The ‘Mom’ Cast Reflects on Their Favorite Moments Ahead of Series Finale
It’s difficult to mine heartfelt laughs from a topic like addiction recovery, but CBS’s long-running hit Mom had fans hooked from the start. Created by sitcom king Chuck Lorre (who counts Young Sheldon and The Kominsky Method among his many successes), Gemma Baker and Eddie Gorodetsky, the series ends an eight-season run May 13. That finale gives one last look at a 12-step group of courageous, flawed, fabulous women, centered, appropriately enough, on self-centered Bonnie Plunkett (Allison Janney, who won two Emmys for the role). But it is the chemistry of these characters — and how they have grown, thanks to one another’s help — that explains the series’ warm appeal.
“One of the biggest messages in Mom is you don’t have to go through anything alone,” Janney says in a freewheeling discussion with her main costars, Jaime Pressly (who plays socialite Jill Kendall), Mimi Kennedy (wise AA vet Marjorie Armstrong-Perugian), Beth Hall (introverted Wendy Harris) and Kristen Johnston (contractor Tammy Diffendorf). Before the women fold up the community center chairs forever, the cast share their favorite series moments.
Valentine’s Day Mess-acre
“When we first met Bonnie, she was a hot mess and a narcissist, getting sober by a ‘nudge from the judge’ to get close to her daughter,” says Janney of the onetime coke-snorting con artist. (The daughter, of course, was fellow addict Christy, played by Anna Faris, who departed the series unexpectedly before the final season.) “Bonnie’s become someone who has a better relationship to herself and, because of that, better relationships.” One is with her husband, ex-stuntman Adam Janikowski (played by William Fichtner), who “accepts her, warts and all.”
A highlight for Janney was this season’s Valentine’s Day episode. It started with a romantic dinner for two, but as plans fell through, the group trickled in. So Adam embraced it and bought everyone roses. Bonus moment: Pressly cracks up remembering when Bonnie first met Adam, who uses a wheelchair. “All Bonnie could think was, ‘Does it work down there?’ When he said it did, she was like, ‘Let’s do this!’”
Jill — a wealthy former beauty queen who seemed to have it all — came to realize “her biggest desire is to be a mother,” Pressly says. “The first time she miscarried, she fell off the wagon, [but] she had her girls for support.” In a pivotal Season 4 episode, Pressly recalls, “Bonnie starts talking about how she had been in foster care and all the ups and downs she went through. Jill decides she’s going to foster a child.” That led to her caring for foster daughter Emily (Julia Lester).
The Funniest Spit Take
Tammy burst on the scene in Season 5 as an inmate in a woman’s prison who, it turns out, tussled with Bonnie years earlier in foster care. The pair reconciled and, when paroled, Tammy eventually moved into chez Plunkett. Laughing, Johnston remembers the standout Season 6 moment when Tammy way overdid it on Tylenol: “I realized what I was in for on the show with that scene. I got to spit out not 300, not 400, but 500 [Tylenol]. It never ended!”
The moment Kennedy treasures most came off-camera: a breakthrough on how to play Bonnie’s sponsor Marjorie, the wise recovery vet and cat lover partial to velour tracksuits. (The actress jokingly refers to this informal wear as her “sweat-xedo,” as in “tuxedo.”) It was a scene in Season 2 when Bonnie relapsed. “Chuck [Lorre] coached me, ‘This is not Marjorie’s first rodeo.’ That has echoed in my head,” says Kennedy. “Marjorie sees the other women as facets of what she has gone through.”
One Badass Nurse
“Weeping Wendy” became ER nurse Wendy’s nickname when she was introduced in Season 2. “I was crying every episode,” says Hall. It became a running gag for the group to brush off Wendy’s comments, and her to roll with it, agreeably. “But she’s come a long way,” Hall says, citing a Season 3 scene when Wendy let her take-charge side come out after Christy was hospitalized with pneumonia.
But wait, Hall’s castmates jump in; is that really the signature Wendy moment among so many? What about the time Wendy kissed a hot cardiologist! And the scuttle about her family’s Mafia “connections”! And her two moms!
For Hall, this free-for-all among the close stars is very much like Mom at its vintage best. “As you get older, you’ve weeded out what you don’t want. You find people you can hang with and relate to,” she says. No doubt, millions of fans will be in need of a group hug once Mom says farewell. Tissues, anyone?
Mom, Series Finale, Thursday, May 13, 9/8c, CBS