Mom Comes Together – And Then Falls Apart – In A Powerful Episode

Mom‘s ability to create genuinely heartwarming television in the traditional, multi-camera sitcom format is impressive – but it may be Mom‘s skill at creating truly devastating TV out of the same genre that makes it one of the best comedies to air on networks in the last decade. Mom is a very funny comedy, but its dedication to its characters and story allow it to deliver powerful arcs about loss; at its heart, Mom is about the fundamental struggles of change – and on a show about recovering addicts, those stories about loss can have serious, heartbreaking connotations.

“Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride” brings all of Mom‘s running stories from season three to a head in unexpected fashion: at Marjorie’s wedding, of all places for it to happen. And for 20 minutes, Mom basks in the joy of Marjorie and Viktor deciding to get married, an event occurring in the wake of Christy turning down the newly-sober, vulnerable Julian in last week’s episode. Christy’s still clearly affected by  the experience, warning Jodi to stay away from her new boyfriend, a young tattoo artist with a six-week sober chip in his pocket. The first act is really about aligning the generational bond between sponsors: Marjorie as Christy’s sponsor, and Christy as Jodi’s. All three of them were processing their own recent relationships, and fell into their typical roles: Marjorie’s was passionate (and a little dirty), Christy just wasn’t ready, and Jodi was being young, not thinking far enough ahead about her own sobriety.

The joy of Marjorie’s wedding to Viktor is an important emotional catapult for this episode: as Christy and Bonnie try to figure out how to get Anya (boy, it’s great to see Rhea Perlman) to the wedding of the “junkie whore” her brother was marrying, Mom turns “Diabetic Lesbians” into a bit of a somber celebration of love, reflecting not only on Marjorie’s happiness, but how long and arduous her journey to even let herself experience happiness again was – when feeling good is what ruins your entire life and nearly kills you, it can be hard to let oneself be vulnerable enough to feel it again, even in a completely different context. And that struggle informs Christy’s attempts to convince Jodi to stop seeing her new boyfriend in a powerful way: Christy and Bonnie both struggle to date given how their life and relationships have gone, constantly grasping at straws in their attempts to stop fearing the power of their own emotions.

So when Christy finds out she failed to get through to Jodi, and she’d died in her new boyfriend’s bathroom of an overdose, Mom shifts from the pleasant, happy scene of Anya drunk in the front pier of the wedding ceremony, to harrowing darkness. Death is certainly something Mom has explored – and explored in devastating fashion – in the past, but bringing it to the deepest core of the show’s stories about addiction delivers one of the most powerful punches in the show’s history. This isn’t a story that tangentially affects each character; this directly affects everyone in the women’s AA group, an event that effectively shatters the modest, delicate happiness each character had carved out in the beginning of season three.

The news of Jodi’s death is a major shift for Mom‘s third season, presenting its characters with a challenge so many people face every single day. How does one pick up the pieces of someone’s lost potential? How does her sponsor deal with the failure of not convincing her to stay sober? How the hell does Marjorie get on that Alaskan cruise without her brother’s sister tagging along? Ok, that last question isn’t important, but those first two – those are such heartbreaking thoughts to feel, and it’s something thousands upon thousands of people have to deal with every day. Never has the struggle to stay sober hit so hard on an episode of Mom; even through gambling habits, relapses, and and any number of broken relationships, Mom hasn’t delivered a gut shot quite like this one, and it will be fascinating to see how “Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride” reforms Mom‘s third season in its wake.

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