Melissa McCarthy, who stars in the CBS comedy Mike and Molly, is not the first woman to be told that she would never achieve career success if she didn’t lose weight. And, undoubtedly, she will not be the last.

But who could blame her if she took a little extra pride in her Emmy nomination in the category for leading actress in a comedy series? If she had slimmed down, she probably wouldn’t have had a chance to win the role in the romantic comedy about two Chicagoans who meet at a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous and fall in love.

Earlier this year, the 40-year-old McCarthy admitted to People magazine that it hurt her feelings when a manager told her she’d never work in Hollywood if she didn’t lose weight. “I understand that the odds are not as high as if I was skinny, but I still have talent,” she said in the March interview. “I thought, ‘I’ll show you!’”

And she certainly did. This year, in addition to earning the nomination, she was credited by some film critics with stealing the show in the comedy movie Bridesmaids, she and Joshua Jackson were chosen to announce the Emmy nominees, and she has been tapped to be a guest host of Saturday Night Live this fall.

But it hasn’t all been compliments and award nominations. McCarthy and her co-star, Billy Gardell, had to respond to some harsh criticism as Mike and Molly made its debut. Last fall, Maura Kelly wrote on a blog for the magazine Marie Claire:

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 — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

Kelly faced a backlash for her comments, and McCarthy said in the People interview: “It was so unkind. I thought, ‘Shame on you.’ At a different point in my life, it would’ve crushed me. But it didn’t.”

McCarthy, who has also had roles on Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who?, grew up in Plainfield, Ill., about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. She told Plainfield that weight issues were only one aspect of Mike and Molly:

I think its an element of the show but not the whole thing. When you show someone’s flaws, whether it be comedy or drama, it’s so much more interesting. In this case it’s our weight.

Do I wish myself and Molly didn’t have to deal with this? Of course, but it’s real and everyone can relate to it in some way. I have a size 2 friend that gets upset because she can’t fit into her jeans. So, fair enough. Whether it’s 10 pounds or 50, everyone wants to fit into their pants!

And that may be the key to success for McCarthy, a wife and mother of two. She doesn’t approach her characters as fat women. Instead, she plays women who happen to be fat. The difference comes across on the screen in a way that viewers, critics and awards committees can appreciate.


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  • hillsmom August 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Oh, she will always and forever be the epitome of “Sookie” on Gilmore Girls which was one of my all time favorites. Who gives a *%^*^ about Marie Clair…ugh! Live long and prosper Melissa. Many hugs to a fantastic actress…