I realise I’m supposed to see beyond the overweight jokes in this new sitcom, but gosh they just keep making them….
Hot on the heels of $#*! My Dad Says Nine is launching US sitcom Mike and Molly. This one isn’t created by Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) but he is the Executive Producer. So the form of this is another traditional multicam sitcom with loads of laughing Americans.
Michael Biggs (Billy Gardell) is a Chicago cop partnered with wise-cracking Carlton McMillan (Reno Wilson). Despite being perenially single, Michael maintains a healthy sense of humour, if struggling to stick to a healthy diet.
While attending an Overeaters’ Anonymous meeting he meets Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy), a sweet, chirpy school teacher, who has a brash, streetwise sister Victoria (Katy Mixon). Molly invites Mike to attend her class and give her students an occupational talk about policing, but she has an ulterior motive: romance.
There’s not much point trying to skate around the weight, or rather the overweight, issues here. It is front and centre of this show, visually and politically. Gags about body size start in the first scene and end in the last, which is not to say that there isn’t a sweetness to the relationship of the leads. If only they didn’t keep coming back to the fat jokes.
Carl: I am not gonna let you blow your diet. You just lost three and a half pounds.
Mike: Oh big deal. My farts weight three and a half pounds.
Carl: God couldn’t bring Molly to the mountain, so he brought the mountain to Molly.
Mike: I’m the mountain, right?
Carl: You’re the freakin’ Himalayas.
Remember, you’re laughing with them not at them.
No doubt we are supposed to be impressed that network television is brave enough to produce a series featuring such Rubenesque characters. But then I am reminded of Roseanne, Lost‘s Hurley, Homer Simpson, Cheers‘ Norm Petersen -heck even The Honeymooners Jackie Gleason was never reduced to so many weight gags.
Also in the cast is Swoosie Kurtz (Pushing Daisies, Huff, American Dad, An Englishman in New York), always an interesting character actress. Kurtz plays Molly’s caustic mother.
James Burrows (Taxi, Cheers, Will and Grace), who directed the pilot of $#*! My Dad Says, also directs the pilot of this comedy. Unlike the Shatner comedy he actually sticks with this project, directing further episodes. That encourages me this this will move beyond constantly returning to weight gags for its comedy and allowi us to warm to its central characters.
Mike and Molly‘s biggest challenge is to illustrate that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, however oversized. Here’s hoping.
Mike and Molly airs 8:00pm Wednesday on Nine.