Boys Costumes Depicted in Television Shows: Malcomb in the Middle (US, 2000- )

Figure 1.--Malcomb is seen here, with his older brother Reece. Generally "T" shirts are more popular than tank tops. The image does show how American boys do often wear white socks with short pants.

This Fox sitcom has proven quite popular. It deals with a family of three boys, Malcomb of course is the middle boy. Some of the promotional bits on TV seem humerous. I haven't, however, watched it so can't say much about it yet. Hopefully our HBC readers can provide some information. It does realistically provide information on contemporary American boys' clothing.


Frankie Muniz plays Malcomb. I first saw him in the bitter-sweet coming of age film My Dog Skip (2000), a wonderful film that film seemed to launch his career.


A HBC reader reports, "I've seen a few episodes. Not unintelligent. Though live action rather than animated, it is closer in spirit to the Simpsons than to, say, Home Improvement. Not as surrealistic as the first, naturaly, but a lot more realistic (and, to me funnier and truer) than the second. The father is somewhat addled, the mother an unguided missile, the kids scramble to survive.

The Boys

There are four brothers in "Malcolm in the Middle". Francis is a naughty boy aged 16 years and ensconced at a military school for boys. There are three boys at home: Reece (naughty trendy boy), Malcolm (brainy boy), and sweet little Dewey (a 6 year old with big ears innocent eyes). Reece is about 16 years old. Reece in the black or navy blue shorts and spikey hair and white socks (figure 1). He is dumb as an ox, a flirt with the girls, and a bully at school. Malcolm is the middle brother, thus the title. A HBC reader comments, "He reminds me of Butch Patrick but without the monster costume and make up". They range in age, I would guess from 9-13. Malcomb has an I.Q. in the genius range which he doesn't particularly welcome. There is an older brother, in his late teens. He may be a brother from a prior mariage. There is also a younger brother who has been sent off to military school for the usual reasons.


Francis the firebug is incarcerated in a strict military school because he is rather naughty. He is the eldest brother. The mom is delightful and clever and can read her boys like a book and her sneaky but whimsical husband too. Malcolm the bright boy and last great hope for the family is mom's favorite. He gets himself in to lots of funny scrapes. Dewey is sometimes in and out of a world of his own. He sometimes runs amuck with Reece and Malcolm.

The Clothes

The clothes seem accurate, ordinary turn of the millenium North American boys clothes. Shorts and t-shirts and sneakers. (The boy in the athletic shirt in the photo is Malcolm's younger brother). The uniforms at the military school seem much too elaborate. A HBC reader reports that "Military school boys here in New York City wear uniforms very much like the ones I had to wear for high school drill and college ROTC 40 years ago." All three boys wear shorts as beachwear or casuals shorts, jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, tracksuits, and cargo pants and knee-length type shorts. Dewy wears overall jeans, shorts, and and little boy outfits.

A HBC reader reports, "One thing I noticed and that several people have commented on is that the boys and sometimes the father sit around and run around the house in their underwear (t-shirts and briefs). This reflects a certain lower middle class reality though white jockey shorts are I think passing out of fashion." HBC believes that one factor may be air conditioning. Families no longer have to endure unconfortable temperatures at home dutringb the summer. Our HBC reader further comments, "What I meant about the underwear was that briefs themselves seem to be passing out of fashion among boys. Boxer shorts or boxer briefs are in. Young actors and rocks stars routinely are photographed in their undershorts."

Hair Styles

The boys all have short back and sides as does dad too. Reece has a lemon rinse to add highlights and his hair is a tad spikey.


One reader tells us, "The boys in Malcolm in the Middle, wear typical clothes of the early 2000s, khakis, jeans and shorts. They all seem to wear more normal shorts than the reall ong baggy ones many kids wear. The button shirt over T-Shirts is also popular on the show. The series is one of the the best representation of what American boys wear today."

Reader Comments

A HBC reader writes, "'Malcolm in the Middle' is 'The Simpsons' crossed with 'My Three Sons' and it is funny. They carry on like a real bunch of boys who are being their normal selves and that is why this is a great show. I acted like any one of the three boys in this show and it is realistic. It reminds you how fun it was being a boy with a mountains of energy and the thrills of your imaginaion to fuel your grand adventures." Another reader comments, "I've been watching some of the episodes of his TV show, "Malcolm in the Middle". Sort of an off-beat, slightly irreverent comedy. It has some really funny lines along the way."

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 23, 2001
Last updated: December 14, 2002