Gabriel Iglesias & Ryan McPartlin Join Demi Lovato's Eating Disorder Comedy Pilot, Hungry

An upcoming comedy series centered around a food issues group continues to fill out its cast. Deadline reports that the new show "Hungry" has added comedian Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias and "Chuck" actor Ryan McPartlin to its cast. Demi Lovato is set to star.

If the phrase "eating disorder comedy pilot" immediately rubs you the wrong way, you're not alone. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time TV has attempted to tackle this tough topic from a comedic perspective. Another sitcom about disordered eating, the 2005 FX show "Starved," was extremely controversial at the time. The series gravitated around a shame-based "support" group called Belt Tighteners. Unsurprisingly, "Starved" only aired for one season.

A tough topic, but a promising team

Based on what we know, "Hungry" sounds like it's already on a better and more thoughtful track than past attempts to take on the subject. For one thing, Lovato, an eating disorder survivor themselves, is executive producing the series, which is also exec produced by writer Suzanne Martin. For another, the series' official description makes "Hungry" sound like it's coming from a more positive place than prior food issues shows. Deadline says the series is about "a group of friends who belong to a food issues group helping one another as they look for love, success and the perfect thing in the fridge that's going to make it all better."

While we can't know whether or not "Hungry" can pull off its tricky topic with sensitivity until we see it, the show's character descriptions also seem promising. Lovato will star as Teddy, a food stylist who longs for a healthier relationship with both food and men. Valerie Bertinelli will play Teddy's mom, a restaurant owner who, despite her warmth towards others, has dealt with weight fluctuations and self-criticism issues for years.

Stand-up comedian Iglesias plays "a big-hearted big guy who's the life of the party," while McPartlin is the food issues support group leader. Previous casting news from Deadline indicates that YouTube creator and actress Anna Akana will play a trophy wife, while Tony-nominee Alex Brightman plays an LAPD officer whose job is to talk people down from ledges (literally). Ashley D. Kelley ("Insatiable"), Jay Klaitz ("Vinyl") and Rory O'Malley ("Partners") are also on board to star as members of the group.

As wary as I am of seeing a topic as delicate and nuanced as this one depicted on screen in a comedy, I think it is possible for it to be done in a way that's more helpful than harmful to viewers. Another point towards its success: "Hungry" has tapped sitcom pilot go-to James Burrows, who co-created "Cheers," to direct the first episode.

"Hungry" does not yet have a set release date.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).