Chris Philpott 's Opinion

Chris Philpott is nzherald.co.nz's resident TV expert.

Chris Philpott: Why is TV2's new comedy Mom on so early?

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How could anyone think 7.30pm is a suitable timeslot for TV2's new comedy show Mom? Chris Philpott investigates - and TVNZ responds.
Anna Faris, Sadie Calvano and Allison Janney from Mom, one of TV2's new season comedy shows.
Anna Faris, Sadie Calvano and Allison Janney from Mom, one of TV2's new season comedy shows.

I hate every comedy series created or produced by Chuck Lorre.

Okay, let me clarify that because it seems like a broad, weird statement to make. Chuck Lorre, the man behind high-rating shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, has a habit of making comedies that - at risk of sounding like a pretentious jerk - appeal to people who appreciate a simpler form of humour.

Sure, I've laughed at Big Bang on occasion, and I even thought Dharma & Greg had some charm. But for the most part, I find them juvenile and humourless, full of jokes based around sexual innuendo and social faux pas.

Reading through a list of Lorre's credits - Big Bang, Men, Dharma & Greg, Mike & Molly, Cybill, Grace Under Fire - is like reading through a list of the laziest sitcoms ever made.

Despite my low opinion, they rate extremely high, both here and around the world.

The Big Bang Theory is currently the highest rating sitcom in the known universe - and it took that title from Two and a Half Men.

TV2 figured this out and bought all of them, debuting new seasons of three Lorre shows last night, including a brand new series, Mom, which aired at 7.30pm.

Mom actually sounded promising - you know, before I sat to watch the first episode. Anna Faris is as good a comedic actress as you could hope to cast as the lead in a show like this, and she is surrounded by some talented supporting players like Nate Corddry, Alison Janney and Matt Jones.

Even the premise was good: a single mother of two is forced to confront her own failings when her own neglectful mum shows up uninvited.

Sadly, the reality is less enthralling. Mom is just as reliant on low-brow humour as any other Lorre comedy. It isn't clever and it isn't funny. And it commits the biggest sin any television show can commit: it isn't entertaining.

I would normally dismiss a show like Mom without a second thought: as commenters are always quick to remind me, I can "vote with my remote" and just ignore it. Nobody is forcing me to watch these shows and if I don't like it then just read a book. And there are dozens of bad shows on television. I watch very few of them.

But something else troubles me about Mom - namely, how could anyone think this was suitable for 7.30pm?

As I've already mentioned, the humour on Mom is kind of low-brow. The main character, Christy, is a former alcoholic and drug addict who attends AA meetings and jokes about falling off the wagon. She had a child while she was just a teenager and her ex-boyfriend hangs around, making inappropriate comments about his former girlfriend.

Christy is involved with a married man. Her daughter, now 16 years old, is sleeping with her boyfriend. And her mother, who shows up during the premiere, has suffered many of the same problems with drinking and drugs.

If you're keeping count, we're talking about a comedy series that deals with alcoholism, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, teen sex and adultery - and those are just the topics I can remember off the top of my head.

Janney makes a joke at one point about how cooking meth technically counted as having a job. Mom is overtly sexual and excessively depraved, and full of content that would be right at home on a show like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos.

Yet, the programmers at TVNZ deemed it suitable for a 7.30pm audience? In the USA, Mom airs at 9.30pm and carries a rating of TV14, which is the equivalent of an AO rating here in New Zealand. Just to put that in context, The Block carries a PGR rating, as does Top Gear, both of which aired last night opposite Mom.

The 7.30pm slot is a time when parents are less likely to be keeping an eye on what the kids are watching, and networks have - by programming family-friendly at that time - made it safe for parents to do that, meaning it is far too early for a show of this nature, regardless of what the rating might be.

I'm no expert, but I would've thought that 7.30pm was a time for family-friendly fare, light comedies that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages - kind of like The Middle or The Goldbergs, which air in the same slot on Mondays.

Come on, TVNZ: apply a little commonsense to Mom and move it to 9pm, or later.

nzherald.co.nz asked TVNZ to respond to Chris Philpott's criticisms of Mom's timeslot. A Programme Standards Manager had this to say:

"Mom has been though the standard assessment process and rated as PGR, and the content is consistent with other shows that are on screen or have previously been broadcast in the PGR timezone. It is not unusual for PGR shows to contain references to drugs and/or sex."

* What do you think of Mom? Post your comments below.

Chris Philpott

Chris Philpott is nzherald.co.nz's resident TV expert.

In a strange way, Chris Philpott has grown up with television: his first big addiction was The X Files, which he watched as a teenager, enthralled by what was possible with the form. Chris’ love of TV grew over the years, parallel to the popularity and quality of serial dramas like The Sopranos, Lost, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. He began writing about TV professionally in 2010, before joining the NZ Herald in late 2013, and considers writing about TV more than a passing interest or hobby: he genuinely loves sharing new series and discussing the big shows with readers. Chris is based in Whangarei, and lives with his wife and daughter. When he isn’t watching television … just kidding, he’s always watching television.

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