Episode 101 – Pilot
Sue auditions for show choir; Brick asks Frankie to come to his class presentation dressed in a costume; Frankie thinks she has finally sold a car.
If you ever found yourself flying over the middle of the country, be sure to look out the window as you pass over Orson, Indiana, home to the world’s largest polyurethane cow. It’s also home to Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) and her, let’s just call them eclectic, family.
As we learn through Frankie’s narration, she and her husband Mike (Neil Flynn) are the heads of a two-job family. Mike manages a bunch of boneheads down at the quarry and Frankie is a salesperson at the town’s last surviving car dealership. Her only ally at work is Bob (Chris Kattan), a true friend who always has her back. They both must deal with the dealership’s obnoxious top salesman Pete and their demanding boss, Mr. Elhert.
At home, Frankie’s teenage son, Axl (Charlie McDermott), likes to walk around the house in his underwear whenever he’s not hibernating in his room. Sweet daughter Sue (Eden Sher) has been going through a bit of an awkward stage for the past 13 years. And young son Brick (Atticus Shaffer) is very smart and very quirky. Or, as his teacher says, “clinically quirky”. The little guy totally cracks us up as he enjoys whispering to no one in particular.
Frankie is desperately trying to balance career and family. She multitasks by picking up Brick from school while taking a prospective customer on a test drive. We’re thinking Brick is bucking for dibs on the commission when he hops in back and says the seats come with “optional leather trim and preferred suede inserts.” Love it!
As busy as she is, Frankie always finds time to make dinner for her family. And she always serves it the same way, in a bag filled with wax paper-wrapped fast food. And the Heck family always eats dinner together, usually in front of the TV during Dancing with the Stars. We’re guessing they put down the burgers and fries when it comes time to vote.
Mike gets mad at Axl after he gets suspended from the football team. Apparently, he called his coach a moron. Axl’s defense is that Mike always calls the coach a moron. That’s only because the coach called for a bomb on fourth and one. Mike and Frankie are at a loss as to how to punish Axl. Frankie says, “If only he had like a car or a TV or a cell phone… something good we could take away from him.” No such luck.
As for Sue, she tries out for Show Choir and, to her parents amazement, makes the final cut. The entire family attends the first competition to find Sue is a stagehand, not a performer in the show. Still, she seems very happy and that makes mom and dad proud as they wave to her from the audience. Sue waves back, missing a cue to position a set piece. This initiates a disastrous (and hilarious) chain reaction in which the entire set is destroyed and the only person left standing on stage is Sue. You have to admit, the girl’s a showstopper!
Brick constantly tells his mom that she’s his hero, even though she doesn’t always feel like one. As it turns out, Brick meant it literally. He’s doing a book report on Superwoman and he needs Frankie to come to his class in a superhero costume as a visual aid. Of course, we know Frankie won’t let her son down. She shows up to his class in full Superwoman attire. Unfortunately, it’s on the wrong day. She looks great in a cape though.
Frankie rushes back to the dealership in her superhero outfit to close a deal with a previous customer, but she’s a little stressed during her sales pitch. The customer is also a mother of three and understands how hard it is for Frankie. They bond as they go out on a test drive-turned-joyride. After possibly hitting something in the road, Frankie hops out to make sure there’s no damage to the car. The driver then takes off leaving Frankie behind in a cloud of dust. Turns out this unexpected car thief really is a mother of three kids… all of them in jail.
So who can you call when you’re left stranded in the middle of nowhere? Well, your family, of course. “Rough day?” Mike asks as he rolls up in the car to find his superhero wife stuffing her face with a discarded snack cake she found in the road. Frankie can’t help but smile through the chocolate cream residue on her face as her husband and three kids have come to take her home. We’re smiling too. They even brought her dinner, having made it just like she does, in a bag full of wax paper – wrapped fast food. We’re just wondering if they’ll make it home in time for Dancing with the Stars.
Episode 102 – The Cheerleader
Frankie organizes a publicity stunt in hopes of saving her job, Sue discovers she needs glasses. Brick starts reading his mother’s romance novels.
As we’ve come to learn, Mike Heck is brutally honest. He doesn’t surgarcoat things. Ever! So it’s usually up to Frankie to pick up the pieces whenever reality hits hard. She’s like the family cheerleader.
As Frankie sorts through the daily mail, it suddenly dawns on her that it’s 2009. It seems the Heck family purchased a wide variety of household items that didn’t require payment until 2009. And like we said, it’s 2009! Frankie is optimistic though. She feels they’ll be fine as long as the dryer holds out and she finally sells a car. Too bad the dryer dies and Frankie is currently “minus one” in the car sales department.
The family must cut corners, which means a trip to the Frugal Hoosier, Indiana’s best “expired food” store. When it comes to the meat sold at this place, everything must go—today! But the grocery shopping is cut short when Bob calls to tell Frankie she has to come to work early for an emergency meeting.
The kids have their own issues. Sue is psyched to try out for the swim team and needs someone to take her to the pool. Brick desperately wants to check out a book from the library. Unfortunately, Frankie’s library card shows a fine of $189 and, as we know, the funds are low. So Brick is bookless for now. Axl is being punished for lying to his folks. For two weeks, he must stay within five feet of a parent at all times.
At the emergency meeting, Frankie’s boss asks for ideas to help the car dealership. While shopping at the Frugal Hoosier, Frankie noticed the Ronald Reagan inaugural jellybeans were on sale. She suggests to her boss that they fill a car with jellybeans as part of a “guess how many are in there” contest. The boss likes the idea and decides not to fire Frankie until at least next week.
Mike takes all the kids to the pool. Axl is still doing the five-foot thing by sitting next to his dad and Brick doesn’t want to go in the water because “swimming’s no fun without a book”. Sue, however, is jazzed to do her laps. Too bad her sense of direction is so lousy that she keeps hitting her head on the wall.
[Break] Sue is crushed because Mike says she should absolutely NOT try out for the swim team. Told ya he was brutally honest. But this doesn’t sit well with Frankie, who wants him to cheer her on no matter how bad she sucks at swimming. Sue discovers she needs glasses after an eye test at school. This could explain why she’s so clumsy. Of course, glasses cost money. Fortunately, the Frugal Hoosier has an optical department.
At the dealership, a car is filled with jellybeans. Unfortunately, no one bothered to count them before they shut the driver’s side door. Brick saves the day by giving them a really larger number that sounds like it could be true. Frankie feels her boy deserves a book after bailing her out, so she hits the library again and cons a kid into checking one out on his card. The promotion is a huge success until they open the door to discover all the jellybeans have coagulated into one giant stuck-together lump. It appears Frankie is now “negative two” in auto sales.
Things go from bad to worse when Frankie shows up at the pool. New glasses don’t help Sue with her swimming. She’s lousy even with solid eyesight. She crashes into Brick who drops that borrowed library book into the water. Then, a tornado hits. You heard us… a tornado!
Back in the Heck’s family basement, Frankie has a total meltdown. She can’t be the family cheerleader anymore. They can’t afford a new dryer, they can’t afford expired food and she never should have ordered that LCD light-up angel that was supposed to be surprise at Christmas. But then Mike looks at her and says, “Frankie, we’ll make it through.” And since Mike is always brutally honest, Frankie realizes it must be the truth. She says via voiceover, “Wow, who knew I was living with my own personal cheerleader.” Loved it.
The storm ends and things start looking up immediately. The family steps outside to a beautiful site. Sitting on their front lawn is a brand new dryer. Yes, the tornado gave them a dryer. And when the mail comes they discover that some stupid bank approved them for a new credit card. No payments till 2012!