Monday, March 28, 2011
CBS's Mike and Molly is neo-Roseanne: a working-class sitcom that finds its metaphors and purpose in the beautifully ironic predicament of obesity and activity, being fat and being overworked and being in love. I just saw a repeat of the Thanksgiving episode -- it was my first Mike and Molly experience -- and I was in hog heaven. The two leads, Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy, have a banter and chemistry hardly ever seen on TV. They don't preen or pose ala Friends or all the imitators of Friends. They actually have a strange familiarity, a language first created for Dan and Roseanne in that preeminent 80s/90s working-class sitcom, one of the first representations of working-class fatties that didn't make dumb jokes at their expense, but allowed the jokes to come from the mouths of the fatties: tired, mean spirited but ultimately gorgeously moral put downs and asides that allowed the tired and depressed and over-weight a voice and a flare.
Mike and Molly's style evolves from that Roseanne-fat-ass-venom. But this is also a love story at its core: Mike and Molly are courting, and their love is both innocent and worn out. And when push comes to shove, Molly, a school teacher with papers to grade, makes jokes about Mike's sleep-apnea machine, and Mike, a cop with boyish charm to spare, finds solace in someone who understands him enough to make jokes about his sleep-apnea machine.
Mike and Molly are trying to escape a universe of skinny people, it seems: trying to find a way out of being gazed-upon as freaks.
Which is a great segue into the whole Marie Clare controversy from back in the fall. A bitchy Marie Clare editor wrote a blog about Mike and Molly in which she penned crap like: "I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything."
This show is a direct assault on skinny bitches. And also on the way we tend to try to overlook what makes us human. We want perfection given to us often so we can validate hating ourselves. Mike and Molly allows us a respite from that. "Skinny bitches" are often the punchlines on this show. The gaze is not on their side. And really what the hell is wrong with that?