Two episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
It’s hard to successfully describe CBS’ Mom in an endearing way without sounding overtly schmaltzy. The show is as bare bones as its title, detailing the rocky relationship between one mother of two, Christy, and her own estranged mom, Bonnie, who walks back in the picture after a few largely unsuccessful years of molding young Christy into a formative member of society. But it’s also emotionally resonant, with season one having dealt with that struggle of forgiveness between Christy and Bonnie, and season two tackling loss in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on a sitcom. If the first two episodes of season three sent for review are any indication, the new year may be the most laudatory mix of goofy comedy and cutting emotion yet, thanks to an interesting new theme – empathy.
It all starts when Bonnie (Allison Janney, who probably couldn’t be bad in anything if she was forced) discovers that her long-in-the-wind mother (Ellen Burstyn) is attempting to reach out to her before a heart condition finally claims her life. Christy (Anna Faris, channeling a more serious, affecting version of Cindy Campell from Scary Movie) thinks Bonnie should meet her, but Bonnie just wants to celebrate the fact that she’s legitimately sober and recovering from the sudden death of rekindled flame Alvin (Kevin Pollak).
And Mom itself isn’t afraid to revel in the serious end of the pool for longer than what is expected of the average sitcom. Bonnie’s dealing with her problems by literally running from them (“You know how people talk about a runner’s high? It’s real! Not as good as the alternative, but real.”) and Christy is just trying to keep all the slowly dismantling parts of her life together as best she can. In the premiere, that’s fielding the meeting between Bonnie and her mom after mistakenly taking a kindly older woman who smells of gingerbread (June Squibb) as her real grandmother, who smells of cigarettes. “Yep, you are my grandmother.”
In the second episode of the season, Christy attempts to manifest an iota of empathy for her ex Baxter (Matt L. Jones) and his newfangled housewife Candace (Sara Rue), who want little Roscoe to hang out with them more and with Christy less. She’s also dealing with the overwhelming stress of being a manager at the restaurant where she waited tables for years, fearful of the outcome of asking her bitchy boss for a raise. Elsewhere in the second episode, the show introduces newbie Jodi (Emily Osment) as a cocaine and meth addict (alcohol is “harder to get” since she’s under 21), who falls in with the gang after a troubling interaction with her drug dealer boyfriend.