Gone too soon, MOM—a gem of a series—wrapped up its eight-season run this week. It was a sweet ending, but left me feeling less than satisfied. Here’s why
It started in the AA group room, and ended there, with Wendy saying, “Who else would like to share,” which was incidentally the first and the last line of the series finale, albeit unintentionally. The intention was, however, to present a sense of the characters’ journeys going on, as life isn’t about everything getting tied up in neat, little bows. As series co-creator Gemma Baker said in an interview with TV Line, “…It didn’t feel accurate to wrap everything up with a happy ending, or tie it up all in a bow. That’s not life how works. In recovery, people have to face life on life’s terms. Some of the things that our characters are going to face are going to be happy and joyful, and some of them are going to be terrible, but they’re going to be able to face those things together.” I wouldn’t disagree with her, because it’s true. Particularly in a show like this, the idea of a typical ‘happily ever after’ would not really be fitting, because it’s about facing life’s constant, never-ending challenges, without being dependent on substances to help you cope.
So, sure… I wasn’t necessarily expecting so much of a grand finale that gave all the characters their happy endings. Aside from Jill being at that point where she was finally settling down (not that finding a man and expecting a child is everything, but it was something she’d said she wanted), no one really had that neatly tied bow. In fact, one could say, everyone already had their ‘happily ever after’ events prior to the finale. For Tammy, it was getting back on her feet and starting a successful business (her new boyfriend is just a new development; there’s nothing ‘final’ per se, about it). For Marjorie, it was being able to repair her relationship with her son and to be able to have one with her granddaughter. For Wendy…well, unfortunately, she’d never been given that much importance. We didn’t really see much of Wendy’s personal life. For Bonnie, it was way back when she married Adam. And then it was when she sent off Christy for her future, after the years that the mother and daughter had put in to rebuild their bond, making it a solid, healthy relationship. In fact, in theory, Christy leaving town to pursue higher education, new career and a new life would have been the perfect book-end for the series, after having fixed her relationship with her mom. The show did begin with Bonnie coming back into Christy’s life, back when Christy was the lead, and back when she hated Bonnie, and their relationship was a complete mess.
I’m not saying that the show should have ended with season seven. That would have been wrong, especially since we didn’t even get a good Christy farewell. What I am saying is that, just like there’s an inciting incident that marks the beginning of the story as being told to us, there should also be something that marks the end of story as being told to us. There should be a solid reason to stop telling us the characters’ stories—from a storytelling point of view. And that doesn’t mean neatly tied bows, or even ‘happily ever after’. It doesn’t even have to be directly connected with the beginning—certainly not with Violet and Roscoe, and all of that. Bonnie’s grandchildren haven’t really been a part of the show since season three. However, Christy was an integral part of the show almost throughout, even if she had shared the lead character spot with Bonnie for the most part of the series. And I think we needed to see her—or at least get more than a mere mention of her. Maybe there could have been a graduation for Christy down the road in an epilogue. Or maybe Bonnie and Adam had to move to the east coast for Adam’s treatment, which would also take them closer to Christy. Something like that would also appropriately book-end the chapters of these characters’ stories that we were being told to us, while also making it clear that life’s challenges were not ending, as life goes on.
In a way though, the series ender did celebrate how far these women had come from when we first saw them. Finding a sense of peace, after having survived the worst of their struggles with sobriety, is definitely some kind of closure, even if addiction recovery is life-long process. That peace is something these characters had already accomplished, so the finale was more to reinforce that they’d made it, in their own individual ways, and even together as friends. The newcomers Shannon and Jolene (Melanie Lynskey of TWO AND A HALF MEN, and Rondi Reed, of MIKE & MOLLY—both also Chuck Lorre shows) were a nice device to remind us where our main characters were when they hit rock bottom, and where they are now. Seeing Bonnie, Marjorie, Jill, Wendy and Tammy owning their past struggles with positivity, and having overcome them, to show these new women some hope for a better future, was sweet and funny even. I think in that sense it was a nice end, even if it wasn’t a perfect series finale. Despite life’s constant challenges, we know that these women will be alright.
Besides, by not giving the show a hard end, with complete finality, there’s scope for a potential revival down the road, seeing as how many shows get revivals and sequels these days.