On the episode that aired last Monday (Feb. 25) — “Molly’s New Shoes” — Mike’s mother, Peggy (Rondi Reed), was confronted with the idea of moving to Arizona. Her response was the source of the controversy. “Arizona? Why would I move to Arizona?” she asked. “It’s nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians.”
Apparently, no one at “Mike & Molly” or CBS thought this line was a problem, but Native American groups disagree. Erny Zah of the Navajo Nation (located in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico) made a statement to ABCNews.com: “It’s offensive, it’s derogatory, it’s deplorable. Ignorance is one thing, but this must have passed through a lot of eyes before it appeared on a network show.”
The Native American Journalists Association also made a statement about the joke: “This comment shows blatant disregard for the original inhabitants of this land and perpetuates antiquated stereotypes of Native Americans.”
In addition to the basic offensiveness of the joke, the issue of alcoholism is a serious one in Native American communities. Many reservations do not allow alcohol in an effort to combat the disease, but nearby towns and bootleggers continue to perpetuate the problem.
CBS and the show’s producer, Warner Bros., have not made a statement on the joke.