Follow TV Tropes


Series / Mom

Go To
Mommy dearest...

Mom is a Chuck Lorre-produced sitcom on CBS that debuted during the 2013–14 TV season. It stars Anna Faris as Christy and Allison Janney as Bonnie, Christy's mother, and revolves around two substance abusers and trying to rebuild their broken relationship and maintain their sobriety while dealing with all sorts of other issues life throws at them such as Christy's daughter Violet being pregnant at 17 years old, just like Christy and Bonnie before her. In 2020, it was announced that Faris was leaving the series. The series ended on May 13th, 2021 after eight seasons.

Allison Janney won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her portrayal of Bonnie.

Not ever to be confused with the dark horror-comedy about a son who deals with a mother turned into a werewolf, starring the late Jeanne Bates.

The show includes examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Bonnie's Imagine Spot in "Pure Evil and a Free Piece of Cheesecake" has her doing a Walk and Talk through the White House with a staffer played by Richard Schiff, Allison Janney's former The West Wing costar.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • The restaurant staff were featured less and less as the series went on. Gabriel was fired as manager, partway through season 2. Chef Rudy and the rest of the staff followed suit shortly into season 3.
    • Luke only appears in the first few episodes of season 2, but is credited as a regular throughout.
    • Christy's children have moved out by Season 3 (Roscoe going to live permanently with his father and the latter's girlfriend, and Violet moving in with her professor) and only make occasional appearances, but continue to be prominently featured in the title sequence until the end of Season 4.
  • The Alcoholic: Christy and Bonnie are substance abusers in recovery. Alcohol was just one of their many vices.
  • Almighty Janitor: Bonnie becomes a building manager in Season 2. She's incompetent at the job, but it gets the family a new apartment after they're evicted from Christie's house, and she has all her tenants kowtowing to her after she reveals that she knows everyone's dirty secrets and won't hesitate to make them public if the tenants try to get her fired.
  • Amicable Exes: Christy and Baxter get along fairly well, even though Baxter lives out of a van and is perpetually late with his child support payments. When he does manage to pay her, she'll cheerfully have casual sex with him. It helps that, in spite of his shortcomings, Baxter is an attentive father to Roscoe and shows concern for Violet even though she's not his biological daughter, and that Christy's rampant substance abuse prior to the beginning of the series makes him look a little less bad.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: How Bonnie talks Christy into letting Violet go through with the adoption. Christy is dragging her feet, thinking this child can be their make up for where they went wrong with Violet. Bonnie asks her what they'll do if they make the same mistakes. We are treated to a hilarious Imagine Spot of four generation of Plunketts absolutely miserable with this child being a teenage mom as well. As they take her to the hospital for delivery, Future!Bonnie quips to a now morbidly obese Christy that maybe this will be their make up baby.
  • Artifact Title: An example where the show gradually slides into this trope more and more as time goes on. The beginning of the series focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter Bonnie and Christy, both substance abusers and teenage mothers, as well as Christy's strained relationships with her own children - prepubescent Roscoe and high schooler Violet. Violet turns out to be pregnant at the beginning of the series, seemingly setting herself up to follow in her mother and grandmother's footsteps, though in the second season, she gives her baby up for adoption. Over the next two seasons, Roscoe and Violet both move out from Bonnie and Christy's home and fade from relevance, as the show focuses increasingly on Bonnie and Christy's misadventures and friends from their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, though Bonnie and Christy's relationship remains a key focus of the show. By season 8, Christy leaves the show due to the departure of her actress Anna Faris, and this trope has taken full effect.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Nearly all of the struggles Christy goes through to become a lawyer don't make much sense for a show explicitly set in California, which does not even require law school for someone to take the bar exam. In theory, Christy could have just stayed Steve's apprentice for seven years and she would have qualified to take the exam.
    • The California bar exam is notoriously one of the most difficult in all of the US, with only a fifty per cent pass rate for people who went to law school. Out of all the people who "read the law," only a very small number actually pass the bar.
  • Ascended Extra: Jill and Wendy were both minor characters at the meetings when they first appeared, but as their friendship with the Plunketts grew they were eventually promoted to regulars in season 3.
  • The Atoner: Deconstructed with Christy & Violet's relationship. Christy is genuinely remorseful for how she treated Violet, and tries to be a better mother. Violet abuses this to push her around and blame her for everything, and Christy lets her out of guilt. Despite her best efforts, Violet continues to hold her mistakes over her head no matter how many things she does right and how obvious it is Violet's own poor decisions are just as much the reason her life is the way it is. By Season 4, Christy realizes that she has to drop this or else Violet will remain the same person she is for the rest of her life. Even when Violet finally shapes up, relatively speaking, she still refuses to forgive Christy, but at least this time, is upfront about it rather than holding the false hope of forgiveness over Christy's head.
