Last month, a blogger for MarieClaire.com expressed disgust over seeing two “downright obese” people making out on Mike & Molly, a CBS sitcom about two downright obese people named Mike and Molly. This generated a minor media storm of controversy and millions of site hits for a presumably paid blogger who can’t write. To wit:
“I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over … [But] the boob tube gives us an excuse to turn off both our brains and our bodies and probably does a helluva lot to contribute to the obesity problem, over all. So ... I don’t know.”
Obviously, this blog was a plant by CBS to 1. Drum up sympathetic publicity for a moderately successful Monday night sitcom, and 2. Distract from an ongoing investigation by The Only TV Column That Matters™ that could bring the CBS Corporation to its chubby knees. Get ready …
Mike & Molly is actually a leftover sitcom from UPN, circa 1998.
History: The United Paramount Network was launched as a sixth U.S. broadcast net in 1995; Paramount was owned by Viacom, which is known these days as the CBS Corporation, which of course owns and programs CBS. In 2006, UPN was shut down and merged with The WB to form The CW—jointly owned by CBS and Warner Bros., not City Weekly.
During its 11 years in “business,” UPN aired nearly 100 programs that were seen by no one—in some cases, literally no one. These shows included such short-lived comic gems as The Mullets, Homeboys in Outer Space, Shasta McNasty and, in the fall of 1998, a tubbies-in-love sitcom called Mike & Molly.
“Given the short attention span of the American public, coupled with the extremely low viewership of UPN and the amount of time that has passed, it’s entirely possible that a television network could re-air a decade-old propriety program as a completely new offering unnoticed,” says Professor Desmond Pfeiffer, who teaches entertainment history at New York’s DiResta University. “In fact, with today’s economic climate and how much money CBS has invested in a finite prospect like Charlie Sheen [of Two & A Half Men, Mike & Molly’s lead-in], it’s quite brilliant.”
Prof. Pfeiffer points out a few giveaways that Mike & Molly may be the product of another era: “First of all, the premise of two overweight blue-collar people meeting and falling in love is straight out of Roseanne, which ended a year before you’re positing that Mike & Molly originally debuted. Of course, Roseanne was actually funny. The samples of Mike & Molly that I’ve studied indicate that it is, or was, written by a committee of unemployed food-service workers whose humor was severely impaired by weeks-long cocaine binges and regular unsanitary sexual encounters with homeless men in West Hollywood alleyways. This is just speculation on my part.
“And the fabricated laugh track—it’s louder than the punch lines, and even most of the commercials. This was a very ’90s sitcom tendency, to de-emphasize how clearly unfunny the jokes were by increasing the volume level, and frequency, of canned laughter that’s obviously been cut-and-pasted from an audience watching a much better show elsewhere. Even in less-sophisticated 1998, I can guarantee that no one would find Mike & Molly as hilarious as the audio would have you believe. Honestly, with the sheer ineptitude of the scripting and the painfully abominable—I hesitate to even call it this—acting, it’s almost as if CBS is daring someone to catch them in this alleged ruse. It’s brazen.”
Since the only documented history of UPN is a Wikipedia page that I suspect has been created (and redacted) by CBS, no concrete proof that Mike & Molly is a repurposed remnant from the ’90s exists. As for enlisting the help of fellow TV journalists who might recall the sitcom’s original airing, that may also be a dead end.
“No offense, but nobody listens to TV critics,” says Pfeiffer. “Even cokeheads servicing bums in alleyways off Wilshire have more credibility.”