First broadcast way back in the year 2000, Malcolm in the Middle ran for a whopping seven seasons and 151 episodes. Extremely popular, the show received critical acclaim, winning a number of awards in the process. Following the lives of a dysfunctional family, the show stars child actor Frankie Muniz, and his relationship with his other family members. Set in a suburban neighborhood, Malcolm and his 3 brothers are regularly involved in a number of scraps, resulting in punishments from his overbearing mother and immature father.
Different from the other sitcoms of the time, Malcolm regularly broke the fourth wall, talking directly to the viewer and the audiences at home. Also filmed without a laughter track nor a live studio audience, the show was a force to be reckoned with, detailing a whole new approach to half hour dramas. That’s right, like a real life version of The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle had all the right ingredients to make it work. From a lower middle class family, to unruly children, the cartoonist element and comedic gags were what set it apart from anything else.
With the show ending in 2006, and the characters all grown up, the series has gained somewhat of a cult following. So, to celebrate its success as the groundbreaking show that it was, here are 15 little known facts about Malcolm in the Middle.
15. Everybody Loved Bryan Cranston
Of course they did! Surely everybody loves Bryan Cranston right? Playing the role of the over-emotional and immature father, Hal, Cranston was adored off set just as he was ridiculed on set. With star Christopher Masterson, who played elder Francis, recently revealing that episodes often took longer than usual to shoot due to Cranston’s antics, it is no surprise to see why everyone loved the famed actor. In fact, directing a number of episodes himself, Masterson admitted, “It was absolutely impossible to stop yourself from laughing, the scenes took so long to shoot as Bryan made everyone laugh over and over.” Known for being somewhat of a joker throughout his movie and television work, Cranston has often been called the nicest guy in Hollywood, with a number of celebs lining up to say nice things about him.
14. Malcolm Was Originally Supposed To Be Younger
With the character originally written as a nine-year-old boy, Frankie Muniz, then thirteen, decided to audition anyway. Thinking he had blown the audition as soon as it was over, Muniz was said to have told his mother that there was no way he would get the role, with him believing that they had wanted someone younger instead. However, unbeknownst to Muniz, producers were amazed at the teenager’s audition, deciding to change the character’s age in the process. That’s right, Muniz was so good that producers changed the age of Malcolm from nine to twelve, giving Muniz the part. Going on to earn himself an Emmy nomination, as well as two Golden Globe nominations, it seems producers were certainly right in their decision.
13. Their House Was A Real Life House
12. The Family Had No Last Name
Again, known for being deliberately vague, the show was also noted for not giving the family a last name, kind of. That’s right, known for being the most hated family on the block, the dysfunctional household only revealed their actual last name once. Wanting to keep it a secret, adding to the show’s constant mystery, the writers made it a long running joke. However, spotted during the pilot episode which sees Francis wearing a name tag displaying the surname Wilkerson – the name never crops up again. Laughing at the idea that the family had no last name, writers then incorporated the joke into the final episode. Upon being introduced during his graduation, feedback from the microphone can be heard just before Malcolm’s last name is read out. Plus, when dropping his employee ID card, Francis’ name clearly reads, “Francis Nolastname” a wink towards the running gag.
11. Aaron Paul Auditioned For The Role Of Francis
Just imagine, TV’s most celebrated pairing could have happened a lot sooner than we thought, with Aaron Paul initially auditioning for a role as Cranston’s onscreen son. That’s right, going up for the part of Francis, which eventually went to Christopher Masterson, Paul had apparently been “desperate” to star alongside Cranston. However, with the producers seemingly disagreeing, Paul was sent on his way. Getting his dream years later, Paul later starred in the critically acclaimed and universally loved, Breaking Bad, cementing a long standing relationship between the two actors. Yep, obviously having a lot of love for one another, the two have often showcased their bromance for all to see, with Paul confessing, “I love that man more than you know. He’s one of my closest friends. After the final day of shooting, we got matching tattoos of the Breaking Bad symbol and the next day Bryan sent me a text saying, ‘I miss you already.'”
10. The Show Had Many Celebrity Guests
With popularity often comes supporters, with Malcolm in the Middle famed for its regular guest stars. However, with a number of these stars not exactly that famous yet, the show is famed for being credited with launching the careers of many. Yep, from Dakota Fanning, Hayden Panettiere, Ashley Tisdale, and Jennette McCurdy, the show was regularly knocking out future superstars throughout its seven season run. In fact, even Ashlee Simpson made an appearance, as well as Jerry Trainor and future Modern Family award winner, Eric Stonestreet. And, if that’s not enough, then how about some Oscar winners? With Octavia Spencer showing up in season two, Emma Stone also made a brief appearance in season seven, a whole year before her film debut in the immensely popular teen flick Superbad.
So, just how did poor Malcolm get his name? Revealed in episode ten of season one, Hal takes the boys out of school in order to go watch stock car races. With Hal then confessing that they had named their third son after the stock car racer Rusty Malcolm, Hal then proceeds to tell his children that Francis and Reese were originally going to be called Malcolm too.
While Malcolm shows a clear disdain for the races on screen, off screen things couldn’t be further from the truth, with actor Frankie Muniz an avid fan of fast cars. Beginning racing in 2004, Muniz entered a number of races throughout his career, earning a decent amount of money in the process. Leaving due to health problems, and his subsequent talent for music, Muniz can now be seen trying his hand at management, looking after musical group Astro Lasso.
