'Mike & Molly' creator on the 'Marie Claire' blog (and the show moving beyond fat jokes)

Mike-and-Molly-creator-Mark-RobertsImage Credit: Art Streiber/CBS; Roger Walsh/LandovAs heated, personal discussions continue online about the Marie Claire blog post “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?),” in which the writer admits she doesn’t want to watch the leads on CBS’ Mike & Molly kiss or do anything else on her television or in real life, EW chatted Thursday with the show’s creator Mark Roberts. “I’m really not that angry. I’m hurt for my two friends [stars Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell] who had to read horrible things that some woman said about them,” he told us. “I feel more sad. That’s pretty much the predominant feeling.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The cast isn’t commenting on the Marie Claire post. Is it something that, as the show’s creator, you felt the need to address with them and the crew?
MARK ROBERTS:
I made a joke about it this morning at the table read, and then we moved on to more important things, like the fact that we just got picked up for a back 11 [giving it a full season order] and we’re the No. 1 new comedy of the season. We wanted to talk about good things. [Laughs]

Reading the comments on our take on the blog item, a secondary debate has emerged: Some fans think the show focuses too much on the weight issue or “fat jokes.” Though this week’s episode did seem to be moving away from that with Mike and Molly taking their relationship to the next level and becoming intimate.
These folks met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, and so there were the jokes about weight. We always envisioned that those will go away. The show is essentially, and has always been in mind, about two people falling in love and the value of putting the message out there that anybody can find someone. That’s what the show is about: Accepting each other, accepting each other’s differences. We all deserve love, and we’re all just human beings with our own struggles and our own problems. So to have somebody come out and say something like this woman said, she just sort of doesn’t even get the show and is kind of the exact opposite of the kind of person we’re trying to reach. Controversy is one thing, but at a certain point, you just have to say: Let’s not dwell too long on what stupid people say. 

I’m amazed the blogger didn’t think it would come across as bullying. I remember like 12 years ago, at a different job, a male editor asked a few of us female employees to talk to a new female coworker who we believed was anorexic about getting help. None of us was close to her, at all. [Right now, I couldn't even tell you her name because either she didn't let us get to know her or we didn't try.] I agreed that someone in her life needed to reach out to her, but I refused to do it because I knew from my own battle with the opposite kind of weight issue, unless you’re prepared to stick around and help that person deal with the issue (and pain) you bring up, you’re not helping. To say, “You need help,” or worse, “You make me uncomfortable, do something about that,” then run the other direction, just comes off as cruel.
What she did was not out of any concern or love for anybody. It’s just judgmental behavior. We all have our own problems. We all have things that we’re dealing with. To be honest, at the end of the day, it’s really nobody else’s business. To come out and publicly say the kinds of things she said about other human beings, it’s very high school. As I read it, I just pictured a girl sitting in a high school cafeteria saying snotty things to her other snotty friends. It just sounded very childish and not very thought-out. I’m guessing if she’s any kind of a human being, she’s really, really regretting what she did.

We have seen her apologize and Marie Claire is running a series of counterpoints. Is that how you’d like to see them respond?
I don’t really care what they do, to be honest with you. We’re just trying to put on a comedy show. [Laughs]

Has someone from Marie Claire, or the writer herself, tried to reach out to you or the cast?
I don’t think so. I haven’t heard anything.

Will this situation fuel an upcoming storyline? I’ve seen you joke about having Molly cancel her subscription to Marie Claire.
No, I wouldn’t give it that much importance, and I certainly wouldn’t give that magazine that much attention. I didn’t even know that it was a magazine until I heard about this. I thought it was a breakfast cereal. “Mom, can I have another bowl of Marie Claires.”

