Mom is not at all something I would normally watch but it is hard to resist Allison Janney. Despite her small role in Masters of Sex, she was one of the enduring reasons that kept me watching because of her nuanced and often heartbreaking depiction. She was a force to be reckoned with in The West Wing in a character who evolved throughout and showed strength and vulnerability at every turn. I loved her smaller, earlier roles in films like Big Night and Primary Colors. And so, so many others. It does not matter what film it is – even the crappiest film is made better with her presence.
Mom is punctuated by bawdy, vulgar humor that is only funny half the time, and imagining Janney in this kind of role seemed difficult. But I watched, and I stuck around for her (and Mimi Kennedy).
The worst part is the ostensible “star” of the show: Anna Faris, who is beyond annoying as she overacts the shit out of every scene. A few times, mostly in the quieter moments of despair she feels, something good shines through. But mostly she is too much, and if the show were only her, it would be completely unwatchable.
That is about all there is to say about this show. Once in awhile someone says something uproarious. And once in awhile the show hits an emotional, almost touching note as it tries to navigate the storytelling challenges posed by portraying people in recovery – how do you make addiction funny? Or, then again, how can you not try to make addiction funny? In reality it’s as complicated as people are. And surprisingly, in many cases, Mom handles this balance well, in large part because of Janney and Kennedy.