I can stomach another dismal sitcom being set in Chicago. Having endured Perfect Strangers, According to Jim, Punky Brewster, Chicago Sons, Family Matters, Married With Children and other painful drivel over the decades, I can hardly get my feathers ruffled over CBS’s new Mike & Molly, a mediocre entry about two plus-size Chicagoans (Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy) who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Aside from the most obvious thorn in our side—a show about fat people? Let’s set it in corn-fed Chicago!—what really irks me are the city-specific details that are not only cringeworthy but downright inaccurate. Chicago geek that I am, I couldn’t resist poring over the pilot’s multiple missteps. At least the Urlacher replica jersey worn by a waiter in one scene bears the number 54.
The scene Molly, a Chicago schoolteacher, persuades Mike, a Chicago cop, to talk to her fourth-grade class at Wrigley Elementary School about his job.
Reality check Hollywood loves to hit its viewers over the head with overly simplistic cues (we’re surprised it wasn’t called Deep Dish Elementary School), but unfortunately there’s no Wrigley Elementary School in Chicago. Aside from once-owning the Chicago Cubs, the chewing-gum clan has historically been much more interested in the taming of Catalina Island off the coast of L.A. and Arabian horses than transforming Chicago Public Schools.
The scene Mike fields questions from Molly’s class about his job. A majority of the students are white.
Reality check Possible, but statistically unlikely. On September 30 of each year, the Chicago Public School system compiles the Racial/Ethnic Survey to determine the ethnic breakdown of the city’s students. The 2009 survey indicates that whites make up only 9.2 percent of the population while African-Americans weigh in at 45.1 percent and Latinos a close second at 41.9 percent. Molly’s classroom needs more diversity.
The scene In an attempt to find Molly some lovin’, her mom (played by Swoosie Kurtz, who needs to fire her agent) tells Molly’s sister, “Why don’t you take her to one of those lezbo clubs, they seem to like the beefy gals.”
Reality check There are no full-time lesbian bars or clubs in Chicago. The recent closing of Star Gaze put an end to the city’s only taproom devoted to women. Lesbian-owned spaces including Joie de Vine, Parlour and the Closet cater to mixed crowds.
The scene Mike and his partner Carl (Reno Wilson) respond to a burglary at 9425 Cicero Avenue, which happens to be where Molly lives with her mother and sister.
Reality check Molly is supposed to be a Chicagoan, but the 9400 block of Cicero Avenue isn’t within city limits, but rather suburban Oak Lawn. This also means it would be off the beat of a Chicago cop. Not only that, but you’re not going to find any bungalows in the 9400 block of Cicero Avenue—unless they want to rub shoulders with the Hilton Oak Lawn and Del Taco.
The scene Mike, a fish enthusiast, finally lands a date with Molly and treats her to a schmancy meal at the local aquarium (i.e. the Shedd), where they nosh and swill pinot up against a glass tank filled with colorful, googly-eyed sea creatures.
Reality check There’s no fine-dining restaurant at the Shedd nor is there any tank-side noshing for that matter. Aside from the bi-monthly and upscale Bite Right dinner series that happens at partner restaurants, Shedd options include children-friendly spots like food court Bubble Net, Soundings Café and Deep Ocean Café.
Mikes and Molly premieres Monday 20 on CBS.