Some commenters have argued that the show only deserves to be on TV if the characters actually lose weight. How do you respond to that?
As I’ve said, the show is already the No. 1 new comedy of the season. We just picked up for a back 11. My feeling is there’s already people that get what we’re trying to do. The show is about two people trying to improve their lives. They are trying to deal with it. If you can’t root for these two human beings, then you really aren’t equipped with feelings. We’re not gonna make any changes in what our game plan was, which is just to explore the relationship of two people that love each other and that have problems that they’re dealing with. Which is really all of us. The idea that somebody is setting themselves apart and pretending like she doesn’t have problems, and then after everyone hammers her down, she comes out and admits, “Oh, well, I’ve got problems, too, and I guess that’s the reason I lashed out at other human beings in a really hateful way,” I don’t know what to say. [Laughs]

It’s upsetting because you want to believe that this kind of judgment was over in high school, but reading that post (and many of the comments supporting it), you realize no, it’s just that as adults, most people have learned to keep it to themselves. I think a post that brings in the idea of “This is what your physical appearance does to me,” has the reverse result of what the author supposedly wants, which is to encourage people to get healthy. The reaction turns out to be immobilizing embarrassment that makes you want to hide or defiant anger that makes you want to say, “F— you. I’m not going to change for you. If I do this, it needs to be about me.”
First of all, no one has the right to tell anybody else what they need to be doing. That’s the part of this… Most of the people I know have some kind of issue with food, one way or another. They’ve either got 10 pounds, or 50 pounds, or how many pounds. Everybody I know generally talks about what they’ve eaten and how they’re trying to lose weight. It’s not up to anybody else on the planet to look at them and go, “Here’s what I think you should do.” We live in a society where people write things down and they show up on the Internet, and people feel entitled to give their opinion and entitled to tell other people how they should be living their lives. I think you’re right: Deal with your own stuff, let me deal with mine. If it’s not on your timetable, sorry. But it’s really none of your business… Wow, you’re getting my ire up.

It’s the people who argue that plus-size or overweight people should only be seen on The Biggest Loser that get to me. Showing people living full lives isn’t glorifying obesity. [No one is going to watch a table collapse when Mike leans on it and think a) he's happy about it or b) I want to do that! If you're worried people actually forget they're overweight, they don't. But they do have jobs, friends, family, lovers. Life does go on for people like Mike and Molly.] I’ve always thought some people are homophobic because they’ve never met someone who’s gay: If they had, they’d know there’s so much more to that person than who they sleep with. There’s so much more to overweight people than their body issues, and to say you only want to see a Biggest Loser-type show, is saying, “I only see your body, not what you do with your life.”
We should all say a little prayer for the American culture, if that’s how we’re deciding to look at human beings. If we can’t love and accept each other for our differences, for our problems, for our struggles, we’re not really allowed to call ourselves human beings. It’s such a ridiculous form of prejudice. How long has it been since Roseanne was on the air? It’s startling to me.

Roseanne didn’t revolve around their weight. Did you feel like you had to have the characters meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting to get this love story on the air?
I didn’t really think about using it as a device. It just seemed like a very good way to show that these two people 1) have problems that are very, very human, and 2) they’re trying to take steps to deal with them. That speaks volumes about who these two people are as human beings. It helped a lot to have that. It provides a humanity to them that most sitcoms don’t have. If you look at most sitcoms, [they feature] jokes strung together told by people that are unrealistic. They’re too beautiful, they live in an apartment that they can’t afford based on the jobs that they’ve been fictionally given. It just makes me sad that this is what we’re focusing on as opposed to the fact that there are two really, really wonderfully brilliant comic actors that are doing an amazing job.

This is the first negative response to the show that made real headlines. So long after its premiere, did the backlash surprise you?
I don’t consider this a backlash. The show is successful, that’s all I see. Anytime you put something out in the world, somebody is gonna be upset about it. And that’s fine. That’s the risk you take when you write a movie, or write a book, or write a play. People are gonna have opinions about them. That’s what they’re supposed to do. This wasn’t about the show, this wasn’t about the writing, this wasn’t about the acting. This was about someone’s hateful response to how these two human beings look. She has to look at her face in the mirror.

Read more: Should ‘fatties’ get a room? No. But it is time for TV to move beyond fact jokes.

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Comments (180 total) Add your comment
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  • Diane

    ..”rolls & rolls of fat”… blah, blah..
    It’s simple, really. CHANGE THE f)*()&& CHANNEL!!!!

