'Mom' review: Anna Faris and Allison Janney are strong but the show could use some tweaking
This multi-camera comedy revolves around Christy (Faris), a waitressing single mom who is raising a teenage daughter and younger son while battling her own demons, like being a recovering alcoholic. Christy makes it clear she wasn't exactly "raised right" and she's desperately trying to do better with her own kids -- including keeping daughter Violet from getting pregnant at a young age like Christy did.
Enter Christy's mom, Bonnie (Janney), also with a past substance abuse problem, wanting a fresh start but also full of "helpful" parenting tips. The ensemble is rounded out by Nate Corddry, Christy's married boss with whom she is having a relationship, and French Stewart, her restaurant's ill-tempered chef.
The main problem with this sitcom is how old-fashioned it feels, which is not a huge surprise considering Chuck Lorre is behind it. It has all the earmarks of his typical shows -- multi-camera format, going for the cheap and easy jokes and a distracting laugh track.
What helps the show rise above those conventions is actually the serious moments and the acting chops of Faris and Janney dealing with the universal themes of parent-child relationships and self-destructive behavior.
In fact, there are several serious moments in the pilot that are incredibly well done by Faris -- but they are nearly washed away by the nice moments being followed up by a cheap joke. One has the feeling that if "Mom" were done as a dramedy that wasn't afraid to be vulnerable, it would be a top-notch show.
Instead, it's trying too hard to be a "sitcom" that looks and feels straight out of 1992. The bones are there, but the execution is lacking.
However, we don't foresee the show suddenly going to a single-camera format, ditching the laugh track and allowing itself to be a sensitive comedy with heart. So, we aren't sure we'll keep the DVR set for "Mom." Which is too bad, because the leads are fantastic.
"Mom" premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.