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Patricia Heaton says the newest season of “The Middle” is the best yet.

“Our eighth season is one of the best we’ve ever done,” Heaton told Hot Topics. “Axl gets a new girlfriend and she’s different than any girlfriend he’s ever had, and the family has strong opinions about her.”

She said it’s been a joy watching Eden Sher (Sue Heck), Atticus Schaffer (Brick Heck) and Charlie McDermott (Axl Heck) grow up on the show.

“When I look back at our early episodes, I cannot believe how young they are,” said Heaton. “They’re such great kids. They’re really not ‘Hollywood’ kids.”

Heaton played a mom on TV in “The Middle” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” before that. While playing a mom in sitcoms, she’s been raising four sons of her own.

“I’ve really kept my public life and personal life fairly separate and so they don’t see me as an actor really. They just see me as their mom,” said Heaton.

You can watch “The Middle” on ABC every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.