    :D

    • Fifth Column

      JOHN MAY LIVES

    • Linda Penland

      Feel real sorry for you. Especially anyone who’d fat around your family.

  • Roxy Gantes

    Will be boycotting MARIE CLAIRE! And will be getting all of our my FB, friends and family to do the same!

    • GN

      Agreed! And I read Marie Claire “fully backs” what this idiot Kelly said and will not fire her… I am not overweight, but I have friends that are and I will not give a dollar to these hateful people.

    • Alia

      I’ll boycott with you, Roxy! No more Marie Claire for me! (And if Glamour’s smart, they’ll come out with a smart, sensitive response to this issue that will enable them to pick up the readers MC loses.)

      • Lucy

        I’m boycotting too! I’ll stick with InStyle from now on.

    • Bobbie Foster

      Me too!!!

    • Pamela

      go on Marie Claires website and send a letter to the editor.

      • Bobbie Foster

        Thanks!!! Thats a great idea.

    • yepyep

      I think everyone should make sure that Marie Claires gets the hint that the blog was crap from a crappy writer. Its articles like this that hurt our lovely daughters, I have three and one of them can never seem to feel skinny enough, so thank you for reassuring teens that they need to be so skinny that it can make them sick.
      Marie Claires need to be held accountable for its writers and the idiot that wrote it is one ugly person inside, it doesnt matter what she might look like on the outside, because her soul is sad.

      BOYCOTT PEOPLE BOYCOTT!!!!!

  • KAREN

    IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE ACTORS BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY LOOK, THEN JUST DON’T WATCH THEM. I HAPPEN TO LOVE THE SHOW.

    • donna

      I love the show..What a breath of fresh air!

  • anita cansler

    Funny how watching fat people kiss bothers people. We never hear a peep from anyone when gay people kiss on he air. I turn my television to a different chaneland refuse to watch more episodes when gay people kiss because I don’t like having it crammed down my throat. It’s as if a gay person has to be represented in every show or movie yet fat people get criticized. Society certainly has their priorities screwed up.
    Anita

    • Pamela

      So seeing two gay people kiss is having it shoved down your throat? Seriously, as they are kissing are they screaming “hey, be like me and kiss other girls/guys?” I don’t think so homophobe. A gay person being represented on a show just shows that Hollyweird is evolving and it is becoming more socially acceptable to have people who like different things. Not my cup of tea but I certainly would not fault another person for who they love. So grow up and learn something.

      • Linda Penland

        Okay. I think we need a show with fat,skinny,gay,and a person of every race in it. I lobe everyone defaulted or race,or gender preference.
        I am Navaho Indian/Mexican, my daughter is engaged to a Korean fantastic man. My brother is half Mexican/English married to a Girl from Thailand and my priest is a Africa American. We should love each other.
        This show is great for us men/woman who are big NOT overweight. It good for the public to see we may be Big but we too are loved and wanted.
        My boyfriend loves me fore not my size. He says that more men need to see the Love and passion and fun big woman have and to be proud of walking with one in their arms.
        My end comment. Let’s just love one another regardless of genderlove or race.

    • Kris

      So their priorities should be love fat people, hate gays? Gay people are represented as token characters the way black people were token characters 10 years ago. They are heavily featured because not everyone is straight and if a show doesn’t have a gay character, it’s not representing all forms of life. I’m not saying that every show needs a token gay but the fact that you think television shouldn’t have gay people on it cause you don’t like to watch them is the exact same ignorant opinion the girl from Marie Claire is being criticized for. You’re just as bas as she is.

      • whatevs

        There are fewer Hispanics or Asians on mainstream TV than there are gay people. So if you want to talk about representing all forms of life, the amount that certain people are featured is skewed.

      • jules

        well said, Kris. Anita, you are a hypocrite and a bigot.

      • eddiehaskell

        I can’t say I hate gays, and I love Mike and Molly too. I don’t like that every show seems to want to have a gay character now to (usually an attractive lesbian) to get ratings. To met that isn’t realistic either. Not all gays are gorgeous.

      • Silv

        “So their priorities should be love fat people, hate gays?”

