'Mom' Sitcom Portrays Vibrant, Realistic Lives in Recovery

By Kelly Burch 02/09/18

"For most people in recovery, getting sober isn’t the end of the story—it’s the beginning of the story."

allison janney
Allison Janney

The CBS sitcom Mom isn’t just a show about life in recovery, but living sober is a major theme, since the two main characters, Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney), are both in recovery. The show creators say that they make an effort to honestly show the struggles and rewards of sober living, creating a realistic picture of recovery for viewers.

“For most people in recovery, getting sober isn’t the end of the story—it’s the beginning of the story,” the show’s co-creator and executive producer Gemma Baker told Variety. “So I am glad that we got to start ‘Mom’ in the beginning of Christy’s recovery and tell the story of her turning her life around and all the wins and losses of trying to become a better version of yourself. I love that we get to portray people with long-term recovery living full, vibrant lives and who choose to stay sober in the face of heartbreak by rallying around each other.”

Baker said that recently a fan pointed out the respect with which Christy and Bonnie are portrayed. The fan said “even though the characters are drug addicts and alcoholics who’ve made a lot of mistakes, you write them with dignity,” Baker recalled.

“I hadn’t thought about it exactly in those terms before but [it’s] true,” she said. “All of the writers really love our characters and we protect them.”

The show has covered issues including relapse, sponsorship, teen drug use and attending meetings, and even worked with the former Surgeon General on a public service announcement about opioid addiction.

“Research is very important,” says co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. “It’s important to stay honest and true to what these issues are really about, not to make things up necessarily. That would be unfair—that would be like cheating. We’re trying to maintain some honesty when we’re dealing with these issues.”

Executive producer Nick Bakay said that honesty resonates with viewers, whether or not they are in recovery themselves.

“[Christy and Bonnie] have had no leg up [and] came from very, very difficult origins, and one of the things I like about our show is that it’s not like you get sober on our show and your life is just a bed of roses,” he said. “It’s hard work every day and they still get knocked down but they do get up.”

Faris, who plays Christy, said that she often has people who are in recovery comment on the accuracy of the characters’ experiences on the show—including the trying times.

“We get people coming up to us on the street who have personal experiences [and] it’s incredibly flattering,” Faris said. “It’s an honor and it’s really moving when our show touches people in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.