• Tue, Sep 24 - 2:08 pm ET

The Only Thing Stopping Mom from Being Two and a Half Men is Allison Janney

Anna Farris and Allison Janney for Mom Credit Monty Brinton/CBS

Mom, the tale of wannabe sober mom Christy (Anna Faris) and her wannabe sober mom, Bonnie (Allison Janney), premiered Monday night on CBS. The new sitcom is the latest project of Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre. We expected Mom to be just as popular and just as disappointing, because let’s be honest, Two and a Half Men isn’t known for being a standout television series.

The series starts off with Christy having a nervous breakdown and bawling through her tasks as a waitress. Her character didn’t graduate high school, failed to become a psychologist and instead ended up a drunk with two children—it’s the perfect scenario for a Chuck Lorre comedy. Despite Anna’s best efforts, the best part of the first scene was a (very quick) cameo by Jon Cryer (A.K.A. Two and a Half Men’s Alan Harper) that brought on a roaring cheer from the audience. Aside from that, all other laughs seemed overbearing and forced.

Next, alcoholic Christy reconnects with her alcoholic mom at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting while blaming her for her own life’s problems. Four-time Emmy-Award-winning Allison Janney is the best part of the entire episode, feeding us punch line after punch line. She licked cocaine crumbs off of a carpet to be thrifty, cooked meth to make a living and asks a waiter for a lap to try on. Though it’s a new level of crude for prime time television, Allison pulls the character off convincingly and, in our opinion, is the funniest part of the episode.

When asked what it’s like to work with Allison, Anna told Refinery 29:

I feel so honored that she came onto this project. She’s such an incredible actress. She’s also an amazing person and is truly a joy to work with. I think our whole TV relationship — the mother-daughter thing — is very, very relatable. She has been my biggest champion and my harshest critic — and very, very critical of me, just like all moms are.

The series is set to continue with Christy attempting to reconcile with her mother and get her daughter to forgive her. As far as pilots go, Mom wasn’t terrible, nor was it great. It was certainly much too similar to Two and a Half Men, save for Janney’s character. If Chuck Lorre can get the actors’ chemistry to click and the jokes to be more organic, we may see some success for Mom. All in all, the comedy can likely be summed up by Anna’s recent quote to Vulture:

We have, like, an anal-sex joke! It’s amazing!

We’re going to err on the side of niceness and say that this director’s attempt at a female comedy has potential—but it also has potential to flop. If anything, it’s Anna’s chance at some serious silver screen fame and a long-term job. What it will do for Allison’s reputation remains to be seen, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like something she’ll want to brag about in a few years.

(Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS)

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