Chuck Lorre knows one thing for sure about television: Repeats matter.
To generate more sampling for his CBS comedy “Mom,” Lorre had the brainstorm of setting up an unusal deal with TBS. The cabler will air reruns of the show’s first season for a month starting Aug. 25 (which happens to be the night of the Emmy Awards, where co-star Allison Janney is nommed for “Mom.”) “Mom” segs will run weeknights through Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. behind repeats of “The Big Bang Theory,” which are nightly tentpoles for the Turner cabler.
Lorre got the inspiration from his recent discovery of the “Freakonomics” book series by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. He loved the way the books examine the role of hard data in predicting human behavior.
Lorre knew from experience that when “Two and a Half Men” and “Big Bang” went into syndication, ratings for the first-run primetime episodes went up. So he urged Warner Bros. boss Kevin Tsujihara and WBTV Group topper Peter Roth to think outside the norm to get a raft of reruns out there in advance of “Mom’s” Sept. 29 sophomore season debut.
“I suggested we just give (TBS) the episodes,” Lorre told Variety. “I don’t think that exactly happened, but after a whole bunch of wheeling and dealing, to my amazement it actually got done.”
Lorre pushed the studio to make the extra effort on behalf of “Mom” because the show and its subject matter are meaningful to him. Anna Faris and Janney star as a woman and her mother in various stages of recovery after years of bad decisions and bawdy, boozy behavior. It’s a departure from Lorre’s past multicamera milieu and an unusual among sitcoms in general for weaving heavy-duty, real-world problems into the jokes and occasional pratfall.
In season one, Faris’ Christie and Janney’s Bonnie grappled with the consequences of addiction, poverty, teen pregnancy and the long arm of the law. In season two, Lorre says the characters will find themselves losing their apartment and scrambling to find places to stay until they can scrape up the money to get a new place.
“Christie is a single waitress trying to support two kids with a ne’er-do-well mother who has just shown up. That’s a very volatile existence,” Lorre said. “We knew we couldn’t be wedded to that apartment (from season one). Because that’s what happens when you live paycheck to paycheck.”
Lorre has made no secret of his frustration that “Mom” hasn’t drawn a bigger audience on CBS. The show wrapped its first season with a respectable 9.2 million viewers on average in Nielsen’s Live Plus 7 measure in the Monday 9:30 p.m. slot. Given the nature of the storytelling, “Mom” doesn’t lend itself to pithy tag lines or slick promo spots.
“The only thing to promote the show is the show itself,” Lorre said. “I may not be entirely objective, but I want to show off my beautiful baby. I want people to see Anna’s work and Allison’s work.”
(Pictured: Chuck Lorre, Anna Faris, Allison Janney)