Mom 1×02 ‘A Pee Stick and an Asian Raccoon’: Evolution of pregnancy tests

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Well, viewers, I’ve gotten past my Chuck Lorre prejudice and quite enjoyed Mom this week. What this show lacks is plot originality (what’s more common on TV these days than teen pregnancy?), but it can get away with it if it properly utilizes its actors, specifically Faris and Janney, who truly are comic talents. 

Faris’s character Christy shined the most for me in the beginning of the episode when she’s trying to calm down her daughter Violet who is taking a pregnancy test. I find her most humorous when she is rambling to herself, rather than when she is responding with one-liners to ridiculous comments her mother Bonnie makes. The pilot episode is full of this kind of set it up, knock it down joke structure that is so tired and overplayed, especially on CBS. Not to say that this episode is void of conversations between Christy and Bonnie where every other line is the punch line, but there is a clear effort to not rely on this formula solely.
I’d point to the sort of ‘evolution of pregnancy tests’ joke as an example of a functional joke. While Christy is failing to calm Violet down, she mentions how pregnancy tests have gotten evolved to give results more quickly and marvels at the advancements of science. This is obviously not what a nervous maybe-pregnant teenage girl wants to hear at such a stressful time. Violet screams at Christy who continues to chatter away in an effort to calm herself down. Faris plays anxious very well and her wobbling at this moment is a great touch. The joke gets an added layer when Bonnie enters their home and, upon learning Violet is waiting for a result, complains that pregnancy tests took even longer for her than when Christy was pregnant. Here we see a joke that refers to something earlier in the episode, which is rewarding to the audience, and also illustrates the similarities between Christy and Bonnie. No, it is not the funniest joke in the history of television, but it has layers and aids in characterization, two elements essential to creating depth, which a young sitcom like Mom desperately needs.

Source: CBS

Source: CBS

The episode was light on restaurant scenes, which was disappointing, but I found some potential for humor in the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that both Christy and Bonnie attend. Bonnie has yet to reveal the vulnerabilities that lead to her alcoholism, so it’s funny to see her treat the meeting like a club for singles looking to connect and the podium as a platform to tell humorous anecdotes. Clearly, she doesn’t take the group too seriously.

Source: CBS

Source: CBS

Is it necessary to take issues like teen pregnancy seriously? Sure, but aren’t we tired of hearing that young men often freak out and bail when they learn they will be fathers? Weren’t we expecting Christy’s support for her daughter no matter what? The sentimental moments of the show are some of the least original, and though they attempt to give the show heart, Mom would be best advised to stray away from typical family exchanges when they have created such a unique kind of TV family with three generations of moms.

With two moms already dominating the show (and the promise of another), the upcoming storylines will likely be monopolized with each mother comparing her pregnancy experiences with the new mom. Yes, Mom is dominated by women, but my favorite line of the night comes from Baxter, who sees his son with a positive pregnancy test and exclaims “why is my son pregnant?!?”

Caroline Duessel

is a student at Boston University. She isn’t studying screenwriting, but she pretends she is. On Saturdays you can find her at Costco.

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