  • Best Friend: Bonnie and Christy share one in Marjorie. What makes it rather unique is the fact both mother and daughter have same best friend.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Roscoe, being the youngest, is the most innocent member of the cast but can be quite intimidating when he gets angry.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Jill lives in a luxurious mansion that her friends regularly get lost in.
    • After getting thrown out of their first apartment, Christy and Bonnie are given the chance to own a big house (with a Jacuzzi) at a very good deal...because the previous owners were murdered (along with their dog), which makes them all paranoid. By the end of the episode, they all are chased out from the luxurious house once they see the murderer show up outside and return to live with Marjorie again. They never find out it was Marjorie who dressed up as the murderer so she wouldn't feel alone in her house.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Bonnie was a neglectful Addled Addict, Alvin abandoned Christy, Christy followed in Bonnie’s footsteps, Violet is showing early signs of going in the same direction, Violet’s father was abusive, Roscoe’s father is a loser stoner turned Henpecked Husband, and Bonnie’s brother is also an addict with no intention of quitting.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: When Christy is hospitalized with pneumonia in "A Catheter and a Dipsy-Doodle," she quips that Bonnie is a "big bully" after being forced to lie down. Justified since she was feverish and loopy.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • For Christie: she gets an early one at the end of Season 7 when she finally gets to go to law school in the East Coast, but doing so leaves Bonnie and the rest behind, though they understand that it's for the best.
    • For Bonnie: she goes through hoops and loops trying to adjust her life without her daughter, and despite learning about Adam having an early but treatable stage of lung cancer, she doesn't resort to relapsing and is finally happy to declare that she's a grateful alcoholic.
    • For the rest, who lean very much on sweet: Jill and Andy marry and expect a child in the future, which is something Jill had worked so hard for and had discarded as an impossibility in earlier seasons. Marjorie is overjoyed to know that her estranged son forgave her for her alcoholic past and nominated her as a community hero for Napa Valley. Tammy starts a new truck contractor business with Bonnie (PlunkenDorf). Wendy...pretty much stays the same in her stable life though she does get promoted at work.
  • Bratty Food Demand: En route to Reno in "Phone Confetti and a Wee Dingle Script", Christy notices a Dairy Queen off the highway and chants, "DQ! DQ! DQ!" until Bonnie pulls over.
  • Bullet Dancing: Bonnie reveals in one episode that she tried this on Alvin during a fight, the end result was that she accidentally shot off his pinky toe.
  • Butt-Monkey: Christy is #1 with a bullet, but sometimes Bonnie gets it too.
  • Cassandra Truth: Christy wins enough money through gambling to pay off her and Bonnie's mortgage and then is robbed. When she tries to tell Bonnie what happened, Bonnie doesn't believe her.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Bonnie's raison d'etre.
  • Comically Missing the Point: One of the schticks of Luke's character, a combination of his being high and not being particularly bright in the first place.
  • Continuity Drift: Early in the series, several references were made to Bonnie's multiple stints in prison, including being in prison while Christy was dating Violet's abusive father. After Tammy is introduced, Bonnie's time in prison is never mentioned again, and everyone acts like Marjorie is the only one that can relate to Tammy because she spent time in prison for bank robbery.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Marjorie has eight cats that she dotes on. It's implied that she mothers them because her son refuses to have anything to do with her in light of her alcohol and drug filled past.
  • Deceptive Legacy: Christy kept Violet in the dark about her father's identity for years until Bonnie tells her he was abusive, and how Christy had to leave him to save her and Violet's lives. They brings Violet to a grave to talk about wanting to put it totally behind her and let it stay buried and Violet accepts that. As she walks off, Bonnie asks Christy "So, who the hell is James Sudcliff?"; Violet's dad is still alive but Christy much prefers she think him dead.
    • Bonnie and Tammy were in a foster home together, and when they go to make reparations to the family for their various screwups, Bonnie is convinced that their foster mother still hates her after more than forty years. She dotes on Tammy and is noticeably cooler toward Bonnie, if polite. Then she reveals the truth about Tammy's family that Bonnie never knew: Tammy's father murdered her mother.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Alvin, Christy's father and Bonnie's true love, abandoned them right after Christy was born. Christy tracks Alvin down years later and after a rocky introduction, Alvin decides that he should try and make an effort to get to know Christy and her family, even introducing Christy to her half-brothers. Unfortunately for Alvin, the decision ends up costing him his current marriage.
