What’s Worth Watching: A Mom in Recovery

Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

Mom, “Sick Popes and a Red Ferrari,” Thursday, April 16, 9:30/8:30c, CBS

If there were any doubt Allison Janney is the front-runner for a second consecutive Emmy (as supporting actress in a comedy), this week’s episode of the underrated sitcom Mom should seal the deal. In a daring arc that plays to the much-lauded actress’s comedic and dramatic strengths, her character of Bonnie recently relapsed on painkillers after a back injury, falling back on desperate bad behaviors to feed her habit and lying to her loved ones, while stooping so far as to pilfer a neighbor’s cat tranquilizers. Even at Bonnie’s most horrific, Janney puts a sardonic spin on her punchlines that land every time, maximizing the humor from a terribly serious situation.

Now that the cat (so to speak) is out of the bag, the story picks up with enraged daughter and fellow alcoholic Christy (Anna Faris) retrieving Bonnie from a night in jail, both so furious at the other that they can barely speak, only recriminate. Back home, their fellow AA ladies rally around Bonnie to get her through withdrawal, led by the terrific Mimi Kennedy as cancer sufferer/sponsor Marjorie, who notes, “When one of us stumbles, we surround them with love.” Well, not so fast where a bitterly disillusioned Christy is concerned. At its best, which this current run of episodes exemplifies, Mom finds laughter in pain as one of the very few socially relevant comedies anywhere on TV.