Real talk: It's possible that one of the best shows on television right now is a multi-camera comedy on a network known for its older-skewing demographic. Mom, which aired a truly devastating episode on Thursday night that involved the tragic overdose death of a young woman—yes, on a multi-cam sitcom—still tends to fly under the radar when it comes to TV buzz (despite the awards it's won). That's a real shame, and TV team members Jean Bentley and Billy Nilles want you to stop sleeping on such a great show.
Jean: Ok, first of all, I feel like we should both confess that we have regularly been watching and liking this show since it premiered in 2013. I personally have no shame at all about liking it (some people are weird about CBS sitcoms), I just don't really talk about it because I don't know of too many friends who watch it.
Billy: I think it took time to find itself but after course-correcting and narrowing its focus (goodbye, restaurant subplots), it really began to sing. It's to the point where, each week, when the final credits roll, I look at the clock and wonder 'How is this already over?' I could watch for hours. And every shining positive about this show was on full display tonight.
Jean: Yes! It was tragic and funny and made me feel a lot of disparate emotions in a very short 19ish minutes (commercials, man).
Billy: It unflinchingly took on the topic of addiction, something that most of TV, especially sitcoms, tend to gloss over or fix easily. But Mom's mission statement has seemed to be that there is no easy fix with addiction. This is a daily struggle. And some days, addiction wins the struggle. It won tonight.
Jean: If you haven't tuned in (or haven't in a while), the show is about a group of women from the same Alcoholics Anonymous group supporting each other through recovery. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it's really not (always). The jokes land and they definitely ride the line of appropriateness more than you'd think for a CBS show. So this season, Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) took in a young recovering teenage addict, who seemed to be doing well.
Billy: As you can likely gather, that young addict (played by Emily Osment) had a slip. She met a fellow recovering heroin addict and began dating him, despite the advice of the women in her group. There's a reason why dating early in recovery is discouraged. Sadly, that was proven here with the worst possible consequence.
Jean: But even though you saw it coming, it was still so real and sad. We've only known the character for a few episodes here and there throughout the season—but I was still totally devastated. It might be inevitable, but it's still a tragedy. I think the reason this show is so good is because it travels into "very special episode" territory on a regular basis, and you really like and root for the characters because the demons they have are so present.
Billy: And it does so without ever making it feel like "very special episode," you know what I mean? A lot of times, when shows go that route, they forego comedy, as if we shouldn't laugh at tragedy. Instead, Mom digs in. In life, there is often humor in tragedy, and the show recognizes that. And I think that's what makes an episode like this feel all the more powerful.
Jean: Exactly! It's not all serious, though, I feel like I need to emphasize that. I definitely still have several very genuine, hearty laughs every week. It's really reliable, and that's why I keep watching. But it's nights like these where I feel like I need to make sure everyone else needs to know the stuff this show is doing.
Billy: Right. I wholeheartedly agree. The show is doing something really special here, besides just letting me cackle at Allison Janney every week. It's admirable that it is completely willing to take on something as serious as addiction, not sugarcoat the reality of it, have the guts to allow tragedy to seep into its world—and still make us laugh. I don't know any sitcom that's tried to pull that off since Norman Lear's heyday.
Jean: Plus, like you mentioned to me earlier—the entire main cast of this show has an average age of 50, and they're ALL women. How awesome is that?
Billy: It's an embarrassment of riches. Even on TV, a landscape more welcoming to actresses than film, this cast is a rarity.
Jean: In conclusion, Mom is great and you should be watching. Like, it's 20 minutes out of your week if you fast-forward via DVR. You have NO excuse.
Billy: Truthfully. There are some people who might never give the show a chance because of how out-of-vogue multi-cam comedies have become on TV. And that's a shame because they're missing out on something quite special. A show with purpose and good deal of laughs? It deserves to be seen.
Mom airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.