    • There is no mention of Violet's father until Bonnie reveals that he used to beat Christy until she left him.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Christy's boyfriend and Marjorie's nephew is a sympathetic modernized version of this trope. Christy is interested, and he is a nice guy; he's just unhealthily attached to her, and Christy can't get rid of him. Marjorie explains that his behavior is due to a mental illness for which he's been getting treatment for most of his life. She promises Christy he's not dangerous, and she just needs to be clear it's over and be patient while he figures it out.
  • Dope Slap: In "Cornbread and a Cashmere Onesie", Bonnie gives one of these to Marjorie after unknowingly giving Jill the idea to have a baby while volunteering at a soup kitchen.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: In "Hot Soup and Shingles," Baxter's claim that you're less likely to get hurt if you're not sober is scientifically accurate. He even points out the reason for that: you don't tense up, so you're less likely to get injured.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In ''Cornbread and a Cashmere Onesie", after Jill has a small breakdown during an AA meeting talking about the anniversary of her mother's suicide, Bonnie then takes her turn to talk, complains about missing the delivery guy for two minutes to stand in line a long time at the post office to claim her delivery, and casually comments about wanting to kill herself. The women look at her horrified.
  • Double Entendre: Bonnie and Chef Rudy go on a date an proceed to have an incredibly thinly-veiled innuendo-laced conversation about flavor combinations.
    Bonnie: Cherry? Squirt? Fleshy? You can't help yourself, can you?
    Chef Rudy: It's very hard.
    And a little later:
    Bonnie: Mmm... it's not sweet like a tomato or sour like vinegar...
    Chef Rudy: Exactly. It's a third thing that didn't exist until one was driven deep inside the other. And yes, I know what I just said.
  • Dysfunction Junction: In addition to the Big, Screwed-Up Family (see above), all of the women in AA are sober now because of the hurtful and self-destructive things they did while drunk or high.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In later episodes, Bonnie and Christie couldn't afford to go to the bistro without Jill footing the bill...despite the fact they've been going there since the pilot (and before they made friends with any of the AA women.) To make it more confusing, this happens after both of Christy's kids leave home.
  • Embarrassing Voicemail: In one episode, Christy leaves a particularly awkward voicemail for Violet.
    Christy: It's me, your mom. Uh... so, doot-dah-doo... That's the weird thing. So, heard your podcast. Would love to chitty-chat about that. Or anything. I haven't talked to you in such a long time. Of course, I'm not the one who changed her number. But not pointing fingers. Doot-dah-doo. Hey, good news. I'm in law school now. Yep. Learnin' about torts. Turns out they're not just dessert. Okay, well, uh... it's me, your mom, Christy.
  • Evolving Credits: Multiple times: The final picture in the first episode's title sequence shows Christy with a dour-looking Violet and Roscoe. The second episode adds Bonnie to that picture, reflecting her re-entering their lives. The first few episodes of the second season has the family temporarily homeless - instead of sitting on a table in Christie's living room, the pictures can be seen lying outdoors on the tops of moving boxes. After they move into Bonnie's new apartment, the title sequence changes again. In season 5, the title sequence changes to feature photos of Marjorie, Jill and Wendy, removing Violet and Roscoe. In season 6, the title sequence ends on the five friends taking a selfie, which forms the final picture, and in season 7, Tammy is added.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Whenever Christy and Bonnie's shared past is brought up, it's usually accompanied by a Noodle Incident story that shows just how checkered Bonnie's past is and that it's a miracle that Christy is as well-adjusted as she is.
    • Marjorie was apparently quite the hell-raiser before she became sober, including time spent in prison. According to her, she had her own harem and would have been tough enough to completely dominate Bonnie before she got sober and became the matronly figure on the show.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: One episode has one of Christy's old classmates eating at the Rustic Fig where she works. The two apparently had a past where Christy slept with her boyfriend. Christy apologizes vehemently, and the classmate forgives her. Relieved, Christy reassures her that her boyfriend had slept with far more than just her and still sleeps around. Right on cue, her husband walks in, revealing Christy had been Easily Forgiven because she had forgiven him as well and gotten married. Luckily for Christy, the classmate is furious with her husband not her, but Christy is still clearly guilty for having inadvertently just ruined a marriage.
  • Exposition Already Covered: A recurring element in the show is starting episodes at an AA meeting and having Christy, Bonnie, and/or someone else explain something that happened offscreen that serves as the catalyst for the episode's plot.
  • Faking the Dead: Played for Drama: In order to prevent Violet from locating her father, Christy takes her to a graveyard and claims he was a guy by the name of "James Sutcliffe" and that he had died several years prior.
  • Flush the Evidence: When Bonnie and Christy find Ray's drugs in his car, they flush them down the toilet, causing it to back up.
