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Series / Stuck in the Middle

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Stuck in the Middle is a Disney series that began airing in 2016 about a large Hispanic family, with seven children. The main character is Harley, the third of four girls and the fourth child overall, leaving her, well, stuck in the middle.

The show is rather unusual compared to other Disney Channel Kid Coms. Unlike other shows on the channel, it is a single-camera sitcom with no Laugh Track, the first since Jonas in 2009, and the first since Phil of the Future to not be produced by It's A Laugh Productions. Furthermore, the set of the house is much messier than most other homes, and there is a substantial amount of Parental Bonuses.

The show ended on July 23, 2018, after three full seasons.

The series shows examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Pervert: In one episode, Ethan has a camera pointing right at the entrance to the women's restroom, leading to many people giving him strange looks. However, he's just waiting to shoot a short film with his older sister, who is primping in the restroom (too long, much to his dismay).
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: When Georgie becomes the star of the golf team because of one of Harley's inventions.
  • Alpha Bitch: Rachel has this down pat, being arrogant, stuck-up and is the leader of her circle of friends known as "The Squad".
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Daphne seems to be fairly annoying to the older kids, which makes sense since she's also the youngest of 7 kids. The twins, Louie and Beast, also seem to be annoying, possibly even moreso than Daphne, but this is mostly when they are apart from one another.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Daphne, the youngest of the seven kids.
  • Back for the Finale: Rachel comes back in the final episode to save the day when preparations for Harley's quinceañera go wrong.
  • Bad Liar: Harley loses the ability to lie in the episode where Georgie joins the golf team, while Georgie is shown to usually be bad at lying.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The oldest three girls, with Rachel as the Beauty, Harley as the Brains, and Georgie as the Brawn.
  • Big Sister Mentor: In one episode, Rachel teaches Daphne how to be a star.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "Stuck in the Sweet Seat" is set on Harley's 13th birthday.
    • "Stuck in the Quinceañera" for Georgie.
    • "Stuck in Dad's Birthday" for Tom.
    • The Grand Finale "Stuck in Harley's Quinceañera" for Harley again.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Stuck in Lockdown" ends with all the siblings grounded and making the best of it.
    • A really emotional one occurs in “Stuck With Rachel’s Secret”; Rachel leaves her family to attend a fashion program overseas, leaving the rest of the family missing her and aren’t ready to take over her big sister role yet.
  • Book Ends: The second episode has Harley celebrate her thirteenth birthday. The Grand Finale revolves around her quinceañera.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: In one episode Daphne takes a ride in the laundry basket pulley system that Harley created for chores only, then pulls a crying fit when their mother comes to investigate. She blames it on Harley, who gets grounded. Daphne comes around by the end of the episode where she tries to lie to save Harley from getting busted.
  • Call-Back: In Stuck in a Gold Medal Performance when Georgie says to Suzy and Tom that the Diaz family isn't a traditional Hispanic family at all, Suzy defends themselves by saying how the family kept a Quinceañera for Georgie going during a hurricane in the episode Stuck in the Quinceañera.
  • Casting Gag: All of the main actors on the show are Hispanic, and the family they play is Hispanic on the show.
  • Character Development: In the earlier episodes, the older kids and Harley seem to be highly annoyed by the youngest three, but over the course of the season they start getting along much better, and they're basically all shown to have had at least one positive interaction with a child from the younger set (with the most prominent being Ethan and the twins, or Rachel and Daphne).
  • Christmas Episode: "Stuck at Christmas"
  • Clip Show: “Stuck in the Diaz Awards” has the family celebrate the annual family award show while recalling memories from the past two seasons.
  • Companion Cube: Daphne has her scraggly baby doll Deathnee.
  • Cool Big Sis: Georgie, Ethan, and even Harley spend a fair amount of time interacting with all of their younger siblings. Also, although Rachel initially seems like an Aloof Big Sister, she later starts to interact with the younger children as well as the older ones.
  • Daddy Issues: Aidan is often frustrated because his father keeps canceling on him. Harley later helps them learn to communicate better in "... Perfect Gift."
  • Daddy's Girl: Harley seems to be the closest child to her father.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Daphne seems to have difficulty pronouncing her R's. This is a trait that might disappear as she grows older.
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe, in "Stuck in the Diaz of Our Lives" the producers force a lot of changes while filming to make the Diaz family less like reality. They dismiss Harley's invention while making her change into a pink outfit, force the boys to sing as backup to an animated raccoon, to the twins' disgust, and pit Georgie and Rachel against each other as Rachel spreads embarrassing secrets about the family. Daphne's the only one who doesn't want out of the contract.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Harley mentions that she ought to have realized the reality show about the quintuplets was faked with two of the so-called siblings calling their mother "Aunt Jess".
  • The Fashionista: Rachel.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Stuck in the Diaz of Our Lives" the reality show producers mention that a previous show got cancelled due to a scandal about the star quintuplets actually being triplets and two cousins. When the producers start to film the Diazes as part of a new reality show, they invoke Executive Meddling that makes the entire family except Daphne miserable.
