Chuck Lorre’s already-sizable CBS footprint continues to grow with “Mom,” joining “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory” and a midseason “Mike & Molly” to bring to four his one-man renaissance of the multicamera comedy. While the show breaks little ground, it’s a fairly polished and inordinately well-cast pilot, with a central duo and underlying theme — mother-daughter relationships, and repeating destructive patterns — that should resonate with a chunk of its target audience. At this point, the principal danger is whether in success Lorre might run out of cranky things to say on all those show-ending vanity cards.
Anna Faris stars as Christy, a woman for whom life hasn’t panned out as intended. She got knocked up early and is so distraught over working as a waitress in a high-end restaurant that a casual compliment about her service unleashes a torrent of tears.
Christy isn’t faring much better in raising her teenage daughter (Sadie Calvano), who is already exhibiting a rambunctious, sleep-around streak, prompting mom to tell her, “Don’t lie to the woman who washes your sheets.”
Seeking consolation at an AA meeting, Christy runs into her mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney). When Christy recalls seeing her mom snort cocaine out of shag carpeting, Bonnie cheerfully dismisses the maneuver as simply being “thrifty.” If Christy considers her mom with about as much enthusiasm as the title character in “Ray Donovan” reserves for his dad, the new and improved Bonnie is a sprightly sort and eager to help out, setting the foundation for the series in motion.
If that sounds like little more than “2 Rehabbing Gals” to follow “2 Broke Girls,” Lorre and co-creators Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker also have given “Mom” a fairly solid B-plot environment, with Nate Corddry as Christy’s manager and French Stewart as the restaurant’s imperious chef.
One suspects the show will ultimately rise or fall on the Faris-Janney material, and just how far it can push the you-were-an-awful-mother shtick, coupled with the occasionally warm-and-fuzzy flourish, without becoming stale.
Still, Janney seems like a natural for this sort of comedic turn, and her character’s zen-like attitude, not over-thinking things and living in the moment, hits home. By that measure, “Mom” has the bones of a pretty durable TV show. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how many laughs you can snort out of that carpet.