    Bonnie: How about that, after all these years the toilet is throwing up on us.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes : Bonnie is barely tolerated because of her insufferable personality and lack of self-awareness (bordering on narcissism). Wendy is also often the Butt-Monkey, due to her tendency to cry. A lot.
  • Foreshadowing: In one episode, Tammy says that Chef Rudy is the kind of mistake you only make three times. Careful viewers will note she's only made that "mistake" twice at the time she says it. By the end of the episode, she's made it a third time.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If Victor's sister had simply accepted Marjorie in spite of her shaky past, Christy would've had the time to take Jodi's call. If she had taken Jodi's call, she would've known Jodi was considering breaking her sobriety under her boyfriend's suggestion and told her not to, which would've saved her life.
  • Gag Haircut: In "A Safe Word and a Rib Eye", Christy tries to cut her own bangs, forcing her to hide the result with a cap. She's back to normal by the next episode.
  • Generation Xerox: Bonnie was the start of a looong unfortunate family tradition of getting drunk, smoking weed, getting pregnant during teenage years (and being born to a teenage mother herself), and overall making life for the next generation miserable. However, each generation gets slightly better - while Bonnie bounced around the foster care system, Christie grew up with Bonnie (which admittedly wasn't great). While Violet (and Roscoe) grew up impacted by Christie's substance abuse, their childhood still ended up being somewhat more stable than hers, and Violet eventually breaks the cycle by giving up her daughter to an adoptive couple, attending college, while Roscoe moves in with Baxter and Candace, flourishing in school.
    • Candace's father is a well-meaning person to anyone who isn't his own daughter, whom he treats like crap even though he spoiled her with anything she wanted. His daughter is just like him towards Christy. It was his lousy attitude in raising Candace that makes Christy dump him.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Bonnie gets visited by her bad self (dressed as a biker) and her good self (dressed as Glinda the Good Witch of the North) while recovering from her second relapse. After their arguing upsets Bonnie, they are shooed away by Jesus.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: The episodes that dealt with Bonnie trying to help her brother stop doing drugs gives out two:
    • When it comes to those with addictions, ultimately it's their choice whether they want to get clean or not. Even if friends and family want them to stop, they really can't force them.
    • It's better to let go of those who choose to continue with their addiction for your own health and mentality.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: When Christy gets angry at a rude salesperson, she starts stealing from her store as payback. She keeps going until Marjorie relates a similar story that makes her feel bad. She goes back to the store and returns the items, apologizing. The salesperson accepts... only to pick up the phone to call the police, as Christy committed a crime.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Christy's childhood was spent being dragged and abandoned all around the Americas as Bonnie engaged in all sorts of borderline and outright illegal activities. It's all Played for Laughs, but it was pretty much inevitable that Christy would fall into self-destructive habits.
    • Violet and Roscoe, though to a much lesser degree than Christy's, were this as well before Christy went sober.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Everything seems to be going right for the Plunketts when Bonnie and Christy's father Alvin rekindle their romance. He has moved into an apartment in their complex, started to form a relationship with Violet and Roscoe, and plans to add them to his will. Before the episode is half over, Alvin has a heart attack and passes away.
    • Christy manages to turn around Jodi note 's life (and the latter becomes friends with the gang and joins in on their little get-togethers. She also manages to get a job as a barista and gets into a relationship with another recovering addict who had been clean for six weeks, though that was the only worrying point Christy had for her about her new decisions. To the absolutely crushing blow to everyone who knew Jodi, she died offscreen from drug overdose while the women were attending Marjorie's wedding.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Two of Allison Janney's former The West Wing costars, Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, have appeared on the show; the former as Adam's friend Mitch, and the latter in Bonnie's Imagine Spot about being President, complete with Walk and Talk.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title follows the pattern "[noun/phrase] and [noun/phrase]" (ie "Zombies and Cobb Salad" or "Crazy Eyes and a Wet Brad Pitt"). The title may or may not give hint to what the episode is about, but each phrase occurs within the story at some point. Often said by one of the characters but sometimes just as a story issue.
  • Inelegant Blubbering:
    • This is Christie's Establishing Character Moment in the pilot. A restaurant goer tells her she's a good waitress, and she begins crying uncontrollably with the realization of how dead-end her life is.
    • Christie does this again in "Atticus Finch and the Downtrodden" two seasons later, when she learns how much it's going to cost to go to law school.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Defied by Marjorie. Christy starts dating her nephew Nick against her wishes. When Marjorie explains his increasingly erratic behavior to the fact he's been in a mental hospital most of his life, Bonnie worries Christy might be in danger. Marjorie assures her he's safe; he just doesn't have the best understanding of healthy boundaries.
