Though she didn’t connect with audiences on the CBS comedy, Accidentally on Purpose, Jenna Elfman is ready to try her hand at a leading role once again in ABC’s next single-camera comedy Bad Mom.
The show centers on Julia Lacey (Elfman), a single mother who has allowed her two children to be raised by her mother, Marian. Now that Marian has decided she’s through raising her grandchildren, Julia is faced with the daunting task of taking up where her mother left off, and coming to terms with the fact she has been absent from her children’s lives.
Bad Mom is the brainchild of British writer-actress Sharon Horgan (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret), who will be executive producing alongside Aaron Kaplan (Terra Nova).
First we had Bad Santa, next it was Bad Teacher, and now Bad Mom. Maybe when it comes to those we expect to be somewhat virtuous citizens, bad is the new good – or at least commercially viable. While I would like to think ABC would run with something edgy like Bad Santa, I know this is the alphabet network we’re talking about here, so I doubt a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed mother is really in the cards. Besides, Elfman’s appeal has always centered more on her charm and attractiveness than any sort of hackneyed attempt at controversy.
As the network is still technically trying to hammer out the details with Elfman, there has been no announcement as to who will be taking on the role of Julia’s children, or her mother – and how large of a role the Marian character will play.
Even more important is settling on the right balance of ages for Julia’s children. This will be a bit of a tightrope for the show to walk – the children will need to be old enough to know something’s not right with mom, but not so old that they can get by without her. Secondly, it will be imperative that the kids aren’t too young, which would come off as sad and just bum audiences out. Ideally, they should shoot for the 10 to 13-year-old range. While snotty adolescents are typically exasperating, they may come off as likable protagonists – given the circumstances.
ABC has been on a run lately with single camera comedies like Modern Family, Cougar Town and the Matthew Perry led Mr. Sunshine, but will Bad Mom prove to be another winner for the network? More to the point, can Elfman carry a show that won’t tell its audience when to laugh?