Mom: Initial impressions

Christy, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, juggles being both a waitress and a single mother while dealing with her pregnant teenage daughter Violet and her mother Bonnie, also a recovering addict.

Dodging mother’s footsteps

Mom launched in the US with fairly modest audience numbers but has been steadily picking up viewers with a strong run of episodes either side of Christmas. In the UK we have seen only the first two episodes so far, but it’s easy to see why audiences have engaged with the show.

Allison Janney (left) and Anna Faris star as mother and daughter in Mom (Image: CBS)

Allison Janney (left) and Anna Faris star as mother and daughter in Mom (Image: CBS)

Leads Anna Faris (Christy) and Allison Janney (Bonnie) provide a strong core, with both possessing the ability to deliver dialogue with impeccable comic timing. But behind the comedy there’s genuine pathos to their strained mother-daughter relationship, with Christy determined not to continue making the same mistakes her mother made: teen pregnancy, addiction and bad choices in men. That dynamic is redoubled in the second episode when Christy’s teenage daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano) discovers she is pregnant by her airhead boyfriend Luke (Spencer Daniels).

The male characters have so far played more of a secondary role, but there’s plenty of potential here too. At work Christy is dating the married Gabriel (Studio 60‘s Nate Corddry) and has to deal with the divaish chef Rudy (3rd Rock from the Sun‘s French Stewart). And her home life is complicated by the presence of her loser of an ex-husband Baxter (Matt Jones) and their young son Roscoe (Blake Garrett Rosenthal). Overall it’s a strong ensemble and one which seems to have bedded in quickly, giving everyone enough to do to establish their key character traits.

Most of the humour is observational, razor-sharp and absolutely spot-on – although I could live without the intrusive laughter track – and treads the fine line of mining the characters’ flaws for laughs without making them unlikable or unsympathetic. My favourite exchange so far:

Christy: Mom, I’ve watched you lick cocaine crumbs out of a shag carpet.

Bonnie: It’s not a sin to be thrifty, dear.

A lot of credit has to go to Faris and Janney, both strong actresses who spark off each other well in quickly establishing a pair of characters who are three-dimensional and relatable.

Mom is more than a little reminiscent of Mike & Molly and Roseanne, shows on which creator Chuck Lorre has served as executive producer. That’s a pretty decent set of stablemates to serve as benchmarks, and judging from its opening pair of episodes Mom is off to a promising start.

Rating: 8/10

Mom is on ITV2 on Mondays at 9pm.

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