  • Insistent Terminology: Christy did not gamble away the rent money because that would imply that at some point they had enough to pay rent.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Bonnie leaves out the fact she hadn't filed for taxes for 20 years. Thankfully, she and Christy manage to find a good lawyer to come to a middle ground.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Bonnie, Christy, Jill and Wendy eat Adam's cookies without knowing that they had marijuana in them. Christy freaks out because she thinks she'd lost her sobriety, but Marjorie tells her that since they took it accidentally, their sobriety is intact.
  • Jerkass: Chef Rudy is extremely blunt and doesn't care who he insults/hurts/offends/etc. and he has yet to exhibit any redeeming qualities.
    • Violet has seen so many bad acts from her mother before she went sober that most of the time she blames Christy on stuff that could have been avoided if Violet had done something herself or if she was the only one who could do it. Trying to be sober herself is one such thing.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bonnie isn't the easiest person to get along with and there is the genuine possibility she will shoot someone who pisses her off enough, not to mention the fact that she was a horrible mother when Christy was a child. But she does genuinely care for those in her life, although that part of her is buried beneath a significant layer of snark.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When Marjorie is about to tell Christy about her nephew's mental health problems, she says the grammatically incorrect "an... facility". This implies she was going to say "an institution", but decided facility was a Less Embarrassing Term to be sensitive to his mental health issues.
  • Little "No": This is Bonnie's reaction when she and the others find out about Jodi's fatal overdose.
  • Lives in a Van: Baxter lives in a red car. When Christy comments that it's being towed, he runs out muttering about his cleaning lady still being in there.
  • Living Prop: Deconstructed when Mary dies. No one noticed her having her aneurysm because they're so used to having her in the background. While they're reassured that it was so bad that early intervention wouldn't have saved her, the group feels devastated that they took her for granted that they try to make it up to her posthumously by helping her kids.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Invoked by Bonnie as being one of the benefits of having a child at an incredibly young age. She used to pass Christy off as her own sister. Christy really does look young enough to pass for Violet's older sister, but acknowledges that she's a mother.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Bonnie, Christy, and Violet all blame their mothers for everything that has gone wrong in their life.
    • When Tammy is first introduced, she blames Bonnie for her ending up in prison.
    • Bonnie never takes responsibility for the hurtful things she has done, though sometimes her defenses crumble and she shows that she really does feel horrible for the things she did that hurt people.
    • Both Adam and Patrick initially blame each other for their estrangement.
    • Alvin blamed Bonnie for raising Christy to be a criminal. When Bonnie pointed out that he abandoned Christy, Alvin responds by pointing out that the waiter wasn't there when Christy was growing up either, but he's not responsible for how Christy turned out.
  • Nice Guy: Christy meets an attractive neighbor named Andy who seems a little too good to be a highly sociable man with no negatives and falls for him, until her paranoia kicks in and pushes her to inspect his house for anything that may be extremely incriminating. To her relief, she finds out he's pretty clean. To her absolute horror, she ends up finding a room full with bondage material, and he shows up with a collar on his neck, ready to act like a dog for her. Horrified, she flees his house quickly.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Strangely lampshaded and justified at the same time. Baxter has every reason to want nothing to do with Candace as despite her riches and beauty, is very commandeering and micromanaging. Many characters, frequently Christy out of jealousy, wonder why he is married to her. Likewise, Baxter is an average looking recovering drug addict with no marketable skills and could easily do better. Despite this, the two stay married for the long haul for what's explained to be Candace liking Baxter because she can mold him into her ideal husband and Baxter admitted to like her type, pointing out Christy treated him no different when they were married. On Baxter's end, her wealth is the best thing he has going for him to secure him and Roscoe a better future, and he puts the work in to ensure he can maintain that lifestyle.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • As the manager of the restaurant, Christy imposes a more friendly management than the previous manager. This somehow causes problems as everyone gets freedom to do less work and makes the restaurant fall apart. She then gets advice from the previous manager that she has to be a Drill Sergeant Nasty manager to keep the order. The restaurant is saved, but now everyone there hates Christy, much to her chagrin.
    • Regina offers to pay off Christy's debts with her stolen money, citing that the feds will just seize it anyways and they'll never find it since it's only a small fraction of what she stole. Christy turns it down deciding to learn from her own mistakes. Some misfortune towards the end of the season puts the Plunketts in a financial hole so bad that they get evicted.
  • Noodle Incident: Hoo boy... due to the main plot of the show consisting of a handful of characters who all struggle with addiction and therefore have to endure some rather wild situations before hitting Rock Bottom and entering recovery, this show has them in spades, to the extent it might surpass The Golden Girls for most Noodle Incidents per capita. For one example, Bonnie apparently has a rap sheet in California, Arizona, West Virginia and somehow Micronesia.