8. Cranston Did All Of His Own Stunts
Funny to say the least, Cranston embodied the role of Hal from the very beginning. Said to have auditioned while the sets were actually being built, Cranston instantly won the role after making the whole crew laugh over and over again. Playing the loving husband, Hal is also extremely inept, stupid, dependent on Lois, and terrified of absolutely everything. However, off screen Cranston was extremely different, and was famed for doing all his own stunts. That’s right, from roller-disco-skating, to cartwheeling, Cranston took things one step further when the show’s writers asked him to cover himself in bees. Donning a suit of the live creatures, the actor was then covered in 10,000 bees, and was even stung in the process. What a guy!
7. There Is A Strong Breaking Bad Connection
With Aaron Paul already linking the two by auditioning for the role of Francis, the shows actually have more in common than originally thought. Obviously both starring the amazing and highly popular actor, Bryan Cranston, the show also had an episode with meth dealers. That’s right, titled “Reese’s Party”, second oldest Reese decides to throw a party while his folks have gone away for the weekend. Gatecrashed by a gang of hoodlums who set up a meth lab in the garage, the night is saved when Dewey eventually calls their parents. Plus, linking the two that little bit more, Cranston recently starred in a Malcolm in the Middle/Breaking Bad alternative ending. Waking up as Hal next to onscreen wife Lois, played by Jane Kaczmarek, he then goes on to describe a dream he just had. Speaking of drug dealers and cooking meth, Lois laughs at the idea that he could ever have cooked anything, stating, “I told you not to eat those deep-fried Twinkies”.
6. The Show Was Based On The Writer
Beginning his career as an actor, Linwood Boomer was initially famous for his role on the popular Little House on the Prairie, playing the role of Adam Kendall. Preferring to stay off camera, Boomer began writing and producing shows such as 3rd Rock from the Sun and Night Court. Deciding to create a show that served as a mirror into his own life, Boomer saw potential in his childhood, eventually resulting in Malcolm in the Middle. The youngest of four boys, Boomer changed the character to be the middle child, as well as slightly exaggerating his own IQ, making Malcolm’s higher. However, although the series creator, Boomer only wrote two episodes, as well as directing a mere five, counting the series finale as his fifth.
5. Jane Kaczmarek Never Gave Birth In Real Life
Cast as Malcolm’s overbearing and authoritative mother, Lois, Jane Kaczmarek was instantly singled out as one of the major reasons for the show’s success. Hailing the star for her comedic talents, Kaczmarek was nominated for seven Emmy Awards in the process, as well as nods for Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. However, although she was shown on screen giving birth a whopping five times, Kaczmarek had actually never given birth herself, undergoing a C-section instead. That’s right, once married to fellow actor Bradley Whitford, the pair had three children together, before divorcing after 17 years of marriage. When asked how she prepared for her onscreen birth scenes, Kaczmarek stated that she had just imitated every birth scene she had seen on screen. Well she certainly aced it.
4. The Family Lives In California
Similar in tone to The Simpsons, Malcolm in the middle is the quintessential coming of age story. Known for evading questions, the show has often basked in its mysterious fortune, often leaning into the surreal in more ways than one. Keeping the location a secret, the show was in fact filmed in California, however, onscreen, things were much more unclear. That’s right, never exactly confirming where it was supposed to be, the show often alluded to clues throughout its seven season run. From Texas, to D.C., each state has been considered with regards to where the family actually lives. However, with California the most secure option due to the weather, and Hal’s license plate, it seems the ruse is finally up.
3. Reese Was Named One Of Television’s Biggest Brats
Initially billed as a sitcom about Malcolm, being well in the middle, the series producers did not expect the rest of the family to get as much attention. However, due to the exceptional acting skills on the show, as well as the hilariously timed comedic performances, a number of the cast members were beginning to get extra screen time. One notable performer was that of elder brother Reese, played by the talented Justin Berfield. Acting from the age of five years old, Berfield was no stranger to the wonderful world of Hollywood. That’s right, having starred in the long running TV show Unhappily Ever After for four years, Berfield went straight into another long winded TV sitcom. Playing the role of Reese, the bratty bully brother, the character was often voted as the worst TV brother of all time.
2. All The Brothers Are Equally Gifted (Apart From One…)
With the show based around the intelligence of one brother and his stupid, silly siblings, the writers wanted the brothers to all have something special about them. Lauded as a genius from the very beginning, Malcolm also has a photographic memory, as well as being placed in a class for gifted students. Notoriously known as the bully and somewhat rather stupid, Reese is the second son of the family, and lacks common sense. However, a culinary genius, Reese is seen to be exceptionally gifted with regards to cooking and baking. The youngest of the bunch, well for a while anyway, Dewey is also very intelligent, excelling in music. As for Francis? Seemingly missing the boat when it comes to special gifts, Francis seemed to only get more stupid, eventually becoming more immature than he was at the very start of the series.
1. Frankie Muniz Is Older Than His Older Brother In The Show
Again, noted for his extreme vagueness with regards to the family and the family’s whereabouts, Malcolm’s age was never truly revealed throughout its seven season run. Speaking of the constant uncertainty, creator Linwood Boomer confessed, “we decided not to say anything about his age on the show, like the city they lived in. We just said that he attended middle school, not the actual grade level. We didn’t want to be locked into something. Kids are so protean with what they say, anyway. Sometimes they act like nine-year-olds and sometimes like 30-year-olds.” However, with his real age not really revealed, it was certain that Reese and Francis were Malcolm’s elder brothers, with Dewey and later Jamie, acting as his younger siblings. Although, in real life things were much different, with actor Muniz actually a few months older than his on screen brother.