When Melissa McCarthy became pregnant with her second child, she considered taking time off. But pilot season was approaching, and McCarthy, a veteran of “Gilmore Girls,” had a shot at some meaty roles.
So she gave her agents “the list.” The show had to be a sitcom, shot near her house, with her as the lead. Oh, and it had to be on CBS.
A few weeks later, she was going back to work.
This seemingly tailormade show was “Mike & Molly,” a Chuck Lorre-Mark Roberts production that become a ratings hit in its first season — averaging more than 10 million viewers a week. McCarthy is Molly, a sweet schoolteacher in a budding romance with Chicago cop Mike (Billy Gardell), surrounded by the requisite eccentric friends and family.
“Mike & Molly” is, in many ways, a traditional laugh-track sitcom. But it’s been a while since a mainstream comedy centered on an unmarried couple.
“That was a huge part of what made me interested in the pilot,” McCarthy says. “I like real characters with flaws.”
The show mentions Molly’s weight numerous times, and countless articles have been written about how “Mike & Molly” cast heavy-set actors. It bothers McCarthy “not because it hurts my feelings, but because, isn’t this getting boring? People love to grab something and sensationalize it, and you can’t sensationalize good writing,” she says.
McCarthy sees “Mike & Molly” as a love story at heart — one that allows eccentricities (though not to the extent of her wackadoodle “Bridesmaids” character). In one episode, Molly’s mom slips her codine-laced cough medicine before a date; to counter the effects, Molly’s sister gives her pep pills.
“It’s not often you see a female character lose it without being, well, bitchy,” McCarthy says. “It was like, ‘Let’s roll the cameras and see what happens.’ ”
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