The Middle premiered a week after Modern Family, the ratings and Emmys sensation that became ABC's flagship comedy and tonal north star. But The Middle has been just as important in its own low-key way, representing white, blue-collar Middle America in the network's far-ranging lineup. It never got the attention or the accolades of some of the network's more high-profile comedies, but it helped shape the network's comedy identity as a place for family comedy from all perspectives.
Before the Season 9 premiere, the Heck family -- Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer -- sat down with TV Guide at the Television Critics Association summer preview and reflected on what they think the show's legacy will be.
Patricia Heaton said it best: "We weren't nominated for Emmys, but I think our presence was an important one," she said. "It might not seem edgy or cool, but it was the only show that was really representing working-class Americans, and that's an important presence on television."
See what the rest of the cast has to say about "the best television show ever" in the video above.
The Middle's farewell season premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 8/7c on ABC.
Reporting by Sadie Gennis