Malcolm in the Middle was a formative sitcom for FOX that not only introduced most of the world to the show’s cast, but it presented a very different perspective of the typical family sitcom. Malcolm in the Middle is a single-camera comedy without a laugh track and it’s largely told from the perspective of a young boy.
It was wildly innovative when it first premiered in January 2000, but it’s unfortunately lost popularity over the years and disappeared beyond the occasional clip being shared. Malcolm in the Middle was beloved by many, but there are many behind the scenes details that may surprise even longtime fans. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Facts About Malcolm In The Middle That Will Ruin Your Childhood.
20 Frankie Muniz Has Forgotten Most Of His Experiences From Filming
Frankie Muniz is an individual who had a largely unique childhood since he got to grow up on screen in a major capacity. Muniz started his run on Malcolm in the Middle when he was just thirteen years old and was on the program for nearly a decade. Afterwards, Muniz’s life largely pivoted away from acting and he took up NASCAR driving as a major hobby. Due to the collisions and generally dangerous nature of driving race-cars, Muniz has gone through enough to have allegedly forgotten the bulk of his experience of making the series.
19 An 11-Year-Old Came Up With The Story For One Of The Show's Best Episodes
One of the most beloved episodes of Malcolm in the Middle is "If Boys Were Girls," which gender bends the boys of the family and imagines how things would be if they were all female. It's a very fun episode, but the person who came up with it was actually the eleven-year-old niece of the show's costume designer, Alexandra Kaczenski. Kaczenski receives a "Story By" credit and came up with a two-page outline on how the episode would play out, which the show's creator loved.
18 Music Rights Have Kept The Show Off Streaming Platforms And DVDs
Due to the single-camera nature of Malcolm in the Middle, the show often relied on soundtrack music and popular songs to compliment the tone of the show in the background of scenes (as opposed to laughter filling in the silence). This worked great in the show, but has turned into a pain after the fact. The difficulty and costs surrounding the music rights for the series have kept it off streaming platforms and only the first season has been released on DVD.
17 Malcolm In The Middle Was Used For An Alternate Breaking Bad Ending
The Breaking Bad complete series DVD and Blu-Ray set truly goes all out in terms of its special features (remember those, from before streaming ruled the world?). One particularly playful inclusion features a joke ending to the series where Hal wakes up in bed next to Lois, revealing that the entirety of Breaking Bad was just one bad dream. It's a shocking sight and a great gag.
16 Bryan Cranston Did His Own Stunts, Which Became Increasingly Crazy
Over the years, viewers have gotten a good idea of just how committed Bryan Cranston is to his craft, whether it's in comedy or drama. Early on, the writers on Malcolm in the Middle became aware of how much Cranston poured into his character. For a storyline where he had to roller skate, he actually took the time to learn the craft. This grew into ways for the writers to increasingly test Cranston's mettle, which culminated in extravagant storylines, like Hal covered in 10,000 bees.
15 A Crew Member Can Be Seen In A Shot, But Was Intentionally Left In
In the second episode of the series, "Red Dress," there's a moment where Dewey runs towards his mother and a crew member can visibly be seen hiding behind a corner before quickly moving out of frame. According to the audio commentary, this mistake was caught while filming, but intentionally left in to see if the audience would notice (fan communities were a lot less rabid back then). Yes, they did.
14 Chris Masterson Moved From In Front Of The Camera To Behind It
Francis, the eldest son in the family, often had the most disconnected storylines. His character's whole shtick was that he found himself in increasingly ridiculous odd job scenarios that took him all over the country. Masterson eventually became a little frustrated over the stagnant nature of his character, so he opted to slowly appear in less episodes while he instead contributed to the writers' room and directed an installment in the show's final season.
13 It Was Nearly On UPN
Believe it or not, the fledgling UPN Network were actually the ones who originally owned Malcolm in the Middle. However, after sitting on the sitcom for four months and not knowing how to fit it in with the rest of their programming, they put it up for bid. FOX bought the series and it immediately becoming a defining comedy for the network. It's scary to think that the show probably wouldn't have even lasted a full season on the UPN and could have killed off the show before it even got a chance to grow.
12 The Show Was Intentionally Vague To Keep Their Options Open
Sometimes series are so concerned about providing every little detail on their characters that it can be overwhelming. Malcolm in the Middle takes the opposite approach in many respects so not be locked into any commitments, but to also allow the audience to put their own perceptions onto the characters. For example, Malcolm's exact age and grade are never provided, nor is the location where the show was set. Whether they had those answers or not wasn't important.
