ABC's "The Middle" doesn't get the recognition, ratings or Emmy Awards that "Modern Family" does, but the cast and creators are fine with cruising under the radar if they can continue producing more episodes.
"I say slow and steady wins the race," series star Neil Flynn rationalized at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.
Despite averaging a middling 2.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic this season -- a feeble number compared to the 5.4 for "Modern Family" and the 6.4 for CBS's top-rated "Big Bang Theory" -- "The Middle" has lasted 83 episodes over the course of four seasons. (The rating counts live viewing plus seven days of DVR viewing.)
"Before you know it, we'll have done 120 episodes," Flyn continued. "I'd much rather be underrated than overrated."
And although the show the has only been nominated for one Emmy -- in the Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) category -- executive producers Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline joke that they consider it an award every time critics label the show "underrated."
In fact, they revel in "kindly being called under-appreciated" so much that star Patricia Heaton jokes that they have developed a drinking game for every time the show receives the compliment.
"We're on fourth season with a show that people love and we're incredibly, incredibly grateful for that," Heaton concluded, in all seriousness. "Would it be nice to have more? Yeah, but it's fantastic and I certainly can't complain."