Most TV families are chaotic, but the Wilkersons take it to another level. Both parents work full-time in order to pay the bills (and barely, at that), and in the meantime their sons wreak havoc. Their mischievous exploits are legendary, though crashing a golf cart through their family reunion’s catered lunch and then into a swimming pool because people were mean to their mom might be my personal favorite. The kids get up to a lot of trouble, but most of the time it’s good-natured (or at least understandable). They’re chaos creatures, each in their own way, and they’re all incredibly lovable (even Reese). I was a kid when “Malcolm in the Middle” first aired, which made me really appreciate the fact that the kids on “Malcolm in the Middle” feel real. Sometimes their exploits go above and beyond what my childhood neighbors might have been able to get away with, but that’s the magic of TV, right? The kids themselves are just as selfish, single-minded, and immature as real kids, and the child actors playing them are all excellent.
Everyone in the weird world of “Malcolm in the Middle” seems like a slightly heightened version of someone plucked from our own mundane one, and it’s refreshingly real while still being fiercely funny. It’s a rare series that’s just as fun and watchable for kids as well as adults, and watching it again now that I’m in my 30s is funny in entirely new ways that I never could have anticipated. Sure, Malcolm talks to the screen and is our viewpoint character, but it’s hard not to feel for Hal and Lois.