I know, I know. I wanted Mom (the new CBS show starring Allison Janney and Anna Faris) to be good, too. It's a sitcom with two strong female leads and an excellent supporting cast (which includes Badger from Breaking Bad), so that alone gives it potential. Unfortunately the bad (it's a multi-camera sitcom produced by Two and a Half Men's Chuck Lorre and, as I mentioned before, it aired on CBS) outweighed the good and what we were left with was a cruel and lazy sitcom about a bunch of people who treat each other like garbage.
Christy (Faris), Mom's protagonist, is a single mother working as a server to make ends meet. She is an alcoholic who's been sober and in AA for the last six months and has an ex (Badger) who refuses to pay child support. Christy should be a character you root for. She is trying to be better her life and give her kids opportunities that were never made available to her — and yet the show treats her with zero compassion. This should make the audience feel bad, if only Christy wasn't equally compassionless to everyone around her.
Allison Janney plays Christy's mother Bonnie, a hard livin' woman who returns to Faris' life in the middle of the episode. As a mother, Bonnie — who is now sober, as well — was and remains reprehensible. “Some mothers teach you how to cook. Mine taught me how to beat a cavity search and still feel like a lady,” Christy tells her AA support group, detailing the childhood she spent surrounded by drug use and emotional abuse. You're supposed to laugh — these kinds of jokes pepper the pilot — but all I felt was depressed, especially after seeing how selfish and unapologetic Bonnie remains.
Black humor is an effective device and there are certainly ways to make the trials and tribulations of two recovering alcoholics funny (especially when you have actors as talented as Faris and Janney), but to do that, you need to handle the topic and characters with care. A bunch of lazy slapdash jokes about cooking meth or licking coke out of a shag carpet is neither thoughtful nor clever. It's dumbed down, boring and mean.
Of course, this was only the Mom pilot and pilots are notoriously awful. Two working-class, female antiheroes leading a network TV show remains an exciting prospect. Too bad it's just so...Chuck Lorre-y.