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Headscratchers / Malcolm in the Middle

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  • Pretty minor, but in the episode where one of Francis' coworkers in Alaska (really old guy) sends for a mail-order bride and it turns out to be an inflatable likeness of some actress, he says he must have misread the product. My question: how could someone misread blow-up doll as bride?
    • Russian magazine? The ad being extremely vague about what it was offering? The guy's actually senile?
    • I'm pretty sure it was a scam.
  • What happened to that girl Nicki that Malcolm was dating? I haven't seen the episodes in a linear fashion, and they seemed to have a pretty good relationship.
    • Hal kicks Malcolm out, so Malcolm hides out in Nicki's attic for a few days. She dumps him when he keeps whining about his life and not listening to any of her problems. She seemed to go back and forth about whether his complaining was endearing or annoying up until this episode, so it's probably having to spend an extended amount of time with him that wore her down.
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    • The same thing happened with that cheerleader girl who liked Reese and even got past his instinctive behaviour of constantly pranking or harassing her.
      • That is, she just suddenly disappeared (I'm currently rewatching the series in order, and I don't remember her showing up after that episode, despite sort of watching for her reappearance). Reese didn't hide in her attic or even, as far as I recall, get any closure.
  • How could the episode "If Boys were Girls" be the only instance where a child welfare agent suspect the family of abusing the boys? Wouldn't their frequent criminal behavour be enough evidence to investigate their home?
    • Only Reese ever does anything serious as Francis is always away now.
      • It also may be possible that they did come to the household about the boys, but were somehow scared off from doing anything about it. In the episode Hal goes insane and tries to board the boys up in their rooms due to the realization the family don't have medical coverage, Reese threatens to contact them, saying "and they'll show up this time!"
      • That sounds more like the boys have called many times in the past, the agents have shown up and found nothing at the end of their investigation (let's remember that Lois always manages to convince people of stuff). I think the boys are now notorious for crying wolf at the child services place.
  • In season six, Francis turns 21, the youngest you are legally able to drink alcohol. But in the season 5 Thanksgiving episode, Francis tells Lois that his argument with Piama came about when she didn't want him drinking and driving. Knowing Lois, why was her only reaction telling Francis to apologize to Piama for the argument? You'd think underage drinking coupled with driving drunk would make Lois go BALLISTIC.
    • Perhaps the stuff that Francis has done in the past (which included a car crash, with the car on fire, in a montage) was so bad that drinking and driving felt almost 'tame' in comparison? Or perhaps it deals with Lois trying to teach Francis that, now that he is married, he needs to become more responsible and learn to listen to his wife, who was actually right?
  • Malcom's current personality transitioned from an epiphany, so what was going on when Lois was preaching her animal instincts at telling who is feeling what? Malcolm's stupid acts at times clearly indicates emotional stress damage.
  • For someone so proactive in well-oiled discipline, Lois never put much thought on Hal after a long period of time. It's kind of sad that she can consistently scream her children into submission while Hal, who is much older but carries an average teenage mentality, is always off the hook. It isn't like he skipped work every Friday right?
    • Also, it's quite clear that Lois is trying to become the female, adult version of Malcolm. Even if the extent is nowhere implied, it just seems like her ability to redirect imperfection with logic has an uncanny similarity with Malcolm.
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    • Well, in the episode when she finds that out (skipping work every Friday), the revelation gets him out of a lengthy jail sentence, and she does scream at him for it. Also he is meeker and doesn't cause near as much trouble as his sons (or is better at hiding it, or cleaning it up). That, and when his boys cause trouble or things go wrong, he has to deal with the fallout as much as she does, whereas Lois main beef with the boys is how little they comprehend responsibility or the realities of life she and Hal have to live through. Hal doesn't usually break the law or cause senseless trouble for the family with his shenanigans.
    • Maybe it's because he's her husband and not her kid and generally spouses don't discipline each other unless, you know, it's in a pre-agreed upon kinky way?
