My Big Fat TV Show

Can plus-sized actors only snag funny, fat roles?

Over the past few years, TV viewers have been served up a slew of fat-centric shows designed to portray overweight people in a realistic light. More To Love. Biggest Loser. Drop Dead Diva. Dance Your Ass Off. Ruby. HUGE. Most of them have been reality series (in which contestants, desperately unhappy with their body size, attempt to shed pounds); a few are dramedies.

Enter Mike & Molly. The new CBS comedy, described by Gawker.com as Family Matters meets the King of Queens meets the Biggest Loser, is about two overweight people looking for love. The man, cop Mike Biggs (wink wink), meets fourth-grade teacher Molly Flynn at -- shocker -- an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

But is it a step in the right direction? The humor seems a bit sophomoric:

-Abbreviated, the show would be called M & M, just like the candy…which is what big people eat!

-The main male character’s name is Mike Biggs. Why was the woman not named Molly Gigante?

-They meet at Overeaters Anonymous. Because that’s what fat people do: Try to lose weight.

With so many fat jokes, you could make a drinking game out of it, (Take a shot when she says hugging Mike is like “hugging a futon”!) critics complain that the producers wasted an opportunity to center a show around two people looking for love…who simply happen to be overweight. Molly could have just been like many of us: A women who is pretty and smart but not whippet thin. Instead, critics have taken issue with the heavy reliance on plus-sized humor:

-“The entire show is basically one long, unfunny fat joke.”ESC TV

-“The potential for cringeworthiness is high, and the pilot sometimes falls on the wrong side of the line between self-deprecatingly comic and just plain mean.” - Boston Globe

-“There’s something blandly nutrition-less and sugary about Mike & Molly, CBS’s new Hostess Twinkie of a Monday night sitcom. As you’ve probably been made aware, it stars two fat people. Quite fat. Every other joke in it is a fat joke -- of the safe, self-deprecating variety… Mike & Molly” springs forth from…a realm where birthday cards come with bathroom scale jokes and feature kitty cats who like chocolate cake.” - Washington Post

It’s progressive to cast plus-sized actors and actresses in primetime roles. But that progress is stripped away if they’re presented with scripts full of self-deprecating fat jokes. Does CBS think Big Love can only blossom at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting? Do they think overweight people sit around cracking witty puns about their girth over Happy Hour beers? It doesn’t seem so, considering Molly actress Melissa McCarthy’s (who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she auditioned) recent declaration: “Sure, I'd like to lose some weight. And I plan on taking some of the baby weight off. But it doesn't make everything in the world crumble. I think I'm OK." 

Did you watch Mike & Molly? What did you think of it? Chime in below.

 

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