When Anna Faris was cast as the lead in Chuck Lorre's Mom on CBS, critics and fans alike were conflicted. Despite being a one-man hit machine, Lorre has an old-school, middlebrow style (see: Two and a Half Men) that has never been synonymous with the "smart" sitcom.
Meanwhile, Faris, although hilarious and endearing in films like The House Bunny and Waiting…, can't seem to land the star-making material she deserves. "I'm very familiar with the critical bash," the 36-year-old jokes. "When Chuck called and asked for a meeting…I was shitting my pants."
Lorre might be her improbably ideal Svengali: He cut his teeth as a writer on Roseanne, then created Grace Under Fire and Cybill—all shows about frustrated women giving their hard-knock lives the proverbial finger. Mom is nothing if not that: Faris plays a struggling single mother and recovering alcoholic who spars with her own screwed-up mom (Allison Janney). The series opens on Faris' character waitressing in a swank restaurant, mid-nervous-breakdown, discussing dinner specials through snot-and-tear-stained heaves. "I can be a total ham," she says. "I know it." But at the core of that broad, crowd-pleasing mugging is real anxiety and sincerity. "I just love playing really flawed people," Faris says. "I'm very flawed…please don't tell my husband."