Just a quick post to remind everyone that Mike & Molly begins tonight, and the reviews are coming in.
Linda Holmes at NPR:
It has a lot of dumb jokes and broad (har har) portrayals, and everyone in the writers’ room should do 20 laps for the moment where two fat guys don’t know enough not to wedge themselves into a stairwell (a joke worthy of Saved By The Bell) and 25 more for a busted-furniture joke.
That stuff absolutely has to stop if the show is going to improve, both because it’s embarrassingly lazy and because it’s less observant about weight issues than some other nice moments in the opener. See, a guy like Mike is bound to be acutely aware of himself and is highly unlikely to cavalierly lean on tables. That’s not a “don’t make fun” killjoy thing; that’s a character thing. The cheap visuals are hard to resist, of course, but they must be resisted when they interfere with what is otherwise, surprisingly enough, a pretty human picture of these two people.
Dan Fienberg (co-signed by Alan Sepinwall) at Hitfix:
There are two different shows at war in the pilot for “Mike & Molly.”
One is a surprisingly sensitive, occasionally funny character study about two people who have had struggles in their lives, but now have maybe found a life partner. It’s not that you ever forget that the characters in this version of the story are overweight. No, the majority of the punchlines are still girth-based, but the gags rarely seem malicious and the tone of the comedy stems from welcome and familiar interaction with friends and loved ones. That is to say that there are definitely fat jokes, but they’re sheltered within a safe space.
In this show, Gardell and McCarthy are excellent…
In [the other] version of “Mike & Molly,” our female lead is introduced comically and frantically and somewhat humiliatingly working out to the blaring strains of “Brick House.” That version has one table destroyed and another upended by Mike’s inconvenient heft. That version has a ridiculous scene in which two Overeaters Anonymous members literally get stuck in a stairwell because they’re walking side-by-side.
I think that there’s less of this “Mike & Molly” than there is of the good version, but this is the version that the studio audience (sweetened laugh track) seems to most enjoy and this is the version that probably will stand out as the most memorable. This is the version about two fat people, who happen to be in love. This is the version that’s laughing at its main characters and not with them.
Feinberg also adds this:
If you have a comedy about any group of people who aren’t represented extensively on television, you probably don’t want to be laughing *at* them. Beyond just being smug and insufferable, you’re pigeon-holding the totality of a group’s representation down to being the subject for mockery. It’s here that one sadly needs to point out that in TV comedy, just about anybody who isn’t pretty, thin, white and middle-to-upper class is under represented. We’ve advanced a tiny bit from the days where the cast of “Friends” could wander around New York City for over a decade and meet roughly two people who didn’t look exactly like them, but not very far.
It’s great that the critics seem to be calling the show out on its fatism, and pointing towards some of the show’s possibilities for a positive representation of fat people. So will you be watching it? (I, sadly, will be working tonight and will miss both it and How I Met Your Mother.) If so, come back and let us know what you think!
Posted by mo pie