Stars: Anna Farris, Allison Janney, Nate Corddry, Matt Jones, Sadie Calvano, Spencer Daniels, French Stewart
Writers: Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky, Gemma Baker
Director: Pamela Fryman
Network: CBS, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: September 23, 2013
Painfully unfunny and at times uncomfortable to watch, MOM is one of the most depressing half hour comedies debuting this fall. It comes with a rich pedigree – co-creator Chuck Lorre is the mastermind behind TWO AND A HALF MEN and current mega-hit THE BIG BANG THEORY, great comedienne Anna Farris toplines her first regular TV gig and Allison Janney is excellent as her comedic mother figure foil.
The show though is dark – very dark and the comedy struggles to come from these dark places but doesn’t master the balance very well. All the characters are damaged, unlikable, lost souls. They’re not perfect, which is the plus out of all of this, because there is room to grow and to find shades of grey. Yet, the big fear is the show will just devolve into a series of risqué punch lines instead of really finding a way to push the boundaries of television sitcoms into new territory.
The story focuses on Christy (Farris), a divorced mom of two who is struggling with sobriety and the damage caused by her alcoholic, absentee mother Bonnie (Janney). Trying not repeat the same mistakes her mom made with her has but a strain on her relationship with her own teenage daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano). She’s also involved with her likable boss Gabriel (Nate Corddry) even though he’s married.
See, who do you root for?
Certainly, you want to root for Christy who is played to perfection by Farris. Yet, the pilot script by Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker makes her a crying, unsympathetic, complaining martyr. Farris is so much better than this, and at times does rise above the thinly sketched caricature she’s forced to portray. Yet, for the show to evolve, there needs to be more here. She needs to be even more likable. She can be flawed, but she shouldn’t be unlikable to the point where she’s sleeping with her married boss. It’s just a little too much. Give us something that makes you want to root for her and love her. Right now, she’s a wreck, and a wreck doesn’t make for sitcom longevity.
Janney is a good match for Farris, and as their relationship develops on screen and off, it should provide even more chemistry moving forward.
Still tonally, MOM is a bit of a mixed bag. All the elements are here for a hit show. It just needs to find a way to balance everything in a better way that doesn’t feel disjointed, as the pilot does on many occasions. The biggest laughs on the show, strangely come from supporting characters including French Stewart as Chef Rudy, Reggie De Leon as Paul and Blake Garrett Rosenthal as Christy’s young son Roscoe.
So while it’s a pass on this “Pilot” episode, I suspect MOM will get bigger and more popular as it finds its voice, but for now, just like it’s protagonist, it’s seriously flawed with great room for improvement.
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Article: TV Review: MOM – Season 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere