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Scott D. Pierce: ‘Mom’ isn’t about mom at all anymore

(Photo courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS) As "Mom" enters its eighth season, Allison Janney, left, is still starring in the CBS sitcom, but Anna Faris has left the show.

Not since ABC’s “Cougar Town” has a TV sitcom turned into something that has nothing to do with its title more than CBS’ “Mom.”
When “Mom” premiered in 2013, it was about Christy (Anna Faris), a recovering alcoholic and mother of two, whose teenage daughter was pregnant. And Christy’s estranged mother, recovering alcoholic Bonnie (Allison Janney), suddenly re-entered her life.
“Mom” was good when it debuted. Very good, even. But what started out as a show about a mom, her kids, her daughter’s boyfriend, her ex-husband and her mom evolved into a show about a group of women who lean on each other as they work to stay sober — and it’s turned into a pretty great sitcom.
The kids were de-emphasized in Season 4 and largely disappeared in Season 5. At the same time, the women moved to the center — Mimi Kennedy (who plays Marjorie) was made a series regular in Season 2; Jamie Pressly (Jill) and Beth Hall (Wendy) showed up in Season 2 and became regulars in Season 3; and Kristen Johnston (Tammy) first appeared in Season 5 and became a regular in Season 7.
And pretty much the last tie to the title “Mom” ended with the new season, because Faris unexpectedly left the show. No spoilers here if you haven’t seen Thursday’s episode, but she doesn’t die — always a possibility on a sitcom that has killed off two prominent characters in past seasons. They’re leaving open the possibility that she could make appearances in future episodes, although there has been no announcement of that.
Can “Mom” survive without Christy? At one point, I would’ve told you no. Now ... I think it’s entirely possible. Janney is a TV treasure, and the ensemble cast (including William Fitchner, who co-stars as Bonnie’s husband, Adam) is so good and benefits from such strong writing you can’t bet against the show.
After all, “The Conners” is doing very nicely in its third season post-Roseanne.
Oh, for the record, “Cougar Town” was originally about newly divorced mom Jules (Courteney Cox) dating a series of younger men. That changed by the middle of Season 1 — Jules got a steady boyfriend — and continued in seasons 2-6.

(Photo: Eike Schroter/ABC) Freddie Highmore stars as Dr. Shaun Murphy in “The Good Doctor.”

Too real?

ABC’s “The Good Doctor” returned to record-low ratings on Monday — just 4.7 million viewers tuned in, 1.1 million fewer than the show had averaged to date.
TV is going through a lot of weirdness right now, with shows dribbling back into production and onto schedules and fans losing track. But it probably didn’t help that Monday’s episode tackled the pandemic head-on, with several really tough, depressing storylines.
We have to live through COVID-19 in real life. Watching dark coronavirus stories on TV when we don’t have to is a big ask.

(Photo courtesy of Miller Mobley/Fox) John Slattery stars in “Next.”

Recent cancellations

Fox has axed both the scripted shows it launched this fall, “Filthy Rich” and “Next.”
Both were originally intended to air as summer series, but were delayed so that the network would have some new programming this fall, what with so much production shut down due to the pandemic. Both got off to decent starts creatively, but quickly became convoluted and more than a bit confusing. Both will continue to air until they run out of episodes — four more for “Filthy Rich”; eight more for “Next.”
Fox is also airing episodes of the cop drama “L.A.’s Finest,” which originally aired on Spectrum Cable. That series was canceled before Fox started broadcasting it — and there’s no chance of a reprieve.
Other recent cancellations include:
• Hulu axed the horror anthology “Castle Rock” after two seasons.
• Netflix jettisoned “Away” after one season.
• Peacock canceled “Brave New World” after one season.
In case you missed it, Fox announced that the upcoming ninth season of “Last Man Standing” will be the last. The show has already been canceled once — ABC dropped it after six seasons, and it returned on Fox after a year off the air.

(Photo courtesy of Justin Stephens/Fox) Aaron Lazar as Rev. Paul Thomas, Deneen Tyler as Nora Ellington, Mark L. Young as Jason Conley, Melia Kreiling as Ginger Sweet, Benjamin Aquilar as Antonio Rivera, Gerald McRaney as Eugene Monreaux, Kim Cattrall as Margaret Monreaux, Aubrey Dollar as Rose Monreaux, Corey Cott as Eric Monreaux, Olivia Macklin as Becky Monreaux and Steve Harris as Franklin Lee in “Filthy Rich.”

‘Filthy’ coincidence

Fox’s “Filthy Rich” is actually the second American TV series with that title. CBS aired a sitcom titled “Filthy Rich” way back in 1982.
Both shows featured wealthy families dealing with the death of the family patriarch. (In the 1982 show, he was really dead. In the 2020 show, he turns out to have survived a plane crash — although, six episodes in, his family doesn’t know that.)
The cast of the 1982 sitcom included future “Designing Women” castmates Dixie Carter (as a daughter-in-law) and Delta Burke (as the much-younger widow). Burke met her husband, Gerald McRaney, when he guest starred as one of her character’s ex-husbands on “Designing Women.”
And McRaney stars as the dead-but-not-really-dead family patriarch in the current “Filthy Rich.”
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