Anna Faris finds sitcom that laughs in the face of dysfunction a perfect fit
Anna Faris is incredibly flattered and maybe a wee bit insulted when people who know her well insist shes the perfect actress to star in the new CBS sitcom Mom, premiering 8:30 p.m. Monday on CBS.
I take it as a compliment, of course, because heres this very complicated character whose life is a mess, Faris says. Shes dealing with problems of alcoholism and recovery, of being a single mom.
Now that shes in her 30s, shes coming to terms with the consequences of having been a teen mom and a high school dropout, her dreams not realized at all. Shes a waitress having an affair with her boss, her married boss. Shes flawed in so many ways.
What an intriguing and exciting challenge as an actress. What an amazing opportunity.
Then an undermining little thought pops into the back of her brain.
There is maybe 2 percent of me that wonders, What exactly are you suggesting about me when you say this character is so me? Faris says. I mean, Ive got it more together than that, dont I?
Most of the time, however, Faris doesnt question it, because shes enjoying the work so much.
Faris, perhaps best known for starring in the Scary Movie comedies, plays Christy, a waitress and single mother of two. Shes four months sober and trying her best to overcome a history of bad choices.
Shes also just now figuring out, to her horror, that she has become a second-generation copy of her estranged mother.
Bonnie, played by Allison Janney, is a recovering drug and sex addict. Bonnie was a horrible single parent when Christy was growing up. And now shes back, chock-full of passive-aggressive insights into Christys shortcomings but never accepting any of the blame herself.
Its enough to drive a girl to drink. Again. Which, of course, is a problem.
Heres what I love about the premise, Faris says. Over the years, Ive been involved in developing a number of projects. And the feedback from the studio has often been, We want the girl to be more likable.
I think our industry still feels that its very risky territory for a woman in a TV series or in a movie to be unlikable. So they say, We want women viewers to be her friend and guys to have a crush on her.
And what you end up with, after you make too many compromises to please an audience, is a very lukewarm kind of character whose only flaw, maybe, is that shes clumsy. Well, Im proud to say that that hasnt been an issue with this character and this show.
Faris who is 36, married to actor Chris Pratt and mother to their 13-month-old son was beginning to embrace the idea that she might not work for a while when the Mom script showed up.
Super producer Chuck Lorre (the man behind Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly) sent it over directly, cutting out her agent and manager as middlemen, hoping she would consider. She instantly fell in love with the character.
The most fulfilling moments in my career, she says, have been when Im playing lunatics.
That, by the way, is why people who know her have suggested that Christy is so her.
One troubling thought has occurred to Faris, however.
How will she react if viewers start coming forward with true stories of addiction within their own families, stories shes not equipped to hear?
I do hope this show can explore what being in recovery is about and the gifts it can give you, she says. And I hope we can do it with a sense of humor, because most of the shows on TV about addiction that Ive seen have been very grim.
But I am not prepared for potential true confessions!