Mike and Molly Season 4 premieres at 9pm Monday, Nov. 4, on CBS.
When it debuted in 2010, the buzz on Mike & Molly was that it had the audacity to treat overweight people as — gasp! — regular people, and make them the focus of the show as opposed to just the usual buffoonish sidekicks. It’s not that Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) and Molly Flynn (Melissa McBride) were the first overweight couple on TV (remember Dan and Roseanne?), but there hadn’t been many shows that made their weight so central to the plot. The lovable cop and loving schoolteacher actually met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, after all. But as Mike and Molly Season 4 gets set to premiere, the focus has thankfully shifted away from the couples’ waistlines to their storylines.
Gardell offers some tasty tidbits on what we can expect, and says we don’t need to worry about the ads touting “The New” Mike & Molly meaning that the show is suddenly going to be unrecognizable.
Channel Guide Magazine: What can you tell us about Mike and Molly Season 4?
Billy Gardell: Very excited about this season. We are eight episodes in, and I think it’s some of the best work we’ve done yet. We got a little bit of a new direction. Molly’s going to have … a midlife meltdown and try to figure out whether she wants to be a teacher or what she wants to do, and she’s going to quit her job. Mike is going to have to walk that line between, “I want you to be happy and, ‘You need to get a job.’” It’s going to be great.
CGM: The ads have been calling it “The New Mike & Molly.” Is there any worry that you’re messing with a good thing?
BG: No, I don’t think so, because it’s still the same group of loonies surrounding us, and at the middle of the story it’s always Mike and Molly trying to survive and get each other through it, which is what I think people watch our show for.
CGM: What moments have stood out to you so far about Mike and Molly Season 4?
BG: There’s two that have really stood out to me. One is [when] Molly decides she wants to be a writer, and she’s trying to write a crime novel so she gets in the cop car to do a ridealong with me and Carl. I think that’s a great episode, and we also shot one where Susan Sarandon guest stars as a famous author that Molly stalks. I think that one’s fantastic, and we just finished shooting one actually this week that’s going to be really great. It’s Mike and Molly’s excellent adventure, where Molly gets an article published and decides to take Mike out and she kind of gets him into a Ferris Bueller situation. Mike is like Groundhog Day, he doesn’t want anything to change. So it’s been really wonderful stuff this year.
CGM: You’ve done a lot of different projects over the years, but at four years, this has been your longest. How is it to be in the same job with the same character for that long?
BG: Thank God! I love it, man. I find a little something new to do with him every week. I get more grounded into him the more we go, and now it’s actually in Season 4 getting to the point where when you see a line, you go, “OK, Mike would say it that way.” It’s been a neat evolution process to be a part of instead of just guest-starring on one thing. You’re just so comfortable in those characters that you find new ways to be funny. You find new spontaneity in your acting because you’re so comfortable being that person.
CGM: A lot of the attention for the show at first was about having two bigger people be the stars. Do you feel a lot of that has subsided now?
BG: Yeah, I think [audiences] have found them to just be two good people, and once you have good people it attracts good people to watch it.
CGM: You also are still doing a lot of standup. Have you been tempted to put that away and just focus on acting?
BG: No, I mean you’ve got to make hay when the sun is shining, man. Can’t complain the fact that there’s great gigs out there now, so whenever I get some off time I try to do those, because you never know. Everybody’s window stays open a different amount of time, so I do my best with what I got.
CGM: Melissa has obviously become a huge star since the show started. So we can just assume she’s a total diva now, right?
BG: (laughs) I kind of think our cast is a disappointment that way, we all really like each other. We’re a good group, we’re a grounded group and we’re a very close group, so we really root for each other. So there’s none of that.