Max. Oh Max. Nobody likes Max. His parents attempt a valiant effort to help him be accepted in school and by society, but the problem is that everyone hates Max, including the television audience. And who can blame us? I wasn't cheering on when he won the student body president position so he could have a vending machine with skittles. I didn't feel any sympathy when he lost his friend after making insensitive remarks about him being in a wheel chair. I don't get concerned when Max screamed and ran away from the photo studio when Sarah wouldn't let him use the photo printer. I just have never felt sympathy towards him and his struggle. And you know, I've always wondered why.
Max is a character that has Asperger's Syndrome. He seems to be written from the perspective of parents who find his behavior baffling, rather than from his own perspective, where he finds the world baffling. Everyone reacts to him but we almost never get a sense of his inner life. I don't know if it is a fault of the actor but stories are almost always about him and rarely involve him in a significant way.
I think that's part of the reason I find Hank so compelling and Max so annoying. Hank is definitely a three dimensional person who has been given the space to talk about his own personal struggle and frustration with relationships. You see how he wants to repair his breach with Sarah—how he wants to try. You never seen anything like that from Max—even a childish version.
So how do we fix Max? Maybe they need stories that involve the world from his perspective. Maybe we need to see him in relationships where he really tries but struggles. Maybe we need a sense of his inner life. I think we saw a glimpse last night when he loved surfing and insisted that his mother come and watch him. That was sweet. That was the first time that I didn't want to throttle him in almost the entire series.