If Boys Were Girls is the 10th episode of Season 4 and the 73rd episode overall on Malcolm in the Middle. It was directed by Ken Kwapis. The writing teleplay is by Nahnatchka Kahn and the story by Alexandra Kaczenski


After being rattled by the boys' having another brawl, Lois ponders the consequences of having to raise another brawling son and fantasizes that her sons were well-behaved daughters. Though starting out nice and pleasant, she soon discovers that having three daughters wouldn't be so different from having three sons. Hal desperately tries to find Lois a Valentine's Day gift that she'll like.

Summary Edit

After discovering from the last episode that she was pregnant again, Lois struggles with the morning sickness while Hal helps her, during which he raises the question of if she'd rather have a girl or another boy. Soon there's a fight between Malcolm and Reese over a pen, while Dewey yells at them for breaking his new toy. While the boys fight, Lois begins imagining that they were girls named Mallory (Lisa Foiles), Renee (Mimi Paley) and Daisy (Jeanette McCurdy). Mallory asks Renee to not touch the pen. Renee thinks she's just being silly because she just wants to use it to do homework with and Daisy encourages her to tell the truth. Mallory reveals that there was a boy in her class who had a crush on her and chewed the top of the pen before dropping it on the floor. Renee apologizes for her insensitivity and hates being born dumb because her head would be useless without her great hair. Mallory tells her that she doesn't have to be a genius because she's sweet and thoughtful and it's what counts. She, Renee and Daisy reconcile, but the fantasy is broken when Malcolm decks Reese.

Sometime later while preparing to go shopping, Francis calls Lois for a favor because he has a $20 bet that one of his Mad Tv Magazines says either Stagnum PI or Magnum PU. She doesn't have time to deal with him and hangs up. In the car, the boys continues to complain about being forced to go shopping for clothes they have no interest in trying on and money wasted on them. Lois switches back into her fantasy world where Mallory, Renee and Daisy are excited to go shopping and are hurrying Hal to get in the car. Meanwhile, the real Hal snaps at the boys and tells them they're going shopping whether they like it or not. Malcolm, Reese and Dewey continues to complain while driving Lois nuts.

At the mall, Hal tries to figure out what kind of present Lois wants for Valentine's Day because she won't tell him. He tries to think up of a hat, but she doesn't want one. In the mall's food court, Lois orders only a salad for herself and three chili burgers for the boys. While sitting down, Dewey is playing with his toys taunting Reese's busted lip at Malcolm's hands. Soon Lois shows up and the boys take the chili burgers from the tray and ravenously eat them. Going from back and forth with her fantasy, Lois is having a salad lunch with her angelic daughters, while an obese Hal caters to their needs. While the real Hal finally sees a foot spa and wishes to buy it for her, but the place selling it is out so he tries resort to stealing, but finds himself with the wrong bag every time.

At Hannigans, a sale is going on and Lois is once again struggling to tell the boys to try on new clothes. However, they refuse because they still think it's a waste of time to look nice for people that hate the family. Meanwhile, Reese meets a social worker named Karen and tries to lie to her about his bruise. However, she thinks that Lois hit him and wants answers from her. Malcolm and Dewey try to convince Lois to leave but she is aware of their schemes and they aren't going to suddenly have term papers due or develop stomach cramps. Malcolm then declares that he and his brothers don't need new clothes and can live off of the Lost and Found. Lois switches back into her fantasy world and that her daughters found some good sales. Mallory has a nice sundress marked down to $30 and Renee had Daisy sneak under the tables to find some nice sales. Jason, a boy that Mallory has a crush on seemingly looks for her and Lois tells her that she won't be insulted if she wanted to go for some ice cream with him. Mallory passes on it and tells her they'll be treating her instead. She, Renee and Daisy all decide on helping Lois pick clothes that will look great on her.

Soon after Dewey tells Malcolm since Malcolm decked him, Reese is no longer the alpha male. An old lady cuts in line in front of Malcolm and Dewey. Soon Reese shows up and is back to normal. He goes back to one of his favorite past times: bullying the elderly by taunting her which get them into serious trouble. Soon enough Lois is cited by Karen, who works for Child Services, assumes she is an abusive parent, asking her when the last time Reese saw his father. Eventually she is forced on the run out of the mall with Hal and the boys.