    • It's mentioned in one episode that Lois broke Hal down. He used to be as bad as the boys, but after years of hounding and punishing him etc., he finally just behaved for the most part.
  • Given some of Francis' depraved actions (and despite what he likes to claim, it was implied that he was always like that and didn't become that due to parental abuse), why didn't Hal and Lois send Francis to an insane asylum? Logically, that would have been the most appropriate place for someone like him, not a military school, given that he is pretty much insane and needs psychological help (assuming, of course, he could be helped).
    • Francis' actions are definitely better the longer he is out of his home. Maybe the only psychological help he needed was to get out of there!
    • "Insane" is really, really stretching it. Francis isn't delusional, he's not out of touch with reality, he's got delinquent tendencies and acts out against authority. If that's "insane," then half of today's youth should be in straight jackets.
      • Tell that to his toddler self pouring gasoline/lighter fluid onto his teddy bear with the intention of setting it on fire, or being a child torturing his brothers, or apparently scarring Reese with a bayonet. Heck, not only was Francis doing something like that before his mom got strict, but the incident with the bear is the reason why Lois snapped and became strict. Besides, just because someone's neither out of touch with reality nor delusional doesn't mean they aren't insane. I mean, look at Kefka Palazzo or Professor Hojo.
      • You're placing the blame on a toddler? seriously? I mean, yeah, what he did was pretty awful, but that's only because of Hal and Lois shitty parental skills. Each and every one of the boys demonstrated that they were actually *better* without Hal or Lois' influence on them(Hell, Dewey taught himself piano). I'm not saying they are entirely to blame either, but having some therapy for their own fucked up upbringing would have helped the family A LOT.
    • Why does no one ever mention the episode where Lois admits she tortures Francis because "he started it" (Lois had to stay at the hospital and Francis went home happy)
    • You should have seen some of the kids I grew up with...
    • I think the deal is that Lois and Hal really didn't know anything about kids when they had Francis, Hal was under a lot of stress with his job and they didn't exactly have amazingly supporting family to help them. The combination of Francis being difficult and Lois wanting to protect her children by any means necessary got them into an unhealthy cycle of the children rebelling while Lois is way too strict and why she overreacts to even small things.
  • Okay, I'll just out and say it - Exactly how is the series ending supposed to be positive? Lois has apparently decided to continue her emotional abuse of Malcolm well into adulthood, and if she succeeds, will place an emotionally unstable man with mother issues as President. Not to mention that all the "hardships" she expects him to solve were caused by the family's own dysfunction and selfish behavior.
    • Malcolm was an egotistical bastard and Lois wanted to humble him by keeping him off the easy path. This would cure him of his insufferable genius tendencies and make him value others.
      • That's her plan. However, unnecessary hardship does not necessarily make a person better. The entire family suffers like Malcolm does largely as a result of their own actions, but they're still irresponsible maniacs.
      • Exactly, the family has ALL suffered because of their own actions, yet haven't learnt one iota from it. If anything, Malcolm is going to grow up thinking it's totally cool to manipulate people into fitting the image YOU have for them, and take the abuse from your parents with good humor because "they're family" or whatever bullshit message it was they tried to tack on in the last episode. I think thats the worst part, the characters are constantly confronted, barraged even, by proof that their behavior is wrong, but do they change? No. Do they even care? No no. It has its moments of comedy, but when the writers expects us to sympathize with that, they've gone way over the line.
    • I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be positive.
  • A Thanksgiving episode has Reese take eighty dollars from Hal's wallet. Do perpetually poor people normally carry around that much money in their wallets?
    • No, they don't, but remember that the family actually isn't poor. Lois, and especially Hal are incredibly stupid about their money, and the boys constantly cause huge property damage. Most of the struggle with money comes from the level of financial abuse the main characters subject each other to.
