Television Review: 'Mom'
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014 00:01
Anna Faris is pretty great at what she does: playing the stereotypical airhead, who has her fair share of issues but is lovable despite it all. “Mom,” CBS’s new comedy that runs Mondays at 9:30 p.m., casts Faris in her typical role. In the show, created by Chuck Lorre, the mind behind “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory,” Faris plays Christy, a mother of two children who attempts to manage her alcoholism as she deals with the daily struggles of single motherhood. The role isn’t very imaginative, and the script is predictable, but Christy is irresistible all the same.
However, it is the rest of the ensemble that leaves something to be desired. Christy’s mother Bonnie (Allison Janney) — one of the biggest sources of anxiety in her daughter’s life — is funny, but mostly disturbing. Christy’s children Violet (Sadie Calvano) and Roscoe (Blake Garrett Rosenthal) are flat, one-dimensional and frankly boring. While the cast of “Mom” offers moments that can make you laugh out loud, there are far more where you cringe or shudder violently at the foreseeable innuendos and lewd humor.
To be fair to the cast, it doesn’t seem like they have a lot to work with. There are so many asides and allusions to the bedroom that the show basically loses any of the comedic potential it may have originally had. This would be fun if the show had some substance, but it doesn’t. There are no relationships between characters that are interesting to watch or that demonstrate character development. There are no plot lines outside the frustrations of being a mother, being a daughter or being a waitress. At the end of an episode, viewers are left to wonder why they wasted their time.
Since the show is helmed by Lorre, that may explain the fascination with lewd humor, but it lacks some of the humor that his other projects had. In their beginnings, both “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” were comedic due to the nature of the set-up: two brothers who have almost nothing in common living in the same house or a group of geniuses and assorted friends who try to use their superior intellectual powers to deal with simple, everyday situations. There is situational comedy in these shows — moments when you really hope the characters figure it out before it’s too late. There are no such feelings associated with “Mom.” Just when you think something new might have happened, a character brushes the moment off with a shrug and a clueless look. To be honest, watching a show and rarely identifying or feeling for the characters is unusual and disappointing. I genuinely don’t care if Christy’s mother is able to work things out with her latest flame — and it doesn’t seem like she does either.
Nominated for a People’s Choice Award in the category of Best New T.V. Comedy, “Mom” lost to “Super Fun Night,” which stars Rebel Wilson. The only surprise here is that “Mom” received a nomination at all.
There are redeeming qualities in “Mom.” First, Faris is bubbly, charming and inept — the perfect main character in an ensemble comedy that centers on family and workplace drama. Second, the parts of the show that are set in the restaurant are actually quite funny as Christy must deal with frustrating customers and infuriating coworkers, including a sex-addicted boss who smokes marijuana while on the job. This sex-addicted boss, Chef Rudy (French Stewart), is reminiscent of Sheldon in “The Big Bang Theory” because of his ability to simultaneously be horrible and the best character on the show.
For fans of “Two and a Half Men” (in its later days) and “Two Broke Girls,” “Mom” will be a smash hit. If you’re looking for a somewhat fun show to watch when you have a few minutes to spare or time to kill, this is it. Otherwise, keep channel-surfing.