Are Mike & Molly's Fat Jokes Funny?
Melissa McCarthy, Reno Wilson and Billy Gardell
The creators of CBS' new romantic sitcom Mike & Molly insist that the show isn't about weight issues.
"I wanted to write a show about two people at the beginning of a relationship, and that was what intrigued me the most," says executive producer Mark Roberts (Two and a Half Men).
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Still, the show's nascent courtship begins when city cop Mike (comedian Billy Gardell) meets cute with schoolteacher Molly (Samantha Who?'s Melissa McCarthy) at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. It's fair to say that much of the pilot episode's comedy stems from the poundage of the two leads. In one scene, a table collapses when Mike leans on it. "I broke a chair before I came over here," Gardell says. "I'm not kidding. It happens. I'm heavy."
Executive producer Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) is confident that any weight-related punchlines are delivered with love. "Hopefully, the humor is self-deprecating and with affection. Some of the jokes at Mike's expense that Carl [Mike's partner on the force] takes, you can see that he really does care about his partner and friend."
Roberts and Lorre point to Marty and The Honeymooners, titles that combined cruelty, comedy and romance, as inspirations.
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"Television would normally have cast Chris O'Donnell and Courteney Cox as the people who meet at Overeaters Anonymous," jokes Lorre. "In this case we had the courage to cast people who are just people, who are trying to make their lives better and find someone that they can love and be loved by."
McCarthy, who recently had a baby and says she'd like to lose a few pounds, also says that the show's issues about size were not what attracted her to the script. "I love that this show doesn't have any snarky quality to it, but it's still really funny and lovely," she says. "If we lose, if we gain, it's just not the axis that the show revolves around."
Gardell is more pragmatic. "I mean, I don't know. We're fat. The show's funny."
Mike & Molly premieres on CBS on Monday, Sept. 20 at 9:30/8:30c.