CBS recently announced that after eight seasons, the hit sitcom Mom is coming to an end. The show launched with the story of Christy, a recently-sober alcoholic/addict young mother of two who learned her wicked ways under the tutelage of her equally-damaged alcoholic/addict mother, Bonnie. (Yes, I know. Hilarious.) Both got high, spent time in jail, and got knocked up as teenagers while in an unstable household.
Ironically, that’s not where the comedy lies.
Allison Janney stars as the also-sober Bonnie trying to re-connect and make amends to her daughter. Anna Faris was Christy, trying to be a better mother to her two kids while still resenting the heck out of Bonnie for only getting sober after she had ruined her daughter’s childhood. And then Christy’s own teenage daughter repeats the cycle by getting pregnant.
If that isn’t comedy gold, well, let’s add in the oddball list of characters from Alcoholics Anonymous. Now, we’ve got a powerhouse of laughter.
And it was. Instead of disrespecting AA, the show told viewer that sometimes life is so hard, you just have to laugh to get through it. The truth can be painful. It can also be funny and healing. It all depends on how you look at it.
And the writers chose to see the funny. And the healing.
Mom dissected all sides of addiction in its various forms. There was substance – drugs, alcohol, nicotine, gambling – and emotional – anger, dependence, poor choices. Some results were funny. Others were painful. All were relatable.
And the stories were constantly changing. Issues weren’t solved in a single episode. Growth happened much slower. And there were a lot of missteps.
Fast forward eight seasons and Christy’s two kids are long gone. The son lives with his dad and the daughter moved to Vegas, blaming her failures on her mother. Apparently, even sitcoms don’t always have happy endings.
And last summer, Faris left show too. Consequently, going from three mom relationships to none, the final season looks absolutely nothing like the original. And that’s okay.
Because Bonnie’s female AA supports have always been the backbone of Mom. They’re women with a past – a painfully honest set of life experiences, mistakes, and regrets. And while the show’s male characters have mostly come and gone as boyfriends, father-figures, husbands and employers, the women have remained supportive.
And there’s been a lot to support. One went to jail. Another was released. New addictions replaced old ones while others just relapsed.
Now, you might wonder, “What’s so funny about that?” The answer: everything. Mom has been compared to comedy royalty, All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore for its ability to balance humour and life’s pain, and to make viewers laugh – not just at the characters, but at themselves whom they see in those characters.
And just like MTM, I’ll probably cry when it’s time for Mom to say goodbye. There hasn’t been a show quite like it – ever. But like so many, I’ll be left with lessons learned. And episodes available in syndication.