Thursday, February 18, 2016

REVIEW: 'Mom' - A Horrible Tragedy Interrupts Marjorie's Wedding in 'Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride'

CBS' Mom - Episode 3.12 "Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride"

When Marjorie announces she's getting married, Christy and Bonnie are determined to make it the perfect day.

At its core, Mom is a story about addiction. It's a horrible disease that complicates the lives of all of the main characters. Over the course of the three seasons so far, Christy and Bonnie have faced temptation from every aspect of their lives. It has been about a year since either of them relapsed. Everyone in the core group of addict friends is committed to the program. But once again, the series showcases just how unexpected the harsh realities of this disease can pop up. Everyone is off celebrating the happy occasion that is Marjorie's wedding. It's a day filled with optimism and excitement for the future. But it's also a horrifying day that is ruined with the sudden news that Jody has overdosed and died.

Jody's arc this season has been really complex. It started from a really engaging place. The season was showcasing just how generational conflict can affect one's ability to become sober and stay that way. That was apparent right up until the very end. Jody was still making jokes at the expense of the rest of the group just because they are all so much older than her. But Jody's story this season was also somewhat abbreviated. So much of the progress she made from that first time Christy and Bonnie met her at a meeting happened offscreen. The story showed just how much love and support Christy and Bonnie have to give to the world. But so much of their bond of love to this young woman happened off screen. It was a rushed development when Jody moved back in with her sister. It was an emotional high for Christy and Bonnie. They were really proud of the help they gave to Jody. After that, Jody was simply another member of the core group. She would pop up on a recurring basis just to show that she was still a part of this universe even though she was no longer in Christy and Bonnie's daily lives.

Jody's death is so tragic because of how sudden and unexpected it was. She was sober for six months. That's a huge achievement. It also seemed like she was heading on the same trajectory that Christy was in this part of her recovery. Jody wanted to start dating again. She had even found a new guy who was really supportive of the lifestyle she wanted to be living right now. Christy had her doubts about Jody dating so soon. She did make sure those concerns were heard. But Christy was also very preoccupied with Marjorie's wedding to help Jody when she needed it the most. Something happened that forced Jody to relapse. She was all alone as everyone was at the wedding. The details of her death are still very uncertain. Her boyfriend may have been a factor or he may have just discovered her body and that's it. But the emotion of the news is devastating to Christy, Bonnie, Jill and Wendy. It's a painful reminder of just how crippling and destruction this disease can really be.

Christy is also coming from a genuine place when she tells the girls to keep this tragic news from Marjorie until she returns from her honeymoon. It does somewhat feel like a wonky plot development. A way to create tension in the group as they all have to deal with this massive loss. But the way that it comes about is meaningful. Christy only gets the fateful phone call from the police after the ceremony is over. The four girls are enjoying the happiness and wondering which one of them will be next to walk down the aisle. It's devastating to Christy to learn that Jody has died. She just can't accept it. None of them can. Jody was so young. She had her entire life in front of her to do whatever because she was sober. This news shows just how quickly it can all be over. Christy doesn't want to take away from the joyous occasion of Marjorie getting married to Victor. She is still so happy for them. The girls will do their best to keep it together as they head out to pictures and the reception. This will serve as a reminder of just how devastating this addiction can really be. Hopefully, their grief won't force any of them to relapse or loss a friend. It could be just as devastating to Marjorie once she learns what has happened and that the girls kept it from her.

Jody's death is the thing that gives this episode an emotional and devastating final reveal. However, the majority of the episode is focused on Marjorie's wedding and Christy and Bonnie getting Victor's sister, Anya (Rhea Perlman), to the ceremony. It's a somewhat weird role for Perlman. It's very stiff and unnatural in the beginning. She plays it kinda broadly as Anya is surprised by just how wild Marjorie was in her youth. She is afraid that that person is still who Marjorie is today. She's afraid of the person her brother is marrying. She's trying to look out for him without getting to know who Marjorie is. Marjorie has changed the lives of so many people. Christy, Bonnie, Jill, Jody and Wendy are very appreciative of all that she has done for them. They are trying to give back to her now. That largely amounts to the farcical scene where Christy and Bonnie go over to Anya's grim house and get her drunk enough to attend the wedding. It's good for the punchline of Victor saying she can move in with him and Marjorie. But that's about it. It's not the best comedic storyline of the season. This season has been really funny too. It has finally nailed the balance of comedy and emotional drama on a consistent basis. It doesn't feel out of place when Christy answers the phone and learns of Jody's death after the hijinks at the bachelorette party and the wedding. It's all in the same tone. But the true greatness of this episode comes from that final reveal while the rest of the episode was much more pleasant and fun.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride" was directed by James Widdoes with story by Chuck Lorre, Marco Pennette, Adam Chase & Anne Flett-Giordano and teleplay by Eddie Gorodetsky, Gemma Baker & Alissa Neubauer.
  • The studio audience's reaction to Rhea Perlman the first time she appears is very weird. When the camera is in a wide shot, it seems like they don't really recognize her. Then, when it's more of a close-up, about half the room decides to applaud over who it is playing Victor's sister.
  • The "Previously on Mom" segment foreshadowed a little too much about Jody's pending death in the episode. It featured the scenes where a hungry Jody tells the group that her parents don't know she's alive and the later scene where she thanks Christy and Bonnie for literally saving her life.
  • There are some great answers to the trivia about Marjorie at her bachelorette party. But the best do come from Jody because she has no idea how old Marjorie really is. She just yells out The Beatles and Yoda!
  • Jody's death is even more tragic because she reached out to Christy and she was too busy with Anya to take the call and listen to what's going on. That's going to haunt Christy for a considerable amount of time.
  • Victor hid the engagement ring in the litter box for Marjorie's cats. He may not like the animals all that much but he does know just how important they are to her. So, it seems like they are a couple who can really last.
  • The group agrees that Christy is most likely to get married next. What do you think? She would really have to be in love this time for it to work. That's still in the realm of possibility though.