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Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Medium: The Perfect Balance.

Sure, the typical working mom doesn't get calls in the middle of the night from a district attorney or a police detective summoning her to a crime scene so that she can use her psychic powers to try to discern what really happened. The average working mom doesn't communicate with dead people. Or see the future in her dreams.

But one thing you can say that Patricia Arquette's character Allison Dubois on "Medium" (http://www.nbc.com/Medium/) does that many working mothers do each day is awkwardly balance the demands of career with caring for three young children while constantly arguing with one's spouse over household duties and fretting over what meal to make that the kids will actually eat.

In fact, if you take the crime-fighting/psychic/medium story line out of the equation, you're still left with a compelling drama that offers a glimpse of life with an average American family, with a messy kitchen, piles of stuff everywhere, cereal for dinner and endlessly bickering children seeking out Mom or Dad to referee over who gets the TV remote control. And that's exactly the way show creator Glen Gordon Caron wanted it. "Clearly, the home is the focus," he told USA Today [1] when the show was in its second season. ". . . For me that was the meat of the thing. Family is a big part of who [Allison] is."

And the family angle is precisely why many viewers embrace "Medium," though the psychic crime fighting story lines can be riveting as well. "Paranormal mumbo-jumbo aside, this is just about the most realistic depiction of a working woman on TV," critic MaryAnn Johnson wrote on Film.com [2]. "Allison juggles work, home, family and her own strange visions with just the right combination of exhaustion and exhilaration."

But first, the back story: Allison Dubois -- a character that won Arquette an Emmy and is based on the story of a real-life medium by the same name - is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from a preschooler to a middle schooler. Though she initially wanted to be an attorney, Allison was able to combine her psychic abilities with her interest in law by creating a part-time gig for herself with the Phoenix district attorney's office, consulting on jury selection, helping out with cases and trying to drum up clues by visiting crime scenes. With an oftentimes erratic work schedule, Allison is occasionally shown picking her girls up from school, grocery shopping, bathing the kids and tucking them in, while in other scenes she's up all night following down a lead with the police or doing research on the computer at 2 a.m.

Her husband Joe has an office job as an engineer at an aerospace company. He and Allison frequently wind up tag-teaming their child care arrangement when Allison's work calls her away at odd hours. Though the fictional couple has used paid babysitters in past episodes, in most episodes, viewers are likely to see at least one scene where Allison and Joe try to hash out the logistics of their day and tousle over whose day's work gets higher priority, the one who has to interview a witness to a crime, or the one who has a major deadline on a big government project. As often as not, a main plot point for an episode will revolve around a parenting decision [3] about which Allison and Joe may or may not be in agreement.  During the second episode of the current third season, for example, Allison and Joe were of different minds when it came to how their middle school-aged daughter Ariel should handle the threats of a school bully.

"Medium" is not a show that pretends as though its main character has no life outside of work or that she can just blow off parenting duties just because the district attorney called. It's also not a show where the spouse of the main character is just a doormat. He's got work too. Everything's put into an average working mom's context, where major events might happen at work, but life is going on at home, and someone's still got to figure out who's makin' the pasta tonight. "Medium" has an authentic feel to it, particularly when the family of five bustles around the kitchen table for a harried breakfast before everyone rushes out for the day. (Catch a micro-snippet of the Dubois family's breakfast interaction here [4] and see if it doesn't look like your house.)

Fans of the multi-layered program are rooting for it to be renewed for a fourth season. A writer at BlogCritics Magazine [5] has been lobbying NBC to retain "Medium" for next year's primetime programming.

"Medium" airs on Wednesday nights at 10 on NBC. The network's web site has full episodes available for free here [6]. Lifetime TV [7] is airing repeats of "Medium" on Saturday nights at 11.


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