  • Forgotten Birthday: What sets up the plot for "Stuck in the Sweet Seat". The Diazes forget Harley's birthday and she plots to use their guilt to get the best seat in the car.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Harley is a amateur inventor and is very skilled at tinkering with things.
  • Genki Girl: Harley, very much.
  • Halloween Episode: "Stuck in a Merry Scary"
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Harley has to make it through an entire day of school without getting detention in order to get a much desired indoor skydiving session. When she sees a substitute teacher who despises the Diaz children and is known for giving them detentions for that reason, Ellie takes over Harley's identity for the day to ensure all the hostility is directed towards her. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues. It also happened to be Picture Day.
  • Huddle Shot: The Diazes have one together in "Stuck at Christmas".
  • Hypocrite: In Lockdown, Harley accuses Daphne for manipulating their parents into getting what she wants at Harley's and their older siblings' expense, but in "Stuck In Harley's Comet", Harley had no qualms doing the same thing to her dad at the expense of Rachel.
  • I Am Spartacus: Ellie does this in "Stuck in the School Photo" to take the heat for Harley messing with Mr. Delorco, which prompts Harley to start a Twin Switch for the episode.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title starts with "Stuck in/with/at".
  • It's All About Me: In Harley's birthday episode, Harley sums it up perfectly: "Rachel is all about Rachel."
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: When Rachel receives a red light traffic infraction notice, she sets up an elaborate scheme to trick Suzy into thinking she was the one ticketed. To really sell the idea, Rachel "finds" the coffee cup from the infraction photo in the car with Suzy written on it. After Rachel leaves, Suzy smirks while examining the coffee cup. She later reveals to Rachel whenever she orders coffee, she does so using the name Celeste for her own personal amusement.
  • Indestructible Edible: The fruitcake given to the Diaz family every year by their abuela. Usually discarded unwrapped and uneaten as soon as it arrives. Harley notes that consuming it will result in significant digestive complications.
  • Jerkass Realization: Harley when Daphne wants to sell their hula hoop because they haven't played with it in years, and that Harley has been ignoring her little sister.
  • The Klutz: Georgie, despite being a basketball player, is pretty uncoordinated at times.
  • The Leader: In most situations, everyone in the family (yes, including the parents) count on Harley to call the shots.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: With her to-camera monologues, Harley does this often.
    • When the family becomes the subject of a reality tv show, Harley freezes up while looking at the interview camera when requested to talk to it. Then she turns to the show camera and says "I'm not sure if I can do this whole talking to camera thing".
  • Massively Numbered Siblings: 7 kids in one family.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Harley is the middle sibling with three older and three younger siblings.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rachel.
  • My Beloved Smother: Ms. Peters with regards to her only daughter, Ellie.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Bethany Peters, who loathes the family, is always on the lookout for their mischief.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Harley's best friend, Ellie, is an only child and also has a very overprotective mother.
  • Opening Shout-Out: Done in "Stuck in the School Photo" when Ellie assumes Harley's identity to prevent her getting detention, and we get a whiff of the theme song from Ellie's perspective as the only lyrics we hear are Ellie's auto-tuned voice saying, "I am Harley Diaz!".
  • Parental Obliviousness: Played straight in "Stuck with a Guy on the Couch" where the kids rent their living room to a foreign exchange student for a couple days in their home without their parents figuring it out.
    • Subverted multiple times like in "Stuck with No Rules", "... Bad Influence" and "... New Friend" where the parents figure out what the kids are up to but play along to see how far the kids will go.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Rachel spends most of her rather limited screentime on her phone or at in front of a screen.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • At the end of “Stuck with a Bad Influence”, Harley’s friend Ellie is sent to a boarding school called Radistone Academy.
    • In “Stuck With Rachel’s Secret”, Rachel leaves the Diaz family to attend college in Paris, France.
  • Rounded Character: Despite being the toughest and the meanest Diaz, Daphne has also been shown to be sentimental and vulnerable in multiple episodes including "Stuck in the Dark, "... Lockdown", " and "... Dangerous House."
    • Harley, the de facto hero is often shown to be a rule breaker, manipulative, pushy and sometimes mean. Many of her plots involve Harley manipulating other people including her family to do what she wants.
    • Aidan is introduced as Harley's annoying neighbor but develops to a character with a lot of depth and Daddy Issues.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In “Stuck In the Sweet Seat”, Suzy apologizes to Harley for forgetting her birthday and gives her the best seat in the car as a present...but it turns out she won’t be getting it for another four years (when she turns 17).
  • Show Within a Show: There are several shows, the most recurring ones being:
    • Dancing With My Dad - dancing competition show featuring fathers dancing with their daughters. The Diazes eventually become contestants in "Stuck Dancing with My Dad."
    • Dance Dads - show about dads whose daughters dance; parody of Dance Moms.
