If I’m to be completely honest when I first heard about Call Your Mother I wasn’t filled with excitement, Kyra Sedgwick is a fine actress who’s appeared in some great films but another multi-camera sitcom on ABC wasn’t exactly what the world was crying out for. The only cause for optimism was that it was created by Kari Lizer, whose previous sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine was unlikely to ever be anyone’s favourite series but it was a decent enough vehicle for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Yet judging this by mainstream network sitcom standards it isn’t actually too bad at all, don’t expect anything near the quality of a (good) HBO Max or Netflix sitcom, but the dialogue flows fast and has a nicely unconventional quality to it. Whether they’ll be able to maintain that over the course of twenty two episodes a season is always unlikely, at least if it runs for more than a few seasons, but this pilot is a quirky and often amusing show.
Explained in the opening scenes via a phone call with her daughter and a chat with her best friend Sharon, we learn that Jean Raines is a slightly overbearing mother who is worried about her son Freddie (Joey Bragg) as he hasn’t spoken to her in four whole days, and that’s enough to get her to fly over to LA and see what’s going on. Which isn’t very much, Freddie’s just been busy working, but Jean then discovers that Freddie and his sister Jackie (Rachel Sennott) aren’t speaking and so interferes.
The reason this works is because of the decent dialogue, it’s not packed with hilarity but there’s a fair amount of silliness, what with the way Sharon (Sherri Shepherd) thinks that Freddie has gone AWOL as “It’s California, he’s good looking, spells pornos to me”, and soon the two are chatting about whether pornography has good looking men in it, and even goes as far as having the two express their views on hairless genitalia, though it’s careful not to sound as extreme as I’ve made it do.
The way the character’s go on digressions during conversations is the show’s strong point, Jean is staying at the guest house of Australian divorcee Danny (Patrick Brammall) thanks to Air B&B and soon saying about her closeness with her children that “I’d still be breast feeding if we lived in France”. When we get to meet Freddie’s girlfriend Celia (Emma Caymare) and Jackie’s flat mate Lane (Austin Crute) it increases the show’s diversity, and has fun with the idea that Celia as a social media influencer isn’t the smartest cookie in the world, and Lane is gay though you might not notice as “he’s not really L.A. gay yet”.
There are some flaws, the way it deals with the family drama is a little tedious, and the will they / won’t they relationship with Jean and Danny is clearly going to be will they sooner rather than later. But as family friendly network sitcoms it shows a fair amount of promise, the cast are all on