CBS closed out their part of the press tour with “Mom,” the latest sitcom from hit maker Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men,” “Big Bang Theory”). Lorre, who was joined by co-creators Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker as well as stars Anna Faris, Allison Janey, French Strewart, Matt Jonses and Nate Corddry, made a joke to warm up the room. ‘I wanted to do a show about vampires. Been done.”
He continued by explaining that the show, about newly sober single mom Christy, is his latest attempt at telling a story he’s tried to tackle several times in the past. “I wanted to tell a story about a woman starting her life over again and redemption and all those funny premises for a sitcom. I [tried to do it with] ‘Grace Under Fire,’ but I left after a year because… just because. I tried it again with ‘Cybill.’ This is a story that’s very meaningful to me. It’s about starting your life over again repairing the mistakes that you’ve done. Getting another start [is] very much a story of Los Angeles, even though this isn’t set in Los Angeles, because this is the city of second chances or fifth or sixth chances.
Faris didn’t need a second chance, but changes in her life made her more interested in taking a TV series. “I had a son, I have a son, so I’m sort of thinking maybe I’ll just let my husband work and I’l just laze around, sit by the pool. I wasn’t necessarily ready to get back to work yet… the day the script came, I had left the script on the kitchen counter and [my husband] read the first page and said whatever else you’re doing put it down, this is you… [Christy] is so dimensional, she’s a mess, very much like me. It’s a story about relationships and character. I knew right away I really wanted to do it. Chuck being a part of it, how can you get into better hands?
It’s also, on paper, a story about drugs and addiction, though Baker partly disagrees. “I think this isn’t just a show about addiction. It’s about a character who’s… really trying to get better. We can forgive her a lot of her past. Anna is so lovable, it’s so easy to root for her and know she’s really trying to start over. Chuck… creates these worlds that are really specific and populates them with these flawed but lovable characters.”
For Faris, this is also an opportunity to play a woman of normal intelligence. “Playing those one dimensional characters is actually really difficult because you’re not dealing with anyone you really know, so your job is so much easier when you’re playing a character you really understand. I wanted to do something… more rewarding.”
Because Baker’s contribution to the concept was having “the nightmare of her life in the rear view mirror,” the show will likely be a little more upbeat. “We could have children on the show and we could root for her,” she explained.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for dysfunction, however. “The messier and bigger they are, the more they are rooted in some tragic dysfunction,” Janney said of her recovering alcoholic character Bonnie. “They somehow make sense because of the pain underneath. I’m a very happy and well adjusted lady, but I love it.”
Stewart said of his character, “He enjoys his drugs, he sleeps with the staff, he’s arrogant.” Like Faris, he had a more wholesome reason for taking the job. “My wife just had a baby a month ago, so it was the chance to stay home and do something of quality. It all came at the right time. Chuck said that L.A. is the city of second chances and man, is he right.”
As far as how Lorre will balance the new show with his many others, he mentioned what Norman Lear once told him. “He said you go where the fire is burning the brightest. You do what you can do where you’re most needed.” He also mentioned that Christy would be getting a love interest played by Justin Long. “Poor bastard doesn’t know what he’s in for, but he’s going to be her first shot at a meaningful relationship at this time in his life.”
Octavia Spencer will be coming in during the fifth episode “playing a woman with bigger problems than Christy, so Christy gets perspective.”
Both Janney and Farris addressed how their own moms might react to the show. “My mom, because this is a little edgy, she’ll be uncomfortable with it,” Janney said. “She’ll watch it because she has to and because she loves me, but she’ll call me and say ‘I just don’t know about this.'”
Faris said the edgier aspects of the show will likely go over her mother’s head. “My mom is also a prude She told me recently she’d never seen a condom. She’ll say you were so good, but she’s then very typical mom. I’ll tell her you can only give me thee pieces of advice today. That’s it!”