        Kris, don’t offer these idiots this alternative, even sarcastically. Why does there need to be a hated group?

        On the other hand, yes, I’ve got a group to be hated: ignorant, biased people. This world is big enough for everyone – except the ignorant.

      • Annette

        Gay people act as if they have been oppressed for 1000 years when they have not! Black people have been oppressed for over 1000 years because society still sucks! Yes, I am mad that their is hardly any Hispanics and Asians on TV partly because I am an Hispanic American who want’s to see Hispanics on television represented in a good way.

      • Fireflystare221

        Annette, people like you infuriate me. If you are mad about one group being dsicriminated against, you should be mad about ANY group being discriminated against. You, better than others, should understand how it feels to be seen as a second class citizen. How do you expect people to want to stand up for you when you look down on others? What a disgusting hypocrite. It doesn’t matter who was discriminated against longer or worse, blacks, gays, hispanics- are all HUMAN BEINGS first and deserve equal rights.

    • BFD

      You know what bothers me, watching unrealistically beautiful people do round robin sex in the workplace with every other character that might flash their fancy. You know what else bothers me, glorifying unwed teen pregnancy. You know what else bothers me, a persistent abusive drug addict being rewarded for bad behavior and his show not losing any sponsors. That bothers me. Two people kissing who don’t have 0% body fat, that don’t bother me.

      • LorLor

        This

      • Katja

        Very well said.

      • sfw

        yes.

      • john

        thank you

      • PF

        Word.

    • anita life

      Have you been living under a rock, you insane homophobe. People organize public lynchings when gays kiss on TV, what shows do you watch and in which country do you watch them, where all this gay kissing is happening? How do people have their priorities screwed up? Fat people can loose weight, gay people can’t “ungay” themselves just so that you don’t wretch every time you see two humans showing affection.

    • julie

      We’re talking about overweight people here, why do you crazy fundies always have to start up with the gays. People will be talking about uncomfortable airplane seats and then someone insane loon like you will chime in about how gay marriage is to blame for uncomfortable airplane seats. Go see a shrink, because your weird obsession with gays definitely means something’s not right up stairs.

    • Tarc

      Actually, the world screams (people like you, apparently) when gay people do exactly what straight people do (and cram down everybody else’s throat) 24-7-365. I’d suggest a shrink, personally.

    • DavidH

      You are such a homophobe. First off I love the show Mike and Molly and am happy that CBS gave us a full season.
      Not only am I overweight but I am gay too. I have friends from all walks of life and I do not understand where all the hate comes from. Most Americans have a distorted belief on how things should be. You should try living in England, Germany or Italy for a while. They believe in letting people be. I am a proud gay man with a loving partner of several years and a double disposable income and a life that allows us to travel and cruise the world.

      At least I am not some bigot that only spews hate from their mouth and really has nothing to say. You should just bury your head in the sand and keep your comments to yourself.

  • Molly

    Mandi – I just want to say that your questions for Roberts were very thoughtful and graceful, and summed up much of what I thought about this article. Kelly’s writing was judgmental and cruel, and all under the guise of concern for those poor fat people that she sees waddling across the room. What worries me most is the nature of so many of the comments on her post and on this site – how people can be so judgmental about an entire group they know nothing about. It’s unfair and hurtful to suggest that all obese people are fat because they are lazy and eat badly.

    • Xena Warrior Princess

      mandi did a great job

    • j

      Agreed. This woman’s comments were disgusting, ignorant, and, just plain old badly written. I hope Marie Claire fires her. I’m not reading their magazine again until/unless they do. She is a bully and, as far as I can tell from her half-hearted apology, not a very sincere person.

  • Molly

    Additionally, I noted that much of the comments dealt w/ this show’s so-called “glorifying” of obesity. Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the show, but it would seem that the fact that the two leads met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting suggests that they are attempting to do something about their weight (much like those people who attend AA meetings are trying to do something about their alcoholism). That, to me, hardly seems to be glorifying obesity.

