Forget about athletes, movie stars and politicians. Parents are the real heroes - but we think Frankie Heck, must be some kind of superhero. A loving wife and mother of three, she's middle class in the middle of the country and is rapidly approaching middle age.
Frankie and her husband, Mike, have lived in Orson, Indiana, their whole lives. A man of few words (every one a zinger), Mike is a manager at the town quarry and Frankie is the third-best used car salesman (out of the three) at the local dealership. She may not be a high-powered career woman, but when it comes to her family, she'll go to just about any length. And with kids like these, she had better. There's Axl, her semi-nudist teenage son conceived while under the influence of Guns N' Roses; Sue, the awkward teenage daughter who fails at everything... but with the utmost of gusto; and their seven-year-old son Brick, whose best friend is his backpack.
Sometimes it seems like everyone is trying to get to the top, or struggling not to hit bottom, but we think Frankie and her family will find a lot of love, and a lot of laughs, somewhere in The Middle.
Frankie and Mike are excited to meet April – the love of Axl's life – but discover that love may indeed be blind when April reveals a quirky personality trait. Meanwhile, after getting bit by the acting bug while working at Dollywood over the summer, Sue wants to change her major to theater, and Brick is starting high school and making it his mission to try for a fresh start and not be considered one of the weird kids.
When a devastated Sue discovers that she has been kicked out of college because she forgot to renew her financial aid, Mike tries to come to her rescue and convince a tough college bursar to reinstate her. Meanwhile, having only taken oral liquid medication all of his life, a frustrated Frankie does everything in her power to teach Brick how to swallow a pill when he gets an ear infection; and Hutch becomes angry with Axl after he keeps driving the Winnebago without permission to Orson to visit new girlfriend April - leaving Hutch without any means of transportation to get to class.
As Halloween approaches, Frankie is taken aback when she discovers that, if the circumstances ever arose where she and Mike got divorced, the kids would all choose to live with Mike. Meanwhile, Sue tries everything in her power to get her room back from Brick, and having to be so nice around girlfriend April all of the time leads Axl to lash out at his family.
Sue has had enough of boyfriend Jeremy and wants to break up with him. But not knowing how to do it, she asks Axl for some of his worldly advice. Meanwhile, Brick tries his best to show school spirit and fit in with his fellow high schoolers but is thwarted when best friend Troy gets noticed instead and is drafted by the football team; and Frankie becomes a bit embarrassed when she accidentally purchases some racy graphic underwear.
Frankie and Mike are embarrassed to admit that they once again forgot Brick's birthday. But their embarrassment turns to fright when they discover that he has turned 15, and it's time for them to teach their not-so-sure-footed son driver's ed. But when Axl takes a shot at letting Brick drive his Winnebago, he ends up running down one of Orson's most treasured landmarks. Meanwhile, while Sue anxiously tries to choose a college major before deadline, she learns a shocking secret from Frankie.
Frankie has come to the conclusion that April is not good enough for Axl and does everything in her power to keep her out of their annual Christmas family photo. But she finds herself vying for Axl's attention by trying to rearrange timing for the family's Thanksgiving dinner when she discovers that he plans to go to April's multiple family get-togethers that day. Meanwhile, Sue goes ballistic when she discovers that Brick will now be her new co-worker at Spudsy's.
As Christmas approaches, Sue keeps a holiday secret from the family; after agreeing to watch the neighbor's three kids, Brick finds himself trying to hide from them as they had such a good time that they keep wanting to come over and play; and Mike doesn't know how to react when Bill Norwood gives him a Christmas gift for the first time ever.
The Hecks find themselves spending New Year's Day attempting to stave off a zombie apocalypse in the Orson Escape Room, desperately trying to beat the Donahue's record of getting out with more than one minute, eight seconds to spare. Meanwhile, Brick is convinced that the mild-mannered man assigned to the family's Escape Room group is really the famous author of the "Planet Nowhere" books; Sue divulges a secret about herself to Axl that's she's been keeping since childhood; and Mike is stunned when Frankie reveals that she had a romantic dream involving Frank Sinatra.
Frankie is ecstatic when she wins free maid service for a month. But the Heck house turns out to be quite the frustrating challenge to clean. Meanwhile, when Mike and Rusty's dad, Big Mike, starts to have trouble taking care of himself at home, the brothers begrudgingly begin to look at assisted living facilities for him; and when the Winnebago gets too cold and dangerous to inhabit since snow is coming through a hole in the roof, Axl, Hutch and Kenny attempt to move in with Sue and Lexie in their temporary college housing.
Axl begins to panic when he realizes that he only has four months of college left before he graduates, and he hasn't sent out any job resumes - something he should have started when he was a junior. Meanwhile, Brad agrees to lead Sue's no-cut a cappella group as they enter a music competition, and Brick desperately asks for Frankie and Mike's advice when girlfriend Cindy tells him that he reads too much, and if he doesn't stop, she'll break up with him.
Frankie becomes sad when her doctor informs her that her ovaries are shriveled up, which means her days of having kids are over. In an attempt to cheer her up, Mike offers to have him and Frankie babysit the neighbor's baby overnight, which puts some perspective on being an older parent. Meanwhile, Sue and Axl are a bit shocked when romantic sparks fly between Sean Donahue and Sue's roommate Lexie; and Brick tries his best to hone up on his font knowledge when he meets Gibson, a worthy font opponent.
Frankie and Mike frantically attempt to shut off the water and save some treasured items when the pipes burst in the basement. But after freaking out and bickering amongst each other, Axl, Sue and Brick call a family intervention meeting to let their parents know that their constant fighting and bickering is negatively affecting them. But while the kids feel like they can benefit from their parents' newfound realization, Frankie and Mike start to think that the kids' lack of support makes them the ones who should be sorry.
After Frankie tries to get a stubborn Mike to go see Dr. Goodwin to take care of his toothache, Mike convinces the good doctor to leave his tooth alone and tell Frankie that everything was ok. But the two find themselves fabricating a story that's so ludicrous that they fear Frankie will figure out the truth. Meanwhile, since they are nearing the end of their senior year at college, Axl, Hutch and Kenny decide it's time to sell the fabled Winnebago; Sue tries her best to let college golf cart driver Tyler know that she likes him; and Brick attempts to write a historic Scottish rap musical - a la "Hamilton" - focusing on the life of Sergeant Charles Stuart MacKenzie.