By Brendon McCullin, Hollywood Staff
If you're one of the viewers that routinely switches off CBS as soon as Mike and Molly ends, well, shame on you: you're missing out on Mom. The freshman sitcom starring Anna Faris as a recovering alcoholic single mom who moves in with her also recovering mother, played by Allison Janney, holds enough of the audience on CBS' Monday night lineup that it will probably earn a second season, but that's not good enough. The show deserves more.
Faris has had an up-and-down career in the movies, but her emotional vulnerability and comedic timing has found a home on the sitcom. Her Christy, a waitress and AA regular, is hopeful and easy to root for as portrayed by the doe-eyed actress. Having a character that the audience can root for isn't always a given on a Chuck Lorre show, nor is having fully formed female characters... as anyone that's watched Melissa McCarthy descend into caricature on Mike and Molly can attest.
Janney, who's proven her chops in everything from The West Wing to Juno, provides even more incentive to watch. She infuses her Bonnie with a seen-it-all outlook that works perfectly for a character that's not as enamored of the sober lifestyle as her daughter is. More than that, Janney plays Bonnie as a real person, even when the writing is broad. She doesn't work too hard for the laughs, but instead lets them come naturally, which helps temper the over-the-top elements that are a Lorre hallmark.
The show has also featured an enviable group of guest stars, starting with Kevin Pollak as Christy's long-absent father. The veteran comedian was the perfect choice to play off of the two leading ladies as a mensch who's trying to make things right. Justin Long, Mimi Kennedy, and Octavia Spencer have also put in appearances.
The show isn't perfect; the writers have yet to find a good rhythm for Christy's daughter, played by Saddie Calvano, and her boyfriend (Spencer Daniels). Additionally, Matt Jones and French Stewart, who play Christy's ex and boss respectively, seem like they might be more at home on Lorre's Two and a Half Men. While not everything might have jelled quite yet, the performances by the leads rises above any of the first year quibbles.
It's hard to play addiction recovery for both laughs and empathy, but Faris and Janney are doing a brilliant job of exactly that. Their efforts deserve to be rewarded with viewers that seek the show out as opposed to ones that just forget to change the channel after Mike and Molly.
Show Mom some love and you won't be disappointed.