‘Mom’ disappoints with average plotPosted on September 23, 2013 | by Connor Wright
Anna Faris is a likable actress. With films like “The House Bunny” and “Smiley Face,” she has often proved to be the funniest part of not-so-funny movies. She is one of the many talented actresses who has been under-served by her work and, if given the right material, could have been part of the entertainment industry’s great actresses.
The concept of Faris heading her very own series, playing a single mother and recovering alcoholic who is trying to reconnect with her own neglectful mother (Allison Janney), is an exciting prospect. But the realization that the show was created by Chuck Lorre — of “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” fame — definitely lessens the anticipation.
Not to knock on those shows, as they have their moments of greatness. But “Mom” suffers from a serious case of cut-and-paste laziness. Faris, who plays scattered single mom, Kristy, cringes and contorts her face through jokey, laugh-tracked dialogue that reads like it was ripped from rejected “Two And A Half Men” scripts. Kristy’s house even bares an uncanny resemblance to the home of Charlie Sheen’s character on “Two and a Half Men.”
It is forgivable for a new show that’s playing around with different concepts to have moments that are not funny. The problem is that each of the characters fills the exact cliché one would expect. Matt Jones plays Faris’ stoner ex-husband, a miscast Janney plays Faris’ boozy mother, and Sadie Calvano does her best aloof teenager impression as Faris’ promiscuous daughter.
Granted, much of this is an attempt to be edgy and test the show’s boundaries at an early stage. But where other shows have made the same mistakes, interesting stories are there for it to fall back on. Nothing really happens in the first episode of “Mom,” aside from a few character introductions and a tired conflict between Faris’ character and her daughter. It all seems too neat and tidy, especially considering subject matter centered on teenage pregnancy and drug abuse.
Judging a sitcom by its pilot is always a challenge, as it takes a while for the writers to fall in step with the actors’ talents. But in an age where television is crammed with original content, a show can’t afford to be just average anymore. That’s what makes “Mom” feel so unnecessary. Lorre seems content with abusing the talent of household names. Cue laugh track. Rinse, repeat.
Faris is still a great comedian. She and Janney could have some chemistry as the show develops, and it’s possible that “Mom” has a unique point of view buried beneath all of the cliché characters and alcoholism jokes. And other shows have had worse episodes. But, while it may not be time to give up on “Mom” just yet, this first episode doesn’t make a hard sell for the rest of the series. Hopefully, it can only go uphill from here.
Connor Wright is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.