Is 'Mike and Molly' One Long Fat Joke? - TCA Report
by Laura Prudom, posted Jul 28th 2010 5:35PM
If the questions from the assembled television critics in the 'Mike & Molly' TCA panel were any indication, the press at large seem to view CBS's new comedy, which follows two overweight singles who meet at Overweight Anonymous and begin dating, as a prolonged fat joke masquerading as a rom-com.
Thankfully, creator Mark Roberts and executive producer Chuck Lorre were on hand to dispel that notion. "This isn't a show about weight," Lorre insisted. "It's about real people with real issues trying to have a relationship -- [I know] TV would have cast Chris O'Donnell and Courtney Cox as two members of Overeaters Anonymous ... but [Mike and Molly] are just people trying to make their lives better and find love."
Despite this early clarification, the assembled journalists were like a dog with a bone, continuing to prod stars Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell on their weight.
Gardell heroically introduced some much-needed levity to the proceedings, admitting, "I broke a chair before I came out here." At some nervous titters from the audience, he insisted, "I'm not kidding, I'm heavy; you can laugh -- I've caught a mirror."
McCarthy said, "I think it's good to have something more realistic so people aren't striving for perfection -- no one is perfect apart from a small set in Hollywood."
Reinforcing the romantic aspect of the series, Gardell insisted, "This is a love story; this is a show people can look at and go 'I look like that,' or 'I look better than that,' not 'I'll never look like that'."
The relatability of the show was a big draw for creator Roberts: "I didn't set out to write a show about Overeaters Anonymous, I wanted to write a show about two people at the beginning of a relationship," he explained. "It's a show about people with problems; I wanted to do a show like this to get real people on TV. Most stuff on TV seems really unrealistic -- their apartments are really nice. I don't buy any of their problems."
To stick to the realistic theme of the series, McCarthy admitted that even Molly's wardrobe would reflect real life; she's a teacher, so all her costumes will be comfortable and suitable for being chalk-stained. "We're keeping it realistic to her budget -- there won't be a joke about a teacher's pay and then have her walk out with a Marc Jacobs bag," she promised.
Despite the elephant in the room, the cast were in fine spirits and happy to face the "Apple-sponsored firing squad," as Roberts titled the assembled journalists. It seemed as though McCarthy and Gardell were just excited to be bringing a new, more positive body image to primetime TV.
"These men are incredibly gracious to put someone who's not normal-looking in the middle of the show," Gardell enthused. "If you look like me, you're usually either the bad guy, the cop or the neighbor. I'm humbled to be at this weight and this age in Hollywood and to be on a show of this caliber with this team."
McCarthy agreed, saying "I got hit with the lucky stick, but why not? I don't have three heads! The show's not about weight for me either; I thought it was such a lovely relationship with Billy and my character's family. I love that it didn't have any snarky quality to it, but was still very funny and lovely."
Lorre added, "If we're still talking about [weight] by episode 6, then we have problems, because it's not an issue to hang a series on. They go to Overeaters Anonymous because they're on a journey, they want to make a change in their lives. I think that speaks to a lot of people who want to change the status quo in their own lives."
With a cast this charming and a creative team this knowledgeable, we have a feeling that we'll have far more to talk about than weight come episode 6.
Will you be watching 'Mike and Molly' this Fall?