Patricia Heaton and 'The Middle' celebrate Mother's Day

the-middle-mothers-day.jpg "The Middle" didn't begin the season with as much hype as its fellow ABC comedies "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town," but it quietly become every bit as funny as the other shows.

"It's been one of those ones that sort of slowly took off, series star Patricia Heaton tells Zap2it, adding with a laugh, "I don't think people had high expectations for our show. So it's taken a little bit longer, but people really are just loving it."

Like its Wednesday-night compatriots, "The Middle" has managed to strike a good balance between showing that Frankie Heck (Heaton) and her husband Mike ( Neil Flynn) really love their three kids ( Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer) and not being afraid to show any of their numerous imperfections and eccentricities.

"On the one hand, you want to kill your kids, but on the other hand, you'd die for them. It's just a weird thing to be a parent," Heaton says. "You have such love for them -- and the wanting to kill them part is you have these years of experience ... and you know if they would just do what you tell them, they could avoid a lot of pain. But they don't. They can't -- they just have to go through what they go through, and that's where you'd just die for them."

The show celebrates Mother's Day on Wednesday (May 5) with an episode guest-starring Marsha Mason ("The Goodbye Girl," "Frasier") as Frankie's (Heaton) mom.

"It's very much about, for Frankie, how she compares Mother's Day to Father's Day. Mother's Day is always a lot of work for her, and Father's Day, Mike [Neil Flynn] is king of the world. ... I drive to my mom's to be together with her and kind of unload my frustration on her, which doesn't go over so well."

The show will close its season with a guest-starring turn from Betty White as Brick's (Shaffer) school librarian, and Heaton says she's already pitched an idea for next season.

"This year at my home, we had a foreign exchange student stay with us for 10 days, and every day at work I came in and reported the awkwardness," she says. "We started talking about how hilarious it would be to have a foreigner observing the Heck family lifestyle, so I think we may be seeing them host an exchange student next season."

Here's a peek at "Mother's Day."



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Photo credit: ABC