CBS’ ‘Mike & Molly‘ realized this week that it’s not all fun and games being TV’s No. 1 new comedy. Rather, the Monday-night sitcom landed in the crosshairs of a Marie Claire writer who in an online piece titled “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room?” questioned the very idea of centering a TV series on what she called a “morbidly obese” couple.
The blogger, Maura Kelly, went on to apologize for being “insensitive” with her remarks, while Marie Claire‘s editor in chief defended her staffer as being “very provocative.” Here, ‘Mike & Molly’ creator Mark Roberts shares his own thoughts on the controversial piece.
How and where did you first get wind of the Marie Claire story?
Well, you know, I subscribe to Marie Claire, and I was lying outside getting some sun in my thong…. I almost spilled my mimosa, I was so outraged. No, I came to work and saw it in my email. I sort of glanced over it, then went to work. When I started getting a lot of phone calls, I sat down and read the whole thing.
Did you at first think it might be some sort of joke or piece of satire?
I wasn’t quite sure what it was except hateful. It just seemed pretty hateful. It seemed like something someone would say when they’re really drunk at a party with their other hateful friends, but may be not good to write down and put it out for people to look at.
Among the author’s choicer sound bites, she claims the show “implicitly promotes obesity.” I must have missed that episode.
Yeah, that was the “Eat More Fudge” episode. No, it’s crazy. The idea behind the show is to get some real-looking, lovable people on TV and watch them go on that journey of finding someone to care about – which we all deserve to do. And granted, I’m very biased, but [series stars] Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell are two of the sweetest, cutest and loveliest people I have ever been around and have been lucky enough to watch work. So to see somebody talk about them that way angered me. It was ridiculous.
Ms. Kelly – who admits to having never seen ‘Mike & Molly’ – said she’d be “grossed out” not even to watch the leads kiss, but to watch them “do anything.”
It’s something you would hear one of the really stupid girls say in a high school cafeteria. It’s not something you expect to come from an adult. She did apologize, but I’m taking her off my Facebook friends.
It seems like a disconnect for an article like this to coexist in the same environment as a show like ‘Mike & Molly.’ You’re trying to get out a message that this writer seems oblivious to.
This show is about how everybody in the world deserves to have love, so to have somebody come out and say that these people should not even be seen in public is insane. And then the idea that she comes out and says, “Well, I have my own body issues”? [Kelly says she has a “history as an anorexic.”] Well, clearly you’ve reached a really strong, spiritual place where your struggle has allowed you a certain understanding for other people. Unfortunately we live in a judgmental society, but I think most people are supportive, and the way that people have come out against this [article] shows how people really feel about it.
Is there a particular episode you’d want to point Ms. Kelly to, to possibly affect her view?
You know, I really don’t want her as a viewer. [Laughs] She can go watch something else. Maybe Animal Planet or something.
You’re not tempted to send her the Season 1 set tucked inside a Sweet E‘s cookie basket?
I might do that! Or I might wrap some cotton candy around it and send it to her. You know, I feel sorry for somebody that thinks that way or sees other people that way. It doesn’t make me hate her; it just makes me feel very, very sorry for her.
Looking ahead: What sort of stories do you have on tap for November sweeps?
[Joking] Well, we have this great episode coming up where Molly cancels her subscription to Marie Claire…. No, no, we’re just sort of opening up Mike and Molly’s relationship. Last week, we got them in the same bed together, and now we’re trying to approach each story as another part of the relationship unfolding.
Is the show evolving into what you hoped it would be six, eight months ago?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We’ve had so much support from Warner Bros. [TV] and CBS, and having [sitcom super-producer] Chuck [Lorre] and [director] Jimmy Burrows involved, and with this amazing cast, we’ve been able to really gel pretty quickly. Hopefully we’ll keep growing and discovering where we’re headed.