I went into the series premiere of Mom with the lowest of low expectations. But I decided to tread on for my unquantifiable like for Anna Faris and Allison Janney. I just really want things to work out for them. And I don’t exactly know why, but I always walk away from a Faris project thinking she was better than the material she’s given. So perhaps it was my low expectations, but I didn’t think Mom was the worst thing I had ever seen. (That one goes to Dads.)
If I had to describe Mom in a sentence, it would probably be this: It’s like Two and a Half Men, but with likable characters. That’s really it. I suppose the characters themselves aren’t so likable (there are two generations of alcoholics and three of teen mothers), although the fact that Faris’ Christy is very self-aware does help. It’s more that the series’ leading ladies bring a certain je ne sais quais to their roles that doesn’t make me hate them. How Janney can bring an entitled, alcoholic grandmother who has her grandkids call her by first name to life and not make that person grating is beyond me. It’s material straight out of any Chuck Lorre sitcom: booze, drugs, and promiscuity, and yet, I don’t absolutely hate watching it. I don’t even hate the demanding restaurant chef. Or the guy(s) cheating on his wife.
It puzzled me, too.
The pilot for Mom also had (and accomplished) the huge task of giving everyone a story and loaded background: Christy wanted to be a psychologist but never graduated high school, her mom was an alcoholic and meth dealer who has now befriended her daughter, who is sexually active with her boyfriend of a year, but Christy hasn’t noticed because she’s only 100-something days sober, meanwhile her ex wants to reconnect with his son. It’s a lot to bear for a multicam, but I think Mom pulls it off. And it does it with a few quips and laughs along the way. Sure, they go for some of the cheap and obvious jokes. But if anyone can mug for the camera without making us go mad, it’s both Faris and Janney.
Even after all the schtick, I still bought the tender moments during the show. I think it will be interesting to follow this one, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.