Autistic Representation in The Media – Brick Heck (The Middle)

I used to watch this series a lot when it aired on Sky One. I thought it was funny and entertaining to watch. One character in particular is Brick Heck.

Now, Unlike The Good Doctor, Brick hasn’t got a specific diagnosis, instead he has traits. This is very common in TV shows, that way there is no specific labels. A recent article on Big Bang Theory about autistic labels mentions this topic.

I’m personally divided on this. On one hand, it’s good to see people as people regardless of labels, however, it’s good to have a signal or a label for those who want a role model. It’s beneficial to have specifically autistic people so we have an example of a autistic character, but the disadvantage of this is stereotypes and tropes.

Brick’s lack of awareness, whispering to himself, and his special interests of books and vague things are among some of the traits that can be relatable to an autistic person. Brick has been labelled as an “autistic” character outside of the show, despite not being labelled as such in the series canon.

How Brick is portrayed on the show is quirky, that the parents have no idea how to deal with him. The only diagnosis that we know of is that he has is Osteogenesis imperfecta Type IV (The actor actually has this disease).

  • Let’s analyse this video.

Brick disregards the awareness around him and his main goal was to ask his parents about a book on Peru. When Frankie Heck (the mother) says to check online. Brick expresses his need of reading a book as you can feel it. It’s disrupting his normality on how to gather knowledge. The internet is a new thing, books have always been there for him.

Once he finds the internet and the endless supply of information, the naive side of Brick comes out. The way it’s portrayed in this show is seen as adorable and funny. The humour doesn’t rely on humiliation, it’s more that his naivety can project “relatable homour”. The way he binges the internet over the most random of things is a good example of this humour. I do the exact same thing on Wikipedia!

Brick, in my opinion has many traits that may seem odd to others, but these traits are what make the character. We all have traits such as loving special interests or repeat the same phrases, why do we like it in a fictional character but not in real life? Unless it’s a problem or an obstacle in life, why can’t we embrace these “quirks” in others? Brick’s “whoop” tick in later seasons shows that quirks can change as you age, which is definitely relatable for an autistic audience. Some might find his whispering annoying, but it’s good to see a repetitive behaviour be consistent for a character who’s seen as “weird” to the rest of the cast.

Not everyone has a diagnosis, so seeing a character who doesn’t have one can be relatable to that specific audience. It can also open up to a larger audience for the Neurodivergent.

Has anyone else seen this show? What does Brick as a character mean to you? Do you think he’s somewhere in the spectrum?



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