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Brad Finally Comes Out On ABC’s “The Middle”: “It Just Felt Like The Time Was Right”

The cast and creators tell us what it means for the hit ABC comedy.

On tonight’s episode of The Middle, Brad Bottig (Brock Ciarlelli) finally came out to his best friend (and former girlfriend), Sue Heck (Eden Sher).

Brad’s sexuality has been something of an in-joke on the popular ABC sitcom—obvious to everyone, apparently, but Brad and Sue. Sue’s parents, Frankie and Mike (Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn) have even joked about it.

So why open the closet door now?

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ABC

“We felt by this point in his life that he probably did know and we felt like it was time that he could share it with one of his best friends,” series co-creator DeAnn Heline told NewNowNext.

“It just felt like the time was right. It felt like to not have it happen felt wrong for the character.”

In true Middle fashion, the moment was dealt with in a subtlety, with Sue stopping Brad mid-outing because she already knew.

“I think that we didn’t really want to go to a place where it was ‘What? Really? Oh my God!’ It just wouldn’t seem like Sue was mature enough then,” explained co-creator Eileen Heisler.

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ABC

Ciarlelli says he began thinking about how the coming out would be handled the moment he was told it was going to happen.

“Sue is one of the most important people in his life,” he told me. “Important people can be the hardest people to tell—even if you have no doubt they’ll accept you. It’s because  of Sue’s importance in Brad’s life that it would have been scary and difficult for him to tell her. so I was so pleased when I got the script and read how the scene was written.”

He also knew it would be very different from anything he and Sher had played in the past.

“There was a necessary level of weight from Brad, and unwavering support from Sue, that demonstrated their relationship perfectly,” he said.

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Subtle as the coming-out scene may have been, Ciarlelli wants it to impact viewers.

“Whether it’s someone similar to Brad who might be struggling to come out to an important person, or someone who relates more to Sue, or even someone who relates to a their solid friendship as a whole, I hope audiences of any type can connect to this scene in a way that’s profound for them.”

What does the future holds for Brad? Heisler and Heline say they’d love to see Brad dating, or have his first boyfriend—and they hinted he’ll definitely be noticing cute guys in future episodes. But for now it’s important that the Brad/Sue friendship remain solid.

“For us the friendship hasn’t changed,” said Heisler. “I feel like they’re still the same friends that they were.”

The Middle airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC.