Mike and Molly Bring Fat Jokes to CBS!

Molly and Mike, Richard Cartwright-CBS

CBS’ new multi-camera sitcom, Mike and Molly [Mondays, 9:30/8:30/C], could easily be The Courtship of Roseanne – and frankly, though it is sporadically funny, it is weird in that most of the best jokes come from the two overweight leads: Melissa McCarthy [Molly] and Billy Gardell [Mike]. The rest come from an acerbic waiter named Samuel [Nyambi Nyambi], who is so good that he could probably carry a show himself.

Like Roseanne Conner, Molly Flynn has a gorgeous, thin sister, Victoria [Katy Mixon] and a slightly crazed mother, Joyce [Swoosie Kurtz]. The three live together and Molly is constantly vexed by their eating fattening foods in front of her while she exercises [apparently, they have the metabolisms of hummingbirds]. They are totally oblivious to Molly’s pain. Joyce because she’s just a bit cracked; Victoria because she’s a pothead and constantly high. As for Mike, you don’t much more blue collar than a cop on patrol. Wheeeeeeee!

Mike is police officer who is saddled with a partner, Carl [Reno Wilson], who is by turns sensitive and oblivious. But, like the good friend and partner he is, he watches out for Mike – helping him stay on his diet and steering him in the right direction when he sees him becoming interested in Molly.

Mike and Molly meet cute in an Overeaters Anonymous meeting and, by the time they leave, she has given him her phone number – to speak to her class [she teaches fourth grade] about being a police officer. From that point on, it’s all about getting the two together and the path that leads to his asking her out is both unusual and, occasionally funny.

Written by series creator Mark Roberts, the Mike and Molly premiere does give us a good sense of who each of our core cast of characters are. Legendary director James Burrows hits the appropriate character bits, but doesn’t always provide the full impact of the jokes – perhaps because they aren’t all effective to begin with.

The result is a premiere about the burgeoning romance between two overweight people where the fat jokes only work when they come from Mike or Molly – and, because of his hastily but effectively sketched background, Samuel. Joyce’s defence of Molly’s weight [“You’re big boned!”] is both pathetic and insulting, and we’re supposed to find it funny because she doesn’t realize how bad it is.

Even though Molly and Mike isn’t all funny, all the time, there’s a solid basis for a worthwhile show here. If the supporting characters [other than Samuel, who is already terrific] get some development so we can understand why they are the way they are, then they might be funnier – and take a bit of the load from Gardell and McCarthy.

I’ll be checking in on this one from time to time to see how the show develops.

Final Grade: C+

Photo by Richard Cartwright/Courtesy of CBS