11 Aaron Paul Could Have Played Francis And Theoretically Changed Breaking Bad
Back around the time that Malcolm in the Middle was gearing into production and doing casting for its main characters, Aaron Paul was adamant on going in to audition for the oldest son in the family, Francis; a role that ultimately went to Christopher Masterson. Paul wasn't even allowed to audition, but this is for the best.
Had both Cranston and Paul been in Malcolm in the Middle, then they absolutely wouldn't have been both cast in Breaking Bad. The casting for this show effectively made the casting for one of the best TV shows of all time possible.
10 A Back Double Was Needed For Bryan Cranston In The Show's Pilot
Right from the start, one of the most iconic scenes to come out of Malcolm in the Middle is the visual of Lois shaving Hal's back at the breakfast table (an event that actually happened in Linwood Boomer's real life). Fake hair was applied to Cranston's back, but due to the adhesive, it wouldn't easily get shaved off. As a result, the show had to bring in a number of "back doubles" for Cranston, all of which had hairy backs.
9 They Were Undecided On Jamie's Gender
The conclusion of Malcolm in the Middle's fourth season goes out on a fairly big note for the series as Lois gives birth to a new member of the family. The season finale revolves around this birth, but the gender of the baby isn't revealed and the name is intentionally ambiguous as "Jamie." The reasoning here is that the writers legitimately didn't know which direction would be more interesting for their stories, so they contemplated it over the break and then decided that Jamie should be a boy in season five.
8 Malcolm Was Originally Supposed To Be Nine
In the original conceptualization of the series, Malcolm was a few years younger and only nine years old. Accordingly, Frankie Muniz was positive he bombed his audition for the part because he was thirteen and thought he was too old and couldn't play that age. In fact, Muniz did such a good job that they rewrote the script and changed Malcolm's character to be around the age of twelve so he better fit Muniz.
7 Bryan Cranston's Audition Informed A Lot Of Hal's Character
Some of the broader strokes of Hal were in place during the audition process for Malcolm in the Middle, but Bryan Cranston provided such a creative, unique take on the character in his audition that a lot of his character work was later incorporated into his character. For instance, it was Cranston's idea for Hal to be so much meeker than Lois and prone to fear, as well as Hal's wild imagination.
6 Jane Kaczmarek Got Away With Taking Her Character's Wardrobe Home With Her
Sometimes cast members will take mementos from their productions back with them. Whether Kaczmarek was intentionally making off with her character's wardrobe or not, it doesn't change the fact that she apparently did. One day she was even watching a repeat of an episode and found that she was wearing the exact outfit that was in the episode. Oops.
5 The Owners Of The Family's House Made A Killing From The Show
With sitcoms, sometimes they'll actually construct a set and other times they'll just rent out or buy an actual home. The one-camera setup for the series better lends itself to the latter, so production continually rented out a home in Studio City. Production paid the owners between $3,000 and $4,000 for every day of filming. The house has largely changed its look if you're looking to pay it a visit, but the neighbors' properties are still the same.
4 A Reference To Little Shop Of Horrors Is Deeply Embedded Into The Series
As much as Malcolm's home life was a fun part of the series, viewers quickly responded to the other side of Malcolm's life where he's with his nerdy compatriots at school. The "Krelboyne" nickname that Malcolm and the rest of the gifted students in his class is actually a reference to Seymour Krelboyne, Rick Moranis' geeky but kind-hearted protagonist from Little Shop of Horrors.
3 It Largely Kicked Off The Single-Camera Comedy Craze
Programs like The Office are quick to get singled out with how they helped popularize the single-camera sitcom format that doesn’t utilize a studio audience or laugh track. As much as The Office and other programs did for the format, Malcolm in the Middle was doing this back in the year 2000 and was largely the pioneer for this new style. The show was ahead of the game.
2 The Series Is Autobiographical In Nature
The creator of Malcolm in the Middle, Linwood Boomer (who's also a respectable actor in his own right), actually pulled from real life when he was putting together the hit comedy series. Boomer was one of four boys in his family, yet he was "burdened" with a high IQ that gave him a Malcolm-esque perspective on his life. Many events from the show's pilot and first season are things that actually happened to Boomer.
1 The Family’s Official Last Name Is Actually “Nolastname”
The series’ pilot happens to sneak in the last name “Wilkerson” for Malcolm’s family, but creator Linwood Boomer wanted to embrace the joke that the family really didn’t have a last name because it wasn’t important. This expanded into the gag that the family’s last name is actually “Nolastname,” which sneaks its way into the series on a few occasions.
Sources: MentalFloss.com, IMDB.com, ScreenRant.com