What do Mike & Molly and This Is Us have in common?
Yes, there's the obvious fact that both shows feature a plus-size couple who met at Overeaters Anonymous. But there's a lot more to the story.
Billy Gardell, who played Mike Biggs on the CBS sitcom, talked to People about Mike & Molly and what made it so successful. He sees similarities between his show and This Is Us — but not just because they're about plus-size folk.
"I just think it was two interesting people that happen to have that type," Gardell told People of Mike & Molly's lead characters. "I don't think it was anything more than that. People make more of it than it needs to be."
The actor went on to explain that while the Overeaters Anonymous connection is there, it's not what kept his show going. And it's not why people tune into This Is Us each week, either.
"Mike and Molly, yes, that's where they met, and they happen to be a couple people that were plus-size," Gardell said of the Overeaters Anonymous backstory on Mike & Molly. "But the story, the reason that show worked was, it was about two people that never thought they were gonna fall in love finding love. And that's why that show worked. And that's, I think, why the elements work for This Is Us."
The quest to lose weight is a part of both Mike and Molly and Kate and Toby's relationships. But weight isn't the only thing that defines any of these characters. The first time we met Toby (Chris Sullivan), for example, was at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, where he connected with Kate (Chrissy Metz) over his borderline-inappropriate jokes about another person's potential surgery.
Since that meeting, though, we've learned a lot more about Kate and Toby than just their eating habits. Kate used to love singing when she was a child; Toby's still dealing with some effects of his divorce. Although we'd still like to see Kate and Toby in more storylines that aren't related to health or weight, it's not what defines them or their relationship. And the same was true of Mike & Molly, too.
Yes, it's great that TV shows are featuring more body diversity now than ever before. But that doesn't mean we need to compare two very different shows, just because they both involve Overeaters Anonymous, a program that serves thousands of people. Gardell had the perfect answer when asked about the comparison — hopefully, we can all follow his lead and stop equating the two shows.