    • Man vs Dumpster - Lewie and Beast's favorite show about Dumpster Jack who eats food from dumpsters.
    • Shouty Housewives of New England - Rachel's favorite reality show, a parody of shows like Real Housewives of New Jersey
  • Smelly Skunk: At the very end of the episode "Stuck in the Slushinator" when a skunk sprays the whole family which the camera took the picture.
  • Take That!: In "Stuck in the Diaz of Our Lives" the reference to the quintuplets show being cancelled over a scandal is a dig at 19 Kids and Counting being cancelled on TLC, though the latter case had less family-friendly reasons.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Stuck at Christmas" as everyone is in their bus to Abuela's:
    Harley: We're still on track to be at Abuela's by Christmas.
  • Thirteenth Birthday Milestone: Harley is having her 13th birthday in the episode "Stuck in the Sweet Seat", but nobody remembers her birthday. Harley believes her parents will feel guilty about forgetting her special day and decides to use that "guilt" to get the best seat in the family car as a present — the sweet seat, reserved for the oldest child, Rachel. To ensure she gets the sweet seat, and as soon as her siblings realize it's her birthday, Harley urges them to stay quiet about it for the rest of the day and distract Suzy and Tom from remembering. In trying to keep her birthday a secret, Harley endures demands from Daphne to keep quiet, as well as getting into trouble. Later that night, Georgie reminds Harley how precious celebrating birthdays with the family is becoming, as the older siblings will soon be leaving home. That prompts Harley to let go of her desire for the sweet seat and let the family know about her big day. As for that sweet seat, she can wait.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rachel and Georgie are the oldest two kids, with Rachel being a fashionista and Georgie being a basketball player. Overall, Harley seems to be a fair bit of a tomboy as well, while Daphne is quite girly, at least fashion-wise, although both of them are much more middle-of-the-road than the oldest two.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: While Daphne does seem to like the color pink and spends most of the pilot with makeup smeared on her face, she seems to be just as active as her older brothers, and also seems to like bossing the twins around, despite being three years younger than they are. She also doesn't like wearing dresses.
    • Some episodes also show Georgie, the most tomboyish of the four girls in the family, is just as boy-crazy as Rachel, who is the girliest of the four.
  • Town Girls: Rachel and Daphne are Femme, Georgie is Butch, and Harley is Neither.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Daphne has demonstrated that she can be incredibly manipulative, or even bossy which is especially striking in contrast to her adorable Elmuh Fudd Syndwome. For example, she got Beast and Lewie to do anything she tells them, including things their dad couldn't get them to do.
    • One episode shows her favorite TV shows are actually political debates; she comments on her concerns about the current fiscal year.
  • Twin Switch: Harley and Ellie pull one in "Stuck in the School Photo".
  • Two Guys and a Girl: In season 3, the sibling set seen together most often is the three youngest: Lewie, Beast, and Daphne.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played for laughs when the twins at camp toss "Ron" off a room; their mother freaks until she learns Ron is a crash test dummy. She then goes back to sleep on top of the dishes she's washing.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Beast.
    • It is possible this is just his nickname, due to his animalistic behavior.
  • Wild Teen Party: Rachel and Georgie toss one while working at their dad's smoothie shop. Rachel points out that they made money for the smoothie place, however, and Georgie says she's "not sorry" since it was so much fun.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Daphne pulls one on Harley in "Stuck in Lockdown", resulting in her punished for the episode.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The only way for Ethan to fit in between Georgie and Harley in the birth order. Harley explicitly turns 13 in an early season 1 episode, while Georgie doesn't turn 15 until nearly season two. The bare minimum amount of time for there to be two to-term pregnancies (6 months is the bare minimum at which a fetus can survive outside the womb) with minimum amount of healing time between births (6 weeks each) is 18 months, which just barely fits in the needed time frame (and possibly doesn't at all). The wikia reveals that Georgie was born in July 2000, Ethan in November 2001 (so almost a year and a half right there), and Harley in ... April 2002. This means that Harley was born 5 months after Ethan (so, in order to be full-term, would have had to be conceived 4 months into Ethan's pregnancy). (sometimes the wait time in between pregnancies is not so straightforward and there are many instances where people get pregnant with less time in between with completely healthy babies but even if she got pregnant the second after having him the '5 months after Ethan' thing it is possible (preemie's exist) but pushing it.)
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Just as Harley's mother makes a chunk in her to-do list while the twins are at camp, the counselors keep calling her to tell on the kids. When she lies down when all the kids at home are grounded, she gets the call that the twins have been kicked out of the camp, after only one day. She snarks that they did better than expected.
    • In “Stuck In the Sweet Seat”, Harley only has one small slice of cake to eat, which Suzy offers, only for Daphne to swipe it and never get scolded.
  • You Are Grounded!: Exaggerated with Lockdown; the kids are not only forbidden from leaving their rooms but anything fun is taken away.