    • Wendy always brings something new to the table when the attention isn't on her.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Violet's teacher's mother utterly makes fun of everyone and her own son when she's invited over for dinner at Christy's house. She's presented with many opportunities to grill them all.
  • Off the Wagon:
    • Happened to Bonnie twice. The first when she lost her job and got drunk. The next happened when she took prescription pain killers.
    • Happened to Jill in season 5. After losing weight and finding it hard not to over eat, her health guru advised a "take a little bit and stop" approach. Unfortunately Jill tried it on alcohol and became drunk.
    • Marjorie mentioned how her own sponsor lost her sobriety of 52 after a dispute with her neighbor.
    • Christy goes back and forth with gambling and smoking. True to an addict's pattern of denial, she doesn't think gambling and smoking are as bad as her other addictions.
  • Old Maid: In "Horny-Goggles and a Catered Intervention", the women all tell stories about how they all have gone far in their lives without a boyfriend. Then they go to the usual restaurant and hesitate in eating a literal Christmas cake (the previous name for the trope), with Bonnie saying eating from it means they all give up.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In-universe, Chef Rudy has a working-class Boston background but uses a generic accent to hide his humble origins. He reverts to his Boston accentnote  when Bonnie tortures him and he's too distraught to maintain the façade.
    Chef Rudy: "Hahd to chahge sixty bucks for lobstah chowda with capers."
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In "Figgy Pudding and the Rapture" when a police raid takes place in the motel the Pucketts are staying, the normally self-centered Bonnie immediately ushers Roscoe and Violet to the floor while shots are fired; even shielding them with her own body!
  • Out of Focus: The show originally gave equal focus to Christy's home and work life. Then plots started focusing more and more on the Plunketts' family dynamics and the restaurant cast was quietly dropped by the end of Season 1. By the end of Season 2, the show's focus shifted again to Christy and Bonnie's support group and Christy's children were mostly written out by the start of Season 3. By season 5, this was reflected by the title sequence, with Violet and Roscoe removed and replaced by Marjorie, Jill and Wendy.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Marjorie provides a maternal figure to Christy, to Bonnie's intense dislike. Bonnie eventually comes to see Marjorie as a mother to herself (compared to her own mother, not that Bonnie would ever admit it to Marjorie).
    • Bonnie becomes one to Violet and Roscoe in the pilot to weasel her way back into Christy's life (while insisting that she be called (Aunt) Bonnie because she doesn't want to feel old). She keeps it up, however, out of a genuine wish to help Christy and her family and even accepts being called 'Grandma'. The lessons Bonnie pass on tend to be questionable, thoughnote .
    • Christy and Bonnie become to Jodi, a recovering addict. They actually do a pretty good job helping her get her life back in track.
  • Pest Episode: One episode has Christy try to catch a cricket which was bothering her. Bonnie catches it in the end.
  • Pet the Dog: Violet reads Christy the riot act after losing their house and forcing them to squat Marjorie's home. Before she leaves them, however, Violet does genuinely thank Marjorie for her hospitably and gives Bonnie a heartfelt goodbye.
  • Practically Different Generations: Bonnie's half-brother Ray is fifteen years younger than her. Since Bonnie was a teen mom, this means that her brother is approximately the same age as her daughter.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Marjorie, Wendy and Jill are added to the title sequence in season 5 (replacing Violet and Roscoe); Tammy is added in season 7.
  • Promotion to Parent: Christy finds out that because of her years of substance abuse and continued self-absorption (even in the wake of her sobriety), Violet has assumed the role of mothering Roscoe and does an incredibly good job at it.
  • Put on a Bus: After Anna Faris left the show, Christy was written off by sending her to study law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The season eight premiere opens on Bonnie just having left her at the airport.
  • Realism-Induced Horror: A rare In-Universe example happens in the Season 2 premiere. Christy is bussing a table and sees someone didn't finish their wine. Without thinking, she downs the remainder breaching her sobriety. Figuring she can't unbreach it now, she gets absolutely plastered and tries to have sex with her coworkers and outs several to ICE agents having dinner. Luckily, it turns out to be All Just a Dream, but Christy is haunted at the thought of all her hard work the past year amounting to nothing.
  • Really Gets Around: Christy, before she got sober, and Bonnie, for whom it doesn't matter if she's sober or not. Even while sober, Christy can revert back to this in her lower moments.
    • Chef Rudy likes to sleep around and by what he says on the show, his tastes are... eclectic.
  • Recovered Addict: The show begins with protagonist Christy and her mother Bonnie, two heavy substance abusers, deciding to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Though they face temptation along the way, their sobriety largely sticks. Eventually, the show comes to also focus on the struggles of friends they make in AA, including Marjorie, Wendy and Jill.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Wendy, who made previous appearances but never interacted with the main characters, is suddenly thrust into the forefront during the arc about Bonnie's second relapse and everyone acts as if she was always part of the group.
