This show is just so real. Every awkward girl wishes that everyone at school got along with everyone else, as it would make things easier/better for her. While I don't believe that Sue's lunch seating idea would have actually been implemented, I did once have a similar situation. In seventh grade, the whole "team" was collectively punished for a week or so, and we had to sit alphabetically during lunches. Two of the people in my booth were very popular, and the third was one of those boy-next-door types that many crushed on, so I tried to "get in good" with them and act cool, hoping they'd still talk to me after the assigned lunches ended. It didn't work, and karma made its rounds on me that year in the cafeteria, but that's another story. Back to The Middle, Brick trying to get his dad to use the gift coupons was another anecdote with which I relate, and it was good for me to hear that parents never actually plan to cash-in on those. There are still quite a few episodes left in the season for this comedy, so let's hope they continue to ring true!
The Middle "The Award" (S05E14): The heater is off so everyone is bundled up constantly, though Darrin eventually comes over to fix it, and he and Sue both talk about being single. [I'm kinda over them. it's been too long.] The cousins' hand-me-down box arrives, and Brick falls in love with one of the suits... until he realizes it's a woman's suit!
Mike has worked at the quarry for twenty years and is being celebrated at a dinner, which Frankie has to read about online, because Mike doesn't want praise for "showing up." [while I agree with not giving participation trophies, I think that 20 years is a real accomplishment, especially now that most people don't spend their entire working lives with the same company.] Frankie pressures him into going, and it winds up being a bit of a disaster because he doesn't say the most compassionate things... and is rather cynical, really.
The Middle "Vacation Days" (S05E15): Mike has to take his paid vacation days, and because it's also Spring Break, Brick wants to spend time with him by using up the "present coupons" he's been giving his dad over the years. After a few, Mike flips out on Brick, and they agree to cut them up and move on with life. [the 100 hugs in a row was pretty funny. I was scared during the lawnmower part, though!]
Axl tells the family that he's off to Florida, but he actually spends time in the neighborhood first. [eh. we all sneak around our hometowns without telling our parents, whether to surprise them or avoid them, it happens.] Then, as he drives to Florida, his engine block cracks, ruining the car. He calls Frankie collect from Chattanooga to pick him up. [ouch.]
Sue finds out through Yelp that a customer thought she was slow, so she dedicates herself to doing better. Of course, then she's too quick, then too creepy (trying too hard to maintain eye contact), and it all blows up in her face eventually.