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Image Credit: Allison Janney (L) and Anna Faris (R) on Mom.

'Mom' season premiere react: Addiction crisis

Season 2 | Episode 1 | “Hepatitis and Lemon Zest” | Aired Oct 30, 2014

Mom, which focuses on the relationship between Christy (Anna Faris) and her mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney), as they recover from different addictions, is Chuck Lorre’s most daring show to date. But the comedy’s second-season premiere featured such a level of dark brevity that it’s difficult to believe it airs on a network like CBS instead of FX.

EW Community contributors Tamar Barbash, Sundi Rose Holt, and Julia Alexander will be chatting about each new episode this season. Here are their thoughts on the premiere.

SUNDI: Tamar, as the newcomer to the show, what did you think?

TAMAR:I was basically sweating through the entire episode.

JULIA: How so?

TAMAR: Well, it started off with that dream sequence, and I immediately was screaming at my television, “Noooooooo!”

SUNDI: I found the opening drinking scenes the most jarring and the most entertaining.

JULIA: I do think the writers set up the tone for the entire show very well for newcomers in the premiere.

TAMAR: You prepared me, but I wasn’t ready for it to get that dark that quickly.

SUNDI: Bonnie asking Christy to “tie her off” before shooting up was pretty dark.

JULIA: Beginning with incredibly dark humor like Faris relapsing and Janney with the tourniquet around her arm shooting up was definitely mind-boggling. I thought they really reached the desired grittiness with Christy’s first conversation as a sponsor.

JULIA: “What’s going on in your life?” “Oh, not much. I got a DUI, my husband left me, and I tried to kill myself.” “You’re going to do GREAT here.”

TAMAR: That was my favorite line of the whole episode.

SUNDI: Although it felt like the writers might have chickened out a little. What if they just went for it and let either of them go down the rabbit hole of relapse, instead of copping out with a gambling addiction?

JULIA: I wonder if the gambling addiction will be prevalent. They’ll have to address it in the second episode, considering they left it off as Christy, Bonnie, and the kids being evicted.

TAMAR: I didn’t feel that the gambling was a cop-out, Sundi. I loved the line about gambling being addiction coming out another hole.

SUNDI: Do you think they will treat it as seriously as their substance abuse?

TAMAR: Not sure how it will be pursued, but I thought it painted a clear picture of how real the struggle is.

SUNDI: I really like the addition of Jaime Pressly’s character. I think her newly sober character will offer a nice contrast to both Bonnie and Christy.

JULIA: Yes, and as Christy enters her first-year anniversary of sobriety, there’s a new character for the audience to watch develop.

TAMAR: It will be interesting to see how the Pressly character develops. It would be great to see how Christy handles her sponsee’s relapse.

SUNDI: Tone-wise, the premiere took all the things I loved most about the first season and ramped them up. I like that this show is about the characters and not about “recovery.” The writers take the journeys seriously.

JULIA: Watching this premiere reminded me that one of the reasons I love the show so much is because it focuses on a dysfunctional family and the financial struggles many American families are going through. Not many other shows are touching that subject matter.

SUNDI: If they can keep from making caricatures out of “poor folks,” then we might be on to something.

JULIA: They feel authentic. Quirky and exaggerated for television, but authentic.

SUNDI: I agree completely. This show is becoming really adept at making us laugh at things that we aren’t really supposed to.

TAMAR: It’s so hard to balance real issues with the comedy. I laughed a lot, but then the show ended and I was thinking, “That’s it?” They got evicted?

JULIA: I was actually pleasantly surprised that they decided to end it on that note.

TAMAR: I think it was incredibly effective.

SUNDI: It takes guts. Chuck Lorre is known to paint with a pretty broad brush, but there is real definition to this season that we didn’t see in the last one.

JULIA: It fits in perfectly with the overall tone of the show. It’s not going to have a Disney ending. These are real problems, and her winning the amount of rent money she needed on a bet was a fairy-tale ending. The mugging was a dose of reality I think audiences want to see.

SUNDI: I find it fascinating that Faris’ character was written to be laughed at, while Janney’s character is meant to be laughed with.

JULIA: That’s a really interesting point, Sundi. Do you think it has to do with their age and experiences? We respect Janney a bit more because she’s wiser and is the matriarchal figure on the show?

SUNDI: Julia, that’s what I found so surprising. We are so used to Faris in those absurd roles that I admire her reserve as Christy. Her character takes the brunt of a lot of the jokes, and I think it takes real chops to let the other actors in a scene push the momentum like that.

JULIA: I was also really impressed with the level of physical comedy Faris and Janney pulled off. It’s usually reserved for men, but they were just as physical as they were witty. Did you two notice that at all?

TAMAR: I did! Specifically when Janney was describing her desire to screw her ex.

JULIA: Tamar and Sundi, where were your overall thoughts on the strength of the premiere as a whole?

TAMAR: I enjoyed it. I can’t speak to how it fits into the bigger picture, but as a newcomer, it established a clear dynamic between Christy and Bonnie. The introduction of Christy as a sponsor opens up all kinds of storytelling possibilities.

SUNDI: Tamar, I think you offer a unique perspective, but I also think that this season can stand on its own without having experienced the first one.

JULIA: I think they came out swinging and didn’t pull any punches. I can foresee the comedy getting raunchier and yet staying true to its tone and reflecting real problems millions of people face daily. I’m excited to see how they follow up Christy’s newly rediscovered gambling addiction and their financial insecurities.

SUNDI: I think it was a strong start to the season. I am enthusiastic to see more of it.

Mom airs Thursdays at 8:30/7:30C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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