In Ed's sassy, self-confident schoolmarm Molly Hudson, Lesley Boone, 32, has a role she can be proud of. Unfortunately, the plus-size actress didn't always have it so good. In the early '90s, she launched her acting career on the short-lived Fox sitcom Babes — and immediately got that sinking feeling.

"The premise of the show was three heavyset sisters living together in one small New York City apartment," Boone tells TV Guide Online. "At first, I was quite offended by the scripts. It was gratuitous humor. It wasn't savvy and smart." Thoughtfully, she adds, "You know, I was a baby when I did that. I don't regret doing that job; it taught me a lot, good and bad. But after the series ended, I was pigeonholed and I couldn't get out. Every role that came my way was the poor, pathetic fat girl who didn't have a life — I didn't want to portray that."

Flashing forward to the present, Boone smiles, "I'd be lying if I said I didn't wake up everyday and wish I was a size four. But now I'm older and wiser, and that's not how I define myself."

Fortunately, the Ed scribes don't do that either. "It's so funny because [my weight] has never even been touched upon, which I find really refreshing," she says. Actually, her greater challenge has been making Molly more than a mere go-between for lovebirds Ed (Tom Cavanagh) and Carol (Julie Bowen). "Every once in awhile," she recalls, "I would jokingly march into the writers' office and say, 'Can I have a boyfriend please? Can I have something to do?'"

This month, it looks like the actress finally gets her wish. Not only will spunky Molly beat out flaxen-haired Carol for a date with "a wacky, nutty professor type," Boone previews, but she'll also make nice with guest star David Eigenberg, who played Miranda's beau on HBO's Sex and the City.

Even so, Boone knows many Ed aficionados are hoping to see Molly bowl a romantic strike with the titular bowling-alley lawyer. "Honestly, in TV land, the classic idea is leading-man-gets-leading-pretty-woman, not her best friend," she says candidly. "But Molly's crush on Ed just came out organically [in my performance]. Tom Cavanagh has the bluest eyes in the world, and when you're acting with him, it's hard not to get lost in them. I don't know if Molly and Ed will ever get together, but I'm flattered that everybody likes her so much that they want that."