    • kate

      Absolutely! If the show was Mike and Molly entering eating contests and raiding fast food joints we could talk about them glorifying obesity. I do watch and can tell you that is certainly not the case. They go to OA meetings and talk about their weight struggle. It’s really just a show about people who just happen not to be size zero. It’s refreshing to watch two people go through the nervousness of a new relationship and have it be realistic. There is nothing more annoying than the model who is afraid she isn’t pretty enough.

    • Sarah

      I definitely agree that the show isn’t glorifying overeating. I don’t think many people will finish watching an episode and decide that becoming overweight will improve their lives. The fact is that millions of Americans are overweight, so to me it seems natural that television would depict a group of people that’s so prevalent in our country. Overweight people go through all the same life experiences that thin people go through, so to say that they shouldn’t be shown kissing, etc. seems rather presumptuous to me.

    • Boo

      If she even bothered to WATCH the show she would have realized that, instead of making snap hurtful judgments

  • Gail

    I love this show! I hope the Marie Claire debacle only brings them additional publicity.

    • Taylor

      I can’t agree with you more!!

  • Maggie

    The MC writer displayed a great deal of ignorance in writing about a show she admits she has never watched. However, the people involved in the show have to take responsibility for being complicit in creating an atmosphere where fat jokes are not just accepted but the very foundation of the show. Their meeting at Overeaters Anon. isn’t an excuse for the fat jokes; it’s just part of the set up for all the “heehee; they’re soooo fat…” punchlines. I love Melissa McCarthy; she was terrific as Sookie on Gilmore Girls. She deserves more than “comedy” about her weight. The creator promises the fat jokes will fall away, but they’ve already turned me off.

    • GN

      I know! Where are the articles about how tired we are of seeing size zero women prancing around in EVERY tv show and every movie?

    • Linda

      Funny that when Melissa was on Gilmore Girls her weight was never mentioned.

      • Dave

        Because according to the unwritten rules of television and movies, fat women can only have supporting roles. Make a fat woman, even one as gorgeous as Melissa, the star and you’re asking for the haters to crawl out of the muck and slither to their keyboards.

  • Taylor

    you suck marie claire!! I am overweight my self and I do not put up with “skinny” people talking about overweight people. I LOVE U MIKE AND MOLLY!!

  • celeste

    I dont have a problem with the actors, I have a problem with the jokes… really in the episodes I have seem because or their weight the characters have broke a table, turn over a nother one…

    • erin

      What?

  • Kara

    Billy Gardell is my cousin. He is a part of my family. i do not appreciate you making fun of him or Melissa. Have some respect. We are not perfect. And being overweight is nothiung to be ashamed of. We are all human beings. God made us to love each other not ridicule others for their flaws.

    • Alia

      This is something to think about, folks. Every “fatty” you make fun of is someone’s brother or sister or parent or friend. Would you still say the same things if the person in question were YOUR loved one? Wouldn’t you want them to be happy? To find love? Or would you still think they didn’t deserve it because of their “rolls and rolls of fat”?

      Is it so difficult for us to be kind to each other?

      • CJ

        I’m being kind by telling these fat people how unhealthy their lifestyle is. Obesity is a GIGANTIC (no pun intended) health risk. I can’t pretend like its “no big deal, everybody deals with it”. Whats kinder than trying to save these people’s lives?
        I have an aunt who is wheel-chair bound because she let herself get so obese, and a niece who is almost 150lbs overweight. Her doctors have told her that she will not survive if she maintains her level of poor health.
        Everybody wants to coddle overweight people, but the fact is they are really hurting themselves.

      • Alia

        It’s not your job to save their lives, CJ. Do you go snatching cigarettes away from every smoker you see?

        People with weight issues KNOW they have issues, and it’s their responsibility to deal with them. If you want to help, either be supportive or mind your own business.

      • GLA

        CJ, you think you are being kind? And, do you think overweight people decided to get overweight for fun? Or maybe they just stopped taking the stairs! Yeah, that must be it.

        You are not being kind, you are being stupidly obtuse to something you OBVIOUSLY don’t freaking understand. Being overweight since forever equals: being bullied at school (as in: until you become an adult) in every grade by people you don’t know. It means apologizing on the bus when you want to sit down, because you may squeaze the person beside you a little. It means thinking about suicide. For some people, it means trying diets all their lives.