  • Why does everyone panic over Reese' future? Why does he angst over what sort of genius he is? With his culinary skills he should able to do fine.
    • Short answer: He's an idiot that can't behave himself. There are several episodes that show that Reese has potential to have an happy, if not ideal life if he could stop making pranks and stupid things at his job place. He *is* a culinary genius, but even with that he would have to behave himself to be able to get (and hold) any kind of job.
    • There was that one episode where Reese is capable of living by himself, although he had no idea he could wash his clothes. He'll probably be fine once he learns how to do laundry.
      • Except he wasn't, he was using credit cards to pay for everything (like buying new clothes each time his got dirty rather then washing them) and transferring the debt to new credit cards rather then paying it off. He couldn't make it with out putting himself into crushing debt that would eventually catch up with him.
  • How did Mr. Herkabee keep his job for so long? At the end of the first episode, the boys in his class are seen acting crazy (save for Malcolm), and the girls are in a near-fetal position. All of this is seen by the superintendent or some other important figure. You'd think he would have lost his job after that, but no, he kept it and mentally abused kids on a daily basis. Somehow he was made a disciplinarian of Malcolm's high school and even kept a cattle prod in his desk. How did no one find out about that? Even the teachers can't carry weapons at school. How did he not get fired despite being such a horrible person and teacher? It's not like he kept it a secret, and he didn't have the money to bribe anyone.
  • When Lois got pregnant with Jamie, they claimed that they wouldn't be able to afford it. However they would have been in the same situation, needing to support four children, when Dewey was born, and Francis had emancipated himself. Furthermore, Francis was slowly paying back his loans, and one or both of the parents should have gotten a raise in the twelve years.
    • The cost of living is always going up, and has been outstripping inflation and most raises for quite some time. And assuming either of them got a raise is, well, way too idealistic.
      • I'd have to rewatch the episode, but they might not mean financially; look at the kids they raised, and they aren't the best parents either. They might have meant that another kid would basically burn the house down, they couldn't afford to have another kid in the sense that a student can't afford to have another failing test.
      • Additionally, a baby's needs are significantly higher than an older child's, especially in the first year or so of life. Doctor's visits during the pregnancy, baby food/formula, baby-sitting or daycare fees—hell, diapers alone are a small fortune.
  • In one episode, Lois meets up with a group of women for a book club. Then it turns out none of them actually read the books, they just get together to relax and rant. But why bother pretending it's a book club? Why not just say they're getting together, or having a night out? Maybe it started out as an attempt at an actual book club, but why not just drop it after going a while without reading anything?
    • To fool their husbands, of course. The idea of their wives attending a boring old book club probably goes over most of their husbands heads, they couldnt't care less. But if they knew their wives were getting together and gossiping - sharing all their marital secrets... They may be not as comfortable with the idea. And I can't remember exactly, were the girls drinking also? Another reason the men wouldn't be happy.
      • Yes, the ladies were drinking, with their drunken state even leading to them doing things they considered funny at the end of the episode.
    • Book clubs simply being a hangout with women sounds like a comedy trope. I've seen it on the Simpsons.
  • When Lois is pregnant with Jamie, she and Hal have a fight where he admits that he didn't go through with a vasectomy, the way Lois wanted. Male pride or whatever, he doesn't want to do anything to 'his boys'. It's rare that it happens, but a vasectomy can revert itself and make the man able to impregnant women again. And if Lois is so intent on not having anymore children, cause they can barely keep up with the five they had at that point, including Jamie, why didn't she get a hysterectomy? Sure, it's not a cheap surgery, but neither is a vasectomy. And a hysterectomy is much 'safer', since it cannot revert itself.
    • You don't get a hysterectomy to stop having kids, you get a tubal ligation. This can also revert itself. It's a much more expensive, more invasive surgery with a higher risk of complications, a longer recovery time and a higher likelihood of failure. There is a reason that when a couple decide on a surgical birth control method, it's usually a vasectomy.


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