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Television Mon May 02 2011

"Mike & Molly": It's Not What You Think

99640_D0454b.jpgLast week, I wrote about the Chicago police drama The Chicago Code; this week I want to focus on another show about Chicago cops: "Mike & Molly."

"Wait just a minute," perhaps you're thinking, "'Mike & Molly' isn't a show about cops, it's a show about fat people." And you'd be half right. The first few episodes find the title characters (played by Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy) at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, so their size is a clear catalyst for the series. Yet for all the attention "Mike & Molly" has gotten for focusing on an overweight couple -- not the typical look for television sweethearts -- the show isn't about fat people any more than it's about cops. It's about two people falling in love, and those people happen to be overweight. And one of them is also a cop.

I'm not sure that the girth of "Mike and Molly" has that much to do with the show's Chicago setting, though we are a city with many fat people (a 2009 survey by Men's Fitness ranked us the 13th fattest city in the nation). The city comes through most directly in 5-second bumpers between scenes, when the passing of an El train or a shot of Marina City reminds us that we're in Chicago. Beyond that, the city owns its Chicagohood pretty well for a show shot in a Hollywood studio. The writers manage to fit in passing references to the Bulls, one episode takes place at a Cubs game, and sometimes you can spot a Bears or Blackhawks jersey in the background. Molly's would-be stepfather has a classic Chicago accent, and Steppenwolf great Rondi Reed is featured in several episodes as Mike's mother.

While it isn't exactly must-see TV, "Mike & Molly" is a breezy, enjoyable sitcom in the classic multi-camera tradition, and its relative success bodes well for the genre, once thought near-dead at the hands of reality television. Its stars are sweet and fun, but the biggest laughs typically come from the supporting players, especially Molly's spacey sister Victoria (Katy Mixon). Those who find formula comedies tiresome will likely never be fans; lovers of the much-maligned genre will find plenty to laugh about each week. And I'm not talking about fat jokes.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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