        Wow, your relatives are great examples, as we can see, you helped them with your kindness!
        They must be so happy to know you, and benefit from your constructive comments “hey, stop hurting yourself by doing whatever! it is bad!”

        Don’t you think overweight people know they are overweight? Don’t you think they are trying?

        Stupid b##tch.

      • Molly

        Calling yourself kind, CJ, is a delusional defense of your judgmental instincts. Like Alia said above, it’s not your job to save lives, and I can promise you that people w/ weight problems are very much aware of both their weight problem and other people’s problem w/ them. It’s not about coddling, it’s about not involving yourself in other people’s business.

      • CJ

        Yup…because staying out of people’s business has stopped the obesity problem in our country FOR SURE. As far as my neice goes, we debated having an intervention with her because she just wasn’t making any attempt to get healthy. We ended up not doing it because some people were afraid it would hurt her feelings. Now? Shes become diabetic, and continues to pack on the pounds. There comes a time when somebody HAS to step in, and our country is at that time.

      • Dez

        CJ said
        “Everybody wants to coddle overweight people, but the fact is they are really hurting themselves.”
        OK, hurting themselves- NOT YOU.
        People upset about same sex marriage? Don’t marry someone of the same sex.
        I don’t know why it is that people feel they have the right to dictate their beliefs on everything from lifestyle, politics- every aspect of their neighbors’ lives.
        Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada once said “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” People just need to learn to mind their own business about a lot of things.

      • CJ

        To Dez.
        If I see somebody blatantly hurting themself I feel like I should try to help them.
        If a friend of mine was an alcoholic I wouldn’t just shrug my shoulders and say “so be it.” I’d try to help.
        In my eyes, severe obesity is no different than alcohol or drug abuse. Apparently that makes me persona non grata on these boards.

      • Raquel

        CJ, seriously? Do you really think overweight people need you telling them they are overweight? And, you really think this is helping them? Odds are, it is doing the opposite. And, not every overweight person is built the same. Some people truly try to the right thing and struggle. Some people completely earn thier oveweight bodies, but in neither case is it helpful to point out the obvious or to be hurtful in doing it.

      • CJ

        It seems the other posters think I just walk down the street telling fat people that they’re fat. I’m saying when it becomes life or death for a person, somebody who cares should step in. Sadly, have seen what happens when its clear that an overweight person will NOT help themself.
        I don’t think just telling them they’re overweight is helping them, no. You can go about educating an overweight person in proper diet & exercise while being couth, and not being a bully.
        Is it better to watch somebody eating themself to death and not step in because you might appear hurtful?

      • RT

        CJ…Your comments do seem to come from wanting to help someone you care about, but doing it in the manner you have described isn’t the way. As someone who has been overweight with major health issues, I did not need someone pointing it out, giving me diet tips, being the food/exercise police. I knew exactly what I needed to do. It’s so much harder than anyone who has never been there could ever understand. What I needed more than anything (and thankfully got from my wonderful husband) is someone who loved me unconditionally and supported me in every way regardless of my weight. That, along with help from a counselor to help me understand my food issues, finally helped me have permanent weight loss success.

  • Tashina

    This is just plain crazy!”Fatties” really.What a nasty piece thing to say.Maura Kelly is trash so not classy.She looks sickly so i’m not suprised.What a head case this is coming from a women who use to starve herself.

    • Jacoby

      Yeah, you seem to be a WHOLE lot more noble than she is…

      • Tarc

        The point being that anyone that’s shaking a finger is usually first in line to have a finger shaken back. Rocks. Glass houses.

  • Chappel

    I’ve been eating Marie Claires for breakfast for years and because of what that woman said I’m switching to Cap’n Crunch. It’s the least I can do.

    • jerkface

      lmao!

  • Randi

    How disgusting. I’ll never look at Marie Claire again.

  • cindy

    I love the show .i think everybody needs little bit of love.anyway wrong with this lady hope she doesnt gain weight that will be funny .karma will get her haha

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