A very special PSA followed last night’s episode of Mom on CBS, in which one of the supporting characters dies suddenly from a drug overdose.
Mom‘s stars, Allison Janney and Anna Faris, flanking U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, remind viewers that addiction is an illness, a disease, but “not a moral failing.” We all need to look out for one another.
The nationally-televised message comes on the one-year anniversary of the death of comedian, actor and TV writer Harris Wittels. I’ve published a speech his mother, Maureen Wittels, delivered at a Facing Addiction comedy benefit last fall in Washington, D.C.
Mom‘s co-creator, Chuck Lorre (himself living in recovery), told The Hollywood Reporter that he tries to steer his sitcom away from “A Very Special Episode” territory that was a staple of broadcast network sitcoms in the early 1980s. And yet. Lorre added that he and his entire writing staff never want “to lose sight of the fact that this is a life and death issue,” adding:
“Even though we’re doing a comedy and our first issue is to somehow cause laughter, from the very beginning we’ve tried to make this show about recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction and to do that without ever acknowledging the harsh reality of it seemed to be a cheat. It would be easy to do on a network sitcom, to walk blithely through the mine field, but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. It was pretty much planned from the beginning that mortality had to be dealt with. The potential of becoming a glib, junky show about something as devastating as alcoholism and drug addiction, what it does to people and families, I didn’t want to be part of that.”
And Lorre’s own custom-written end title card that appeared for a split-second following the episode read: “God, if the experiment was to find out what happens when life is aware of itself and sees itself as being separate and alone, the results are in. You can stop now.”