The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2337 Thursday, 14 December 2000
From: Janet MacLellan <
Date: Thursday, 14 Dec 2000 11:39:10 -0400
Subject: MND on Malcolm in the Middle
Since no one else has documented this yet, I'll have a go.
For those who keep track of such things:
On last Sunday's episode of the quirky U.S. sitcom Malcolm in the Middle
(about a young genius from a manic family, who is regularly embarrassed
by the nerdiness of the other students in his school's gifted class),
Malcolm wins the role of Puck in a production of MND at the local high
school. Originally recruited for the non-speaking part of the changeling
boy (and eager to take the role once he finds out it will involve
missing some classes), he is quickly promoted when the play's director
realizes that he actually understands and can speak Shakespearean verse
(unlike the otherwise teenaged cast). Alas, Malcolm gets so caught up in
hanging out with all the attractive older girls in the production that
when his cue comes on the big night, he can't remember a single line;
all he can summon into his head is the sound of the girls' inane and
incessant gossip. One of his nerdy friends from gifted class (a great
lover of the Bard, as we found out earlier in the episode), kindly
offers Malcolm a few prompts from the audience, but eventually has to
come up on stage and take over the role, to great applause, while
Malcolm is left dangling ignominiously from his flying wires.
Classic dialogue from the episode includes this exchange at the family
dinner following Malcolm's promotion:
Reese (Malcolm's older brother): You're playing a *fairy*?
Lois (Malcolm's Mom, fiercely proud of his achievement): Not just *any*
fairy--he's the biggest fairy in the whole play!
The highlight for listmembers, however, occurs early in the episode,
when a girl from the high school comes to Malcolm's school to recruit a
student to play the changeling boy. She carefully begins explaining in
simple terms who Shakespeare was and what he wrote, whereupon one of the
students scornfully rejects her story, espousing instead a certain
theory of authorship forbidden from discussion on this list. Malcolm's
Bard-loving friend quickly and passionately weighs in for Shakespeare
and a heated debate ensues. Apparently the SHAKSPER listserv isn't the
only place this topic can get out of hand: trying to bring some order to
the room, Malcolm's teacher protests wearily, "Now, class, didn't we all
agree to save these discussions for our Friday Forums?"