    • Marjorie qualifies as well, having been as bad as Bonnie in her drunken days.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Jill, the recovering addict socialite. She's basically Christy but way more lost in sense and richer.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • In Season 1, Bonnie ends up drunk and loses her job, spiraling her into having a mental breakdown that drives Christy crazy. It was so bad she apologized a lot and pretended to work at the restaurant (while still being a mess).
    • After Alvin dies, Bonnie has a real hard time letting go that she steals his remains and treats it like a living person. Then she steals his portrait and has dinner with it.
  • Silent Snarker: Paul, Chef Rudy's main assistant, hasn't said a word so far but says more with a single expression than most characters can with pages of dialogue.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Bonnie and Marjorie to each other. It's gotten better over the years, but they still mostly dislike each other.
  • The Stoner: A good chunk of the characters smoke weed. While the show doesn't take much a moral stance for or against it, it does highlight the stupid and/or dangerous things people can do while high and how such behavior can anger/annoy those who don't partake.
    • Luke smokes, although it's implied that it's as much recreational as it is to try and cope with his overbearing father. It's also shown that being perpetually high doesn't do him any favors. With or without the pot, however, he is a good-natured, but extremely dim, goof.
    • Baxter sees being high as a good thing, even when it comes to issues of personal safety. Baxter, however, eventually quits smoking weed and generally cleans up his act when he gets together with a woman from a fairly wealthy family. Violet notes that he seems more intelligent now that he's not toking.
    Baxter: "Never fall sober! You tense up!"
    Christy: "Thanks for the tip."
    Baxter: "It's a scientific fact: you can't get hurt when you're high. I don't make the rules!"
    • Marijuana is probably the least of Chef Rudy's vices, as the show reveals that he takes and deals in a wide variety of substances and sexual fetishes. The substance abuse element of Rudy's character is Truth in Television for many people trying to cope in the incredibly stressful food industry.
    • Adam, Bonnie's boyfriend in season 3, keeps a jar of pot cookies hidden. Bonnie finds it and shares them with Christy, Jill and Wendy without knowing what they are.
  • Studio Audience: This show is a shining example of what traditional multi-cam sitcoms with studio audiences are capable of in an age when they're regarded as old-fashioned and trite. The scripts and actors often play emotional scenes to the hilt, instead of veering off into a punchline for a laugh. At these moments, the studio audience is audibly uncomfortable with what they're watching, not knowing if they should laugh, cry, or applaud, reflecting how viewers at home feel. You'll often hear conflicting responses from the audience, with one part chuckling uncomfortably while another let out gasps and groans of sympathy for the characters.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The show goes to great lengths to show that life can be unfair, and that there are people who can relapse or showing that forgiveness never comes easy. That no matter how hard you try or how much you love a person that sometimes they will disappoint you. For as many happy endings that occur in the series there are often just as many sad endings for Christy and Co. For example:
    • Ray Stabler, Bonnie’s half brother ends up falling into a Cocaine addiction. Despite knowing the tools to help him, Bonnie can’t force him into accepting help for his problem. Ray never acknowledges he has a problem and leaves the show with his fate unknown but showing him leaving Bonnie seemingly for good.
    • The show ends without Christie and Violet ever making up. Despite trying her best to salvage their relationship Christie doesn’t succeed. Instead Violet doesn’t want to be involved with Christie anymore, and ultimately finds herself happier and more successful without Christie. Likewise, Violet refuses to ever admit to how horribly she treated Christy in her genuine efforts to better herself. Very often when both sides are at fault, one party will just take an apology as a full admission of guilt and learn nothing.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: The reason Christy and Baxter broke up was that Baxter cheated on Christy with her best friend. She eventually forgives him, claiming she treated him horribly during her stint with drugs and alcohol.
  • Team Mom: Marjorie, being considerably older than the rest of the cast, and always the one to be relied upon to give good advice.
  • Technology Marches On: invoked When Bonnie's ex-husband gets to live across their apartment, he gives a walkie-talkie to his grandchild Roscoe. Roscoe wonders why he didn't give him a smartphone instead.
  • Teen Pregnancy: One of the overarching plots of the first season is Violet's unexpected pregnancy and how she has to come to grips with the impact it has on her goals. To an equal extent, this is what changed her mother's and grandmother's lives forever.
  • Theme Naming: All of Marjorie's cats are named after famous musicians from The '60s.
