It's time for your weekly reminder: CBS' "Mom" is taking creative risks that no other comedy on TV, especially no other multi-cam comedy on network TV, is even considering.
After tackling drug addiction, teen pregnancy, cancer and an assortment of other maladies and discomforts last season and delving into depression and economic hardship so far in Season 2, "Mom" delves into some of its darkest terrain with Monday's episode, "Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale," in which, as the title suggests, a group therapy session leads Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) to tell an acting-out Violet (Sadie Calvano) some distressing truths about her father. Long stretches of the episode play out in almost purely dramatic mode with nary a punchline.
But, as always seems to be the case on "Mom," if ever things get too somber, there's a corpse that "looked like a bean-bag chair in a nightgown," or an acerbic cut-down from the deservingly Emmy-toasted Janney.
That Janney and Faris have been able to sell the tonal rainbow that is "Mom" hasn't been a surprise. They were always the anchors for this Chuck Lorre show. The big surprise, especially since midseason last year and into this fall, has been Calvano, a 17-year-old actress whose most prominent credit before this was apparently "Melissa & Joey."
Last season, Calvano's Violet had to deal with comedic subplots -- Flatulence at prom is an issue if you're pregnant, apparently -- but also with the tough to decision to give up her baby to an adoptive couple. This season, things have gotten far murkier and I've been pretty reliably impressed by how effective Calvano has been in the raw, emotional moments.
Ahead of this week's admirable episode, I got on the phone with Calvano to discuss the challenges of "Mom," including how much she was prepared for when she signed on. We discussed the different on-set atmospheres for dramatic scenes versus comedy, as well as the influence of her two co-stars.
Check out the full Q&A below and check out "Mom" on Thursdays at 8:30 on CBS.