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Monday 7 February 2011

This "fattie" couple "grossed out" a US journo. Her words. Read why here.

I love a bit of controversy - especially when the not-thought-through comments of some cause a whole lotta uproar. And healthy discussion. When the topic at the centre of the scandal is... a TV show? Well, that's my fave kinda debate.

This Wednesday February 9, the Nine Network will be screening the much-discussed US show Mike & Molly.

During the show's promos, I for one was delighted to see characters who did not, for once, resemble someone straight out of the Friends-mould. You know, looking very much like they needed a sandwich.

Good, I thought. Actors representing the body shape of a great deal of the Australian population. Then I heard about the 'furore' a US Marie Claire magazine blogger created when the show started screening in the US late last year.

Here's some of what the writer Maura Kelly had to say on her blog, posted on October 25, 2010.

"So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other…

"...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."

Are you kidding me? How rude is that?

She also called them "fatties", then proceeded to suggest that obesity wasn’t that hard to conquer, even adding she had some dieting tips she’d like to pass on to the masses, like she had to her "plump" friends.

Wow. Bold. Brave. Pretty arrogant.

As you can imagine, the masses united and gave Maura the finger.

Body image and eating disorder experts became concerned that Maura's words would trigger anxiety and self-loathing. And some "fat-acceptance activists" were planning “The Big Fat Kiss-In” in front of the Marie Claire offices.

Maura immediately attached an apology to her post, saying she never meant to offend or bully anyone and admitted that her own struggles with anorexia and body image may have made her project onto other people. (Her editor, Joanna Coles - who appeared in the show Running In Heels - was much less apologetic, saying only that Maura was a "provocative" blogger who was "moved" by the responses.). Who knows if anyone bought either apology.

Said Johanna Kandel (as reported in the American 'The Palm Beach Post'), executive director of the West Palm Beach-based Alliance For Eating Disorder Awareness and a recovered anorexic herself. “Where was the filter, editorially? I’ve lost too many people to eating disorders, too many people whose lives are completely destroyed. We need to watch these negative words, to step back and say, ‘How are people going to feel?’"

The article continues:

“This is a miniature of all of our culture’s attitudes toward fat people right now,” says San Francisco-based fat-pride activist Marilyn Wann, whose movement rejects the diet culture. The media is telling you “fatties don’t count,” she says. “They don’t get to be the hero. They don’t have to have sex. So maybe they’ll be grateful as the object of a joke.”

And then still:

"This show is not about people who represent the norm. This is about people who are obese," says Miami-based behavioural expert Patrick Wanis. "And that is not healthy. We are watching two people who are quite sick because their health is in danger. It would be better if one of the things they said was ‘We are in love with each other, but let’s both work on being physically healthy.’"

For blogger Julie Stein - who sent Maura Kelly a copy of her open letter - she was more than surprised when the writer personally responded:

"You’re right, Julie. Encouraging someone to lose weight is one thing, and insulting people is another. I feel really sad that I’ve hurt so many people, including you. I really do apologize."

To see what the fuss is about, tune into Mike & Molly this Wednesday. Over 12 million viewers in the USA have.

Coming from the creator of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, this new comedy
centres on two working-class people in Chicago who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell, My Name Is Earl) is a good-hearted cop who sincerely wants to lose weight. At an OA meeting Mike finds Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy, Gilmore Girls), a likeable teacher with a good sense of humour about her shape.

After Mike and Molly find each other in the most unexpected of places, they’re finding out where their quest for companionship will take them. I'll be tuning in for sure.

Mike & Molly premieres Wednesday February 9, at 8pm on Channel Nine.

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