Does This Count As Progress In The Portrayal Of Overweight On TV?

In the wake of cringe-worthy TV shows like More To Love, Dance Your Ass Off and the Biggest Loser, are the new weight-oriented series — Huge and Mike and Molly — a step in the right direction?

Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times says yes:

…Television has discovered, or remembered, that fat people are human after all, with a panoply of dreams, desires, foibles and stories that often have nothing to do with their weight.
Just like all those crazy-thin people we've been watching for years.

Still, every show needs a hook, and for Huge and Mike and Molly, "fat" is the gimmick. McNamara points out that Huge, despite being set at a weight-loss camp, "is essentially a teen drama." Mike and Molly seems like a regular realationship-oriented sitcom — only the couple "meet cute" at Overeaters Anonymous.

While it's great to have non-skinny women on TV (once only the realm of non-skinny dudes like Kevin James and Hurley and so on), it's still strange that these shows can't have a chubby or plus-size lead character without making a big deal about it. Why couldn't Mike and Molly meet at the gas station? Or a wine-tasting event? Or Comic-Con?

Still: Huge is pretty good. And judging From the preview, Mike and Molly looks cute. So better to have some body diversity on TV than, as McNamara quips, "stars like Courteney Cox scripted to occasionally glance in the mirror and wonder if their butts look fat." Why? In McNamara's words:

Overweight is just one part of who these people are, losing weight just one of the things they would like to experience in their lives.

Which makes these dramas closer to real than any reality show around.

TV Finally Gets Weight In Focus [LA Times]