A series that deals with a mother and daughter who are recovering from more addictions and problems than you’d find in a basic cable series. This probably sounds like the last kind of setting you’d expect for a network comedy. And yet what makes ‘Mom’ continues to flourish, in its third season is that it realizes the seriousness of the situation well enough that its not all about laughs.
The season premiere involved Christy (Anna Faris, who gets better with every new episode) learning that her grandmother wanted to make contact with her and Bonnie after being out of their lives for thirty years. Bonnie (Allison Janney) demonstrated a considerable more amount of hostility towards the idea than her daughter, which was understandable, considering that as a result she grew up in foster care. Both made an effort to make contact with the woman (Ellen Burstyn) and realized that the level of difficulties that both had in their lives had less to do with the woman who gave birth to them – and they also learned that she was dying. In a more traditional comedy, Bonnie would’ve reached out and tried to make peace with her. That wouldn’t have been true to the characters , and the writers clearly know that.
Last night’s episode dealt with two competing storylines – an AA meeting (only on this series would this be a source of some of the most comic moments of the show) where Bonnie, Christy and their friends met a young drug addict struggling to get away from her dealing boyfriend. Bonnie and Christy took her in for a night (and very carefully made sure that everything worth stealing was out of her reach), but it seemed to be a failure when she did run away in the middle of the night. Then in rapid succession, Bonnie lost her managerial job at the restaurant where she worked and had to go back to waitressing, and learned that her son, who she shares joint custody with his father, would rather spend more time with his more affluent parent. Suddenly, Christy realized that just because she was sober didn’t mean that all of her problems had gone away. Yet the ending allowed for a moment of light, when the junkie reappeared at the meeting and said she was determined to get clean. Christy’s last line was “I don’t have any more problems.”
Mom remains one of the more entertaining series on television, mainly because it has more funny roles for women than some entire networks do. In addition to the two leads, who remain dazzling, the series also has lead roles for Mary Kay Place, Jaime Pressley and Octavia Spencer, all addicts who have had their own series of problems and who come from various classes of life, showing that drinking and drug know no boundaries far more humorously than ‘The Wire’ did. It also shows that comediennes are just as willing to humiliate themselves as males, and that they can make the act as poigniant as it is funny. It’s got a tough timeslot and its still not an easy sell, but there is little question that this is one of the funniest shows on network TV.
Rating: 4.25 stars.