August.  It’s one of those things where, at the beginning of the year, I will sit down with Eileen, who is the creator of the show, and I’ll talk with her, and be like “what can I expect; what can I prepare myself for” and whatever, and I will knock around ideas as well, because I love this character so much and I can relate to him. I want him to be the best that he can be.  Not overpowering anyone or anything like that; I want him to be cool and future things he can portray.  An example of that that they kind of gave me this year, was the episode where the family forgot Brick’s birthday, again, [laughs], and he made everyone sit down and kind of express what he loves and what is interesting to him.  They played music that was bluegrass music as Brick was flat foot dancing.  That was something that I was able to contribute.  That band was actually a family band and they’re friends of ours, myself and my mom, so I was like, hey can we put their music in the show?  I can do flat foot dancing, I’ve been into this for a while.  Brick is weird; he is probably into flat foot dancing.  Can you let me do flat foot dancing?  And it took them a while, but it was like, “Hey Atticus, check out this script,” and I looked at it, and it was like, YES, this is awesome!  And the band, they were able to give a song that they do, and we were able to play it on the show, and I thought that was so much fun!

It has to be cool to grow with the character to a point where you start to know and understand what that character may want to do next.  I’m sure that they’re happy to hear what you might suggest or think!
Right, exactly!  That’s the thing – it’s really cool when they do throw me a bone, and they do say, hey you know what, we really like that idea; let’s use it.  I always think it’s cool.  There will be times where it’s like, HEY!  You got a little help there! [laughs]  Throw me a bone, give me some credit! The fact that I was able to do it at all, I think is so cool.  I’m able to share it with the crew, too, because I’m a huge history nerd, so I gave the whole crew a big spiel on flat foot dancing, because they were like “hey what is that dance, it’s so cool,” and I go into my nerd-out mode and explain it to them. So it’s fun!

The show handles running gags, sight gags, so well – the episode all about Brick finding a backpack was amazing, and then weeks later, he’s still dragging along that pizza delivery bag.  Do you have a favorite running bit to do or see?
Yeah, you know, I think it’s been my favorite since the very beginning, but I love the whisper. I think the whisper is Brick.  If you were to look up Brick Heck in the dictionary, the first quality would be whispering.  I’ a little disappointed because they don’t show it as much, but it is, it’s really cool to be able to do the whisper, do the whooping, and doing variations of it. There was an episode where it was a reverse whisper where Frankie and Brick were talking with each other.  Brick kind of said something already whispering, and then instead of doing a whisper where he’s looking down, he looks down and starts yelling it, and I think it’s hilarious how they’re able to take that and do variations with it.

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

You point out that they don’t do the whisper as much but it helps that when it’s few and far between, each new time makes me laugh out loud!
Definitely!  That’s the thing, too.  There will be things that we forget, and there will be a random moment where I’m watching TV and I see an episode, and I see myself when I’m younger and see the different quirks I had in previous seasons.  Like rubbing the ketchup packet.  There was an episode this season where they’re on the train and the boy from South Dakota wants Brick to help him steal beer.  And Brick is nervous about it, and we were trying to make the scene work. I was like, hey, I’m standing next to ketchup packets; I think I would be holding a ketchup packet and rubbing like we used to, and they were like “oh we forgot about that! It’s perfect! Do it!” [laughs]

Is there something as the show continues that you would like to see Brick do or accomplish?
I love that they are having Brick mature, however, I always want him to stay true to himself. This character, it shows that it’s okay to be unique, and he does not need to be like other characters on TV that are more “normal”.  I like that he is now being unique, showing that he’s really smart, or whatever, but for me personally, I think it would be really cool to be able to see him, as he progresses and goes to high school, to be able to see him find a couple friends to make his own friend group, and have him be able to interact with other people outside of his family but people that really get him.  Find the girl that he really knows, really understands, and is really able to connect with.  And then is able to also have other friends that are just friends and he’s able to rely on as well.  Sue has her friend group.  Axl has his friend group, at college; even the parents have their friend group. It would be cool to see Brick have his own unique area to be in.

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

As the show has progressed, social media has come such a far way in just the past few years.  How has fan interaction changed for you from when it started to where we are now, where they almost have instant access to you?
That’s the thing – when I first got into the show, I was very adamant.  No, not getting into social media.  Like you said, it was in its infancy.  MySpace was still big at the time.  Facebook and Twitter was just starting. To me, it was like, no, I don’t want to be glued to a computer.  I can’t do that, I’m staying away from that!  Season 2, I got a Facebook account because I didn’t like people impersonating me, because they were with Facebook accounts, and then it was like, wow, this is actually kind of fun!  A couple years ago, I think it was the year before last, Season 5, I got a Twitter account, and I’m actually enjoying it more.  My mom upgraded to a smart phone because we’ve been resisting upgrading to a smart phone, as well, I’m unfortunately turning to the dark side on Sunday and I’m getting a smart phone!  It’s one of those things where, touch of a button, you have a picture, right?  Find the app, sign in, and post, and now you can post stuff.  For me, as an actor, it’s cool, though.  All of these fans, they’re fans of the show; they’re exactly that, they’re fans and like you said, I get that feedback.  It helps me, not in like an egotistical way, it’s more like – this is cool because they’re watching the show right now, and they’re giving me live feedback from everything that they see.  They see what I see.  This is a way for me to say, you know what, okay, I’m going to remember that because you like that, therefore, I’m going to do that in episodes to come, or, they didn’t like that as much, okay, I need to change that to make it more unique or different or whatever.  It’s both constructive and kind of fun at the same time!  My mom and I have become foodies.  When we go to food places and we see something that’s just awesome and it tastes amazing, take a picture and just post it! [laughs]

THE MIDDLE finishes Season 6 at 8/7c tonight and will return to Wednesdays at 8/7c in the Fall!

Check out a few (mildly-spoilerific) shots from tonight’s all new episode!

THE MIDDLE - "The Graduate"

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THE MIDDLE - "The Graduate" - As graduation approaches, Sue begins to think that "the year of Sue" may end on a sour note when a series of unforeseen events threaten to ruin her special day. Meanwhile, Frankie and Mike are stunned to learn that Brick is doing so well in middle school that he's been offered the chance to skip eighth grade and go directly into high school; and as summer vacation commences, Axl sees some images of his girlfriend Devin on social media having fun with some guys back home and begins to think he may lose her, on the season finale of "The Middle," WEDNESDAY, MAY 13 (8:00-8:30 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Michael Ansell)FRENCH STEWART