“Mom” is the new Chuck Lorre comedy, starring Anna Faris and Alison Janney. The show focuses on Christie (Faris), a single mother of two and recovering alcoholic, as she tries to help her teenage daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano) avoid taking the same path she did . . . one she was introduced to by her own mother, Bonnie (Janney). It all becomes that much harder when Bonnie comes back into her daughter’s life, much to the displeasure of Christie.
Three episodes in, and “Mom” has had its ups and downs. It is a show with lots of potential and gems here and there, but the episodes seem to be lacking a coherent structure.
Good characters with little to do
“Mom”‘s humour rests almost entirely on its great ensemble of characters. Faris is wonderful as Christie and her line delivery can often make the jokes so much better than they are on their own. Janney is the same way, and it’s hard not to love her character, Bonnie, as the reckless mother trying to reconcile her relationship with her daughter and granddaughter. Even the younger actors, portraying Christie’s children and Violet’s boyfriend Luke, are not bad at all. Violet as the angry teenager is great, especially when you contrast her relationship with the rest of the cast; basically, the only one who has to suffer from her teenager moodswings is really Christie. This fits into the theme of daughters angry with their mothers and reveals the hypocrisy in each character, something which could be explored in future episodes, with plenty of opportunity for comedy.
The biggest problem is that the episodes don’t seem to have a clear structure. While the over-arching theme of a dysfunctional family trying to put things together is evident, there’s not much else. The episodes lack a sense of direction; it feels more like you’re watching really funny scenes and clips from a movie. The pilot starts with a confusing scene where Christie is having a meltdown, but you almost feel as though you missed a whole chunk of the episode. This general feeling of confusion is something that happens frequently; “Mom” needs to figure out its story per episode and tell it in a way that actually makes sense.
One good thing about “Mom” is that the show has managed to avoid dragging the ‘Angry Daughter won’t talk to her Mom’ plotline too long. I suspected -and dreaded- having to watch episode upon episode of Christie refusing to let Bonnie into her life and trying to keep her away from her children. That plotline is completely exhausted and dealt with in the pilot, and the rest of the season seems to focus more on Christie’s struggles with accepting Bonnie, but at least she’s trying. This is a much more realistic way of portraying the relationship, and it also allows for so much more humour and comedy. The scenes featuring Christie and Bonnie are often gold. Those scenes, however, are also often held back from us, and instead we get Christie and everyone else for half of the episode, with Bonnie with the other half of the cast for a bit, and one or two moments with the two of them together.
Overall, “Mom” is an interesting sitcom. It’s humour and soul rest almost entirely on the cast but it would benefit greatly from more structure and cohesion. Anna Faris and Alison Janney are golden in their respective roles, and they are complimented with a great cast. Perhaps with a little more focus, “Mom” might not be a lost cause after all.