While this fall's other new shows are predictably populated by hard-bodied lawyers, cops and teenagers, executive producer Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) broke the mold with Mike & Molly — a sitcom featuring shockingly normal-seeming people. With charming one-liners replacing six-pack abs, stand-up comic Billy Gardell and Gilmore Girls alum Melissa McCarthy not only look like average Americans, but their honest, vulnerable romance somehow makes even fat jokes feel warm and cuddly.
TV Guide Magazine: You're so likable on the show — do people really wish you two were a couple?Melissa: We're just starting to hear that! Someone on set asked, "So, any chance?" And I was like, "Are you asking if we're a couple? We're both married with kids!" And she went, "Awww!" This was a reporter!
Billy: Yeah, we both just really want to keep our jobs.
TV Guide Magazine: How does it feel to be leads?
Billy: A little overwhelming for me. I'm used to going, "Wonk, wonk!" and the audience laughs and I leave the room. But I'm trying to hang in, you know?
TV Guide Magazine: So how are people responding to your characters?
Billy: Viewers love that they look like people they know. They can go, "You know what? I'm like that!" It's been really positive when I've been out of California.
Melissa: He's not a superhero crimefighter, and I'm not doing some sort of molecular blabbityblab. Someone in Chicago said, "Oh, a Chicago cop and a teacher? That could never happen!" [Laughs] They were like, "It's weird to see something I can actually buy on TV!"
TV Guide Magazine: First date: Molly was sick. Then Mike got scared. Will these people ever get lucky?
Billy: You gotta keep watching, man! I got the hook in you now! I'm reeling you onto the boat!
Melissa: Oh, you stay tuned, my friend!
TV Guide Magazine: So should we expect hot-and-heavy love scenes?
Melissa: [Laughs] Oh, we're gonna show stuff that should be on HBO!
Billy: Smolders! [Yelling] It smolders! It's gonna be me and Melissa on the side of a building with flames behind us!
Melissa: Can you say pixilated?
TV Guide Magazine: Any hints when this will happen?
Melissa: Billy's just going to keep yelling "Smolders!"
Billy: That's gonna be the ad on the billboard: "Smolders!" Put that in capitals! SMOLDERS!
TV Guide Magazine: Do the weight jokes ever go too far?
Billy: Nah. You can't be politically correct and funny, man. They're gonna say far worse to me at the Friday late show in Minneapolis.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about the episode where Mike was afraid to take his clothes off.
Billy: It was wonderful, man. Nowadays, the pressure's so on to be perfect. You can imagine someone overweight having to do that in front of a girl he really likes. There's the giant fear she's not going to be able to deal with it.
Melissa: Letting him actually be so honest about his fears — to see someone kind of say, "Here's what it is, take it or leave it. And to let my character go, "You know what? I'll take it. I'll take it." That's what makes the comedy work. If it were menacing or malicious... But you can get away with a lot when you're honest, and it's based in love.
TV Guide Magazine: And nothing else will come between them, right? Mike's not gonna get shot, is he?
Billy: This isn't Dallas, man! "On a very special Mike & Molly: Who shot Mike?" Smoldering! Just write that! SMOLDERING!