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The creator of CBS’ new hit comedy Mike & Molly fired back at a Marie Clarie blog post that criticized his show for starring “gross” fat people.
The women’s magazine is facing an online firestorm about a post titled “Should Fatties Get a Room (Even on TV)?” where freelancer Maura Kelly wrote she was disgusted watching an overweight couple on the show.
“Yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other,” she wrote “… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroin addict slumping in a chair.”
Other viewers don’t seem to mind. Mike & Molly is the second-highest-rated comedy in CBS’ Monday lineup, after Two and Half Men, and has been ticking upward in the ratings in recent weeks.
Below, creator Mark Roberts, who has struggled with weight issues himself, responds to the controversy.
THR: What was your reaction to this post?
Roberts: The woman apologized at the end of it. Clearly, she realized she said some pretty hateful things. My initial reaction is she’s talking about [Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy] and I love them; I feel protective and angry about people being loose-lipped. I guess hateful is the only way to describe [the post].
THR: She says the leads “appear to be morbidly obese.” Do you agree with that description?
Roberts: I don’t know. I don’t think of anybody by their body type, certainly not people that I work with and love and respect. I think of them as unbelievably talented people who captured these characters and brought them to life. I struggled with weight all my life, and I don’t know how to address this without being angry with somebody else’s stupidity about other human beings.
THR: If this is her honest reaction to the show, is it wrong for her to express it?
Roberts: You know, everybody is welcome to their opinion, and clearly she can express her opinion, and thousands can express theirs about hers. I would never tell anybody to express how they feel about something. If you don’t like the show’s writing or acting, OK. This was just about human beings. It’s her face she has to look at in the mirror. I don’t mean that to sound hateful.
THR: She also accused the show of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.
Roberts: I hate when people stand in judgment over anybody. We all have our own struggles. There’s something wonderful about embracing everybody; it’s what makes us human. And it’s what people are responding to in this show. I don’t see these people size-wise, they’re just so lovable to me.
THR: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this?
Roberts: The shocking thing is we live in a society where this was an issue. Jackie Gleason would never get on TV now because he’s a large man who drank on TV. We’ve taken steps backward under the guise of what’s healthy. Almost everybody I know struggles with something — whether it’s their weight or alcohol or temper. To stand in judgment of somebody — especially when you’re breaking it down to just the aesthetic. It just makes me sad … wow that makes me sound much more upset than I really am. But I am un-friending that woman on Facebook.
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