  • Those Two Guys: Chef Rudy and Paul take on this role in any scene taking place in the restaurant's kitchen, with Rudy providing the zinger while Paul drives it in further with his facial expressions.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Bonnie and Chef Rudy have a one night stand and Bonnie is then given the brush off through Christy. Keen to get revenge, Bonnie realizes that Chef Rudy would probably take pleasure in any physical pain she might inflict so she decides to take her anger out on his incredibly expensive wine collection instead. It still ends up arousing the both of them.
  • Troll: Bonnie loves to mess with people she takes a disliking to, even if it means interfering with Christy's sincere attempts at bridge building.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • In "Cornbread and a Cashmere Onesie", on the 20th anniversary of her mother's suicide, Jill is feeling depressed, so Marjorie tries to get her out of it by encouraging her to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but shocks everyone when Jill decides she wants to have a baby. Christy makes things worse when she tries to talk Jill out of it, and does so in a way that leads Jill to say "I never want to speak to you again".
    • In "Phone Confetti and a Wee Dingle", Bonnie and Adam originally had plans to go to Reno, but upon hearing that Christy's ex-boyfriend, his brother Patrick, just got engaged, he instead suggests that Bonnie help Christy take her mind off of things by going on a relaxing trip to a spa. Unfortunately during a stop to Dairy Queen, a police officer arrests Bonnie for for having over $2000 in unpaid parking tickets after noticing there are no license plates on the car all because Christy forgot to renew them in the first place.
    • And then the sheriff sends Christy to an ATM... at a casino.
  • Visual Innuendo: Bonnie, while visiting Marjorie and her many cats, holds a fuzzy white cat between her legs to depict how a much older member of their AA meetings looks while wearing a miniskirt sans underwear.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Bonnie and Marjorie will inevitably start sniping at one another, but they find enjoyment in the mutual snarking and Bonnie does provide genuine, though hilariously inappropriate, support during Marjorie's cancer fight.
    • Bonnie and Regina are also an example, although their altercations have actually become physical.
  • Walk and Talk: Bonnie lampshades this in "Pure Evil and a Free Piece of Cheesecake" during her Imagine Spot when she asks her staffer why they always do that, so they briefly stop to talk and realize that it's boring.
  • Wedding/Death Juxtaposition: Marjorie and Victor get married and the others notice that Jodi, the newest member of the support group, is nowhere to be seen. Christy gets a call from her after the ceremony, but a police officer is on the other end instead. It turns out that Jodi relapsed and died from an overdose.
  • Wham Line:
    • Two fold in "Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale":
      • When Violet keeps demanding to know about her father during a therapy session, Bonnie decides to tell her about him:
        Bonnie: (to Violet) You wanna know the truth?
        Christy: Mom!
        Bonnie: (ignores Christy; aggressively) Your father used to beat the crap out of my daughter. He sent her to the ER twice. I seriously doubt you'd be happier living with him!
      • When Violet, despite learning that, still wants to know his side, Christy decides to take her to the graveyard where he is buried and explain exactly how bad their relationship was. When Violet, stunned, goes back to the car, Bonnie approaches Christy and, after wrapping an arm around her shoulder, looks at the gravestone:
        Bonnie: So... who the hell is James Sudcliff?
        Christy: No idea. But I'd rather Violet think Butch is dead than ever go look for that monster.
    • In "Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride", Christy, Bonnie, Jill and Wendy have a bombshell dropped on them when the former receives a phone call from Jodi after Marjorie and Victor's wedding.
      Christy: (answering her cellphone) Hey, Jodi, where are you? You missed the ceremony. Yeah, this is Christy Plunkett, who's this? …I don't understand, where's Jodi? …No, that can't be.
      Bonnie: What's going on?
      Christy: But she's supposed to be here, with us!
      Jill: Christy, what's happening?
      Christy:Jodi overdosed.
      Wendy: Is she gonna be okay?
      Christy:She's gone.
    • In "Tush Push and Some Radishes"
      Ray: This is my mother's place.
  • Worst Wedding Ever: As an example for new beau Adam as to why AA is so important to her, Bonnie plays a video from 2007 of Christy and Baxter's wedding reception, fast-forwarding it four times. First, she butts in on a couple dancing, and proceeds to grope the male's ass while screaming for everyone to dance as they're ruining Christy's wedding and chugging a bottle of wine. Next, when Christy tosses the bouquet, Bonnie plows down three women and rips the bouquet out of a bridesmaid's hand. Then, up close to the camera, a bloody-nosed Bonnie brags that she's next while waving the bouquet with a wild facial expression. Finally, Christy's tearful apology to everyone is interrupted by Bonnie being hauled off by cops while screaming that she had to punch the bastard because he stole her cocaine. This apparently is all recorded by Baxter, to Christy's added horror.
    Bonnie: (After stopping the video) So, what do you think?
    Adam: (Bewildered) Is there a meeting now? I'll drive you.