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'Mom' react: Tragedy with a twist

Season 2 | Episode 11 | “Three Smiles and an Unpainted Ceiling” | Aired Jan 22, 2015

EW Community contributors are chatting about each new episode of Mom this season. Here are Tamar Barbash and Sundi Rose Holt’s thoughts about the shocking heartbreaker in “Three Smile and an Unpainted Ceiling.”

Tamar: I’m glad we’re chatting—I need to work through this.

Sundi: Me too. I am having some really mixed feelings about how it all went down.

Tamar: I agree. Mixed feelings. I was upset about what was happening when Alvin actually died.

Sundi: The whole scenario in which Alvin died was in really bad taste.

Tamar: Exactly. It felt like the cheapest possible joke. And I understand that the story was heavy and they needed to get the laughs in wherever they could. But still …

Sundi: HA! We agree. That just cast in a really tacky way. It could have been done a lot differently. I wish the episode started with Christy walking in the room. It was brilliant from that point on. Even the funeral scene felt organic and in the spirit of the show, but I just couldn’t with that bedroom scene.

Tamar: I felt the exact same way. These actors do drama so well, but the show still has an obligation to provide the comedy. And I think the heaviness of this arc just tripped things up a bit.

Sundi: I love falling-apart Bonnie, though. Allison Janney does her best work when she is just a mess and working without any self-conciousness. The mussed hair … the pajamas … It all contributes to her bit and I think she does it so well.

Tamar: The whole time I was watching, I was thinking, “Well, tonight’s chat is going to be an Allison Janney lovefest again.” She’s just that good.

Sundi: Absolutely. She was the standout. Although, that last scene with Christy was taut. Anna Faris really brought the tears in that one.

Tamar: The highlight of the episode for me was the way it got back to its roots about this being a show about people struggling with addiction. The AA scene and Christy and Bonnie at the bar, for me, were the best of the episode.

Sundi: Yes. I knew you were going to love that scene. It was the most genuine I’ve seen this show get about relapse and the struggle.

Tamar: Yes! And I also loved Christy’s approach. Knowing that Bonnie wouldn’t allow her to falter.

Sundi: I wasn’t disappointed about much this week, but I was secretly hoping that Bonnie would slip a little. I know that’s cruel, but I think these writers could do a lot with drunk Bonnie. I feel guilty and exploitive for that. I think they did it without invoking a cliché. It was respectful, and I appreciated that as a longtime fan of this show.

Tamar: I agree. I think a relapse could be interesting, too. On the one hand, as you say, there is some amazing work that could come from Allison Janney falling off the wagon. But, from the more dramatic side, it’s part of the story that’s being told. Relapse happens. And showing that it happens, and that it can be overcome, could be a really beautiful arc for them to explore.

Sundi: My favorite moment of the show was Marjorie’s slap. It felt so honest. It didn’t feel like physical comedy or comedic device. It felt essential to the story—even though the story of Bonnie storming the widow’s house was silly, Marjorie anchored that whole bit. It was amazing.

Tamar: Yes, Mimi Kennedy was really great tonight. But I didn’t think storming the widow’s house was silly. I thought it was horrifying that they were being asked to stay away.

Sundi: Really? Did you want to see it play out?

Tamar: I was happy with the way it went down. That they just decided to show up. But Bonnie’s anger and her desire to do something about it felt totally real to me.

Sundi: Absolutely. And frankly, I think the Mom writers went pretty low-key with the funeral scene. They could have taken it to an absurd place, but it didn’t go that way. I’m relieved.

Tamar: Bonnie went out to buy a dress specifically for a funeral and came back with that sexy LBD?

Sundi: Well, when you’ve got to compete with Beverly D’Angelo, you have to bring your A-game.

Tamar: Ha. Point taken. Anyway, my feeling is this. It’s hard to continuously come up with conflict and circumstances that make a show interesting. Sometimes you have to throw something in to change things up and give your characters something new to deal with.

Sundi: I really, really hope that this is the beginning of the story arc. I want these characters to process through this thing, and I want it to take longer than one episode. Alvin deserves it.

Tamar: We are in the exact same place. Because my point is exactly that. I can forgive the sadness of this, if it leads to rich stories for them to tell.

Sundi: Yes. I predict a real lightening for a few weeks—truthfully, I’m all for it. This was a lot of emotion for a 30-minute comedy.

Tamar: Agreed. But hopefully they’ll still be processing and giving the storyline the attention it deserves. I assume ponytail guy will reappear soon.

Sundi: I’m rooting hard for ponytail at this point, Tamar. I need more ponytail in my life.

Note: Contributor Julia Alexander will rejoin the Mom react crew next week.

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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