Going back into her fantasy world one last time, Lois is praised by Karen who soon tells her that she has a bunch of horrible families to deal with. However, Lois soon discovers the negative side to having girls: her eldest daughter Frances (Christopher Kennedy Masterson in drag), like her male counterpart dropped out of college and married a trailer park husband (a male counterpart to Piama), Renee is a promiscuous bad girl and is revealed to be pregnant by Jason as a way to spite Mallory for using her hair brush without her permission, Mallory is a spoiled self-absorbed egotistical brat on a clandestine diet and Daisy is a master manipulator. Lois is horrified and tells the girls they were supposed to be easy. However, Mallory and Daisy tell her off, saying that she's the one that's easy and that they aren't above abusing her by using her tactics against her because they're girls. Soon after, the girls gang up and blame Lois for their own problems, the same way the boys have done during the episode. Lois snaps out of her fantasy world for the last time, having realized that girls are just as difficult to raise as boys: while boys can be destructive, girls can be manipulative and shallow. With that, Lois runs with Hal and the boys out of the mall.

At home, Lois is pleased with Hal's gift: a new yellow garment for the baby, which he finally settles on. The boys are well-behaved for once and have thoughtfully bought Lois a heart -shaped box of chocolates for Valentine's Day. Lois is happy with both gifts and thanks them as they all run off for some basketball practice. Once the family is out of earshot, Lois looks down at her belly and, despite everything, states that she hopes the new baby is a girl.


  • Jane Kaczmerek as Lois
  • Bryan Cranston as Hal
  • Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis/Frances
  • Justin Berfield as Reese
  • Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey
  • Frankie Muniz as Malcolm

Guest StarsEdit

  • Lisa Foiles as Mallory
  • Mimi Paley as Renee
  • Jeanette McCurdy as Daisy


  • This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a comedy series.
  • This episode features genderbent versions of the four, current Wilkerson boys.
  • This is the first Valentine's Day themed episode.
  • The concept of this episode was developed by an 11-year old.
  • Christopher Kennedy Masterson, who plays Francis, plays his female counterpart in this episode, while the other three boys got different actresses to play their female roles.
    • He is also the only character who kept his name as a girl because Francis is a unisex name. However the spelling Frances is a girl's name.
  • Although "Reese" is a unisex name, the name of his female counterpart changes to Renee.
  • Renee is revealed to be pregnant in this episode. This means that even though Reese stayed a virgin throughout the entire series (reaching the age of 19), his female counterpart lost her innocence while she was a teenager (at the age of 16).
    • Despite sharing Reese's lack of intelligence, Renee is revealed to be a music genius and likes being in band. Whereas Reese is a culinary genius.
  • Female Francis was married to an old man who lived in a trailer park named Pablo. Although he looked nothing like her, Pablo is probably the male counterpart of Piama because of their similar sounding names and with them playing the exact same roles in the lives of their Spouses.
  • This episode reveals that Lois' favorite kind of chocolate is coconut.
  • Lois imagining Hal in such a negative light in her fantasies is possibly a nod to how she views herself physically in reality and possibly considers herself unattractive (maybe due to her pregnancy at the time) and is secretly depressed over the fact that she is the only female in her family (The events of this episode show she strongly desires having a daughter and has shown displeasure being outnumbered by the boys). The episode "Malcolm's Job" even shows that Lois is a secret smoker when she is at work, a nod to Hal in her fantasies smoking as well. However, Lois is nowhere near as obedient to her children in reality and is the one who dominates them.
  • Despite Lois realizing that having four daughters wouldn't be any better for her than having four sons, she still wished that her next child would end up being a girl.
    • It's also the first time, Lois realizes that having sons are slightly better than having daughters. With sons, she can be the stern disciplinarian she is to them. With daughters, Lois will likely lose against them because they know how overbearing and controlling she is. Thus, the girls can use Lois' tactics against her by blaming her for every one of their own problems just to get what they want from her.
  • Despite being a free spirit, Mallory eventually shares Malcolm's egotism and self-absorbed nature. However unlike Malcolm, she uses it to cause others pain so she can get what she wants and doesn't think about the consequences regarding the people around her.
  • Child Protective Services conducts several assessments on the safety of a child to determine whether abuse or negligence has been committed. In the case of the Wilkerson family, if Karen were to learn of the negligent and the abusive history of Lois and Hal with Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey, then an allegation of child abuse would be reported by her, resulting it to be passed on to law enforcement. Next, CPS can remove the boys permanently from Lois and Hal; therefore, they would no longer have any rights or responsibilities towards them. Next, Malcolm and Reese would become legally emancipated through a court proceeding, as for Dewey he would be placed under protective custody, and then be transferred to CPS which would place him with a relative (ex. Lois' sister Susan), suitable other (ex. Francis and Piama), or in foster care.
    • Although it's likely that Dewey will end up living with Francis and Piama due to them being the closest relatives he has.


  • If you watch when Reese is saying that he doesn't want the red shirt, the back view shows he has a plaid shirt on top, but when they show you the front view, it isn't there.