Warning: Spoilers follow for the current and past seasons of Mom.
It remains a mystery to me how Mom continues to be a splendid show, considering that it’s on CBS and created by Chuck Lorre. However, there are now three seasons of evidence that the show isn’t a fluke, and that it’ll maintain its quality going forward. The show’s weird mixture of comedy and drama is just about perfect, as opposed to heavy-handed.
The strong foundation of the show is obviously the lead performances by Anna Faris and Allison Janney as recovering addicts Christy (daughter) and Bonnie (mother) Plunkett. Unlikely a conventional sitcom though, they fail regularly. In the show’s three seasons, they both relapse, and there aren’t many Convenient Magical Plot Solutions that solve things for them.
The third season actually ends on a bit of a high note, as Christy wins a scholarship to help pay for her college costs, and Bonnie managed to contribute to that fund as well by serving as a middle(wo)man to unload a bunch of junk goods from a friend. However, the show basically had to, since previous episodes featured the overdose death of an AA member Christy was sponsoring, and the dissolution of the engagement of Violet – Christy’s daughter and Bonnie’s granddaughter.
As I’m typing out some of the plot points of Mom, yes, I realize it sounds horribly maudlin. But all of the somberness is well-balanced with humor, thanks to Faris and Janney. Faris was typecast as the ditzy blonde gal in most of her early roles, but she shows some range of emotion and good timing in Mom. As far as Janney goes, hell, she’s got seven Emmy wins, included two for Mom already and four thanks to The West Wing. She’s ridiculously talented in this show.
Of the supporting cast, Sadie Calvano (Violet) is a strong performer, although her role has been downgraded from regular to recurring as she’s now in college (the actor, not her character). With the three generations of the Plunkett women, you get a look at how the substance abuse persists via social and biological means. Jaime Pressly (with a bad haircut) is the most well-known of the other regulars, but they’re all solid character actors.
I’m not alone in my embracing of Mom, as the A.V. Club has also given it some strong reviews. If you can look past the fact that it does have Chuck Lorre’s name and hence stink on it, it’s probably the best half-hour sitcom on television right now. (By the way, RIP The Grinder. SIGH. At least Mom has already been renewed for a new season.)