The best thing to do in embarrassing situations is to just move forward. “The Middle” gets this, especially in “Crushed,” in which the Hecks experience a couple different forms of humiliation, as Sue goes all out when crushing on her professor and Brick finally convinces Frankie and Mike to meet Cindy’s parents. Social boundaries exist for reasons, and they are often good reasons, but they are sometimes transgressed for the reasons of passion or desperation. The trouble is, those explanations are not reasons, but emotional forces, which can lead to trouble – not always, but they do in these cases. Luckily, as freaked out as the Hecks can get, they are usually able to keep things in perspective.
Although Sue tends to overdo everything, and not realize just how far gone she has gotten until after the fact, it initially seems that this time she is actually trying to be obvious. The brightly colored dresses, pristine makeup and hair, and uber-preparation for a class she was previously at odds with all point to a desire to be noticed. (The fact that this is an 8 AM class has little to do with anything; it has long been established that Sue is that person who is bubbly and energetic right from dawn.) Could it be that she is actually ignoring her entire sense of shame? This is freeing, but also foolhardy.
Surely, Sue has some sense of discretion. True, her enthusiasm has led her to plow forward where others would back down, but not in the way that she would violate the ethics of a student-teacher relationship. Now, to be fair, some successful real-life and fictional couples begin as professor and pupil, and Mr. Grant is relatively young, but with Sue as a freshman, there is no way this particular case would not be dicey. Plus, there is the other matter of Sue being aggressively forward. This is not quite “Fatal Attraction” level – Sue would never let her obsessions get that dark – but it looks like she has set a new record for how much she gets ahead of herself.
Sue knows how to pick out good friends, or they know how to find her, or some combination of the two, or fate likes to smile on her just enough. Daniela Bobadilla has been quite a casting coup, as Lexie leaves a big mark in this episode despite doing little more than just hanging out in the dorm. However, that is selling her short on two counts. For one thing, there is plenty of value that can be accomplished while with one’s roommate in one’s dorm, and for another, there is a significant portion of this episode that she is not in, during which she may very well be having her own romantic drama for all we know. That is probably not the case, because it would be difficult to do that and be clearheaded enough to be so supportive and sensible with Sue.
Destiny also smiles upon Sue vis-à-vis the wisdom of Mr. Grant, who uses his powers of conviction and alleviating embarrassment to simultaneously convince Sue and Jeremy the campus environmental protester to come back to class. In the process, he inadvertently (or kind of on purpose?) plays matchmaker. Sue is attracting the attention of a lot of guys lately – put tree guy alongside Logan and the campus safe ride driver among her list of potential suitors. This may be way different from how her life used to be, but it is not unbelievable. She is a catch: just check out her sense of self is on full display with the rant that she lays into Jeremy.