Alison Janney and Anna Faris in Mom (Source: CBS)
Alison Janney and Anna Faris in Mom (Source: CBS)

Mom: Mondays at 9:30 Eastern Time on CBS

Last week, when I reviewed FOX’s abomination Dads, I mentioned how it jumped on part of a very common premise for sitcoms in the past year: adults and their parents living together under one roof due to the shaky economic time we’re in. We saw it with ABC in April when they debuted the flop How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life), This season we get even more of the trope with FOX’s Dads, and CBS, who has not one but two shows using the trope with The Millers,and tonight’s debut: Mom.

Mom, which comes from the same Chuck Lorre brain trust responsible for half of CBS’ comedy lineup features Anna Faris playing a single mother trying to stay afloat and care for her two kids. However, when her mother (Alison Janney) returns to her life, they immediately start butting heads. Along the way she must deal with her two kids, her hectic job, and her recovery from alcoholism. Needless to say, the show is a natural pair with current CBS’ sitcom 2 Broke Girls.

So, does this show fare any better than the other similar shows I mentioned? Well the handful of times I laughed over the course of the hour is already a handful of times more than I laughed watching Dads, (and How to Live) for that matter. Allison Janney in particular lights up the screen as Bonnie, playing the mother figure to Faris’ Christy and showing a soft touch that you typically don’t get out of a Lorre show. Faris’ does an equally serviceable job as Christy, who has to do some emotional heavy lifting as the shows first segment does not hesitate to pour gasoline on the fire of her unhappy life.

If there was a clear weakness to Mom, it’s that this episode (which admittedly is the pilot) tries to jam in way too many angles for it’s own good. Within 15 minutes we discover that Christy works as a waitress, she had at least one of her children in high school (ruining her ability to graduate and killing her hopes and dreams), her teenage daughter is sexually active, she’s sleeping with her boss, she’s in alcoholics anonymous, her kids truly hate her, that’s she’s actually the affair in that love triangle, and that it’s somehow all Bonnie’s fault. The show then struggles to revisit all of those angles over the back half of the show, creating a very overcrowded story arc that struggles to come together when the show jams them in the same place in the episode’s climax.

As a whole, the show is pretty typical Chuck Lorre fare in every respect: multi-camera, tons of laugh track, the obligatory bawdy and easy jokes, and a blue collar setting. As a result, your final opinion of the show is going to revolve around whether you tend to like most of the current CBS comedy lineup that is modeled in his image.

The Final Verdict: Mom seems to fall into the trap that many sitcoms have in the early going: there’s a ton of unpacking and it ends up hurting the precious timing that comedy relies on. However, there seems to be some bright spots, particularly between the show’s central pairing in Christy and Bonnie (which I’m sure we’ll see in larger doses than in the pilot). As a result, I see this being a wait-and-see proposition for most people, with a bump up to check it out for those who happen to have a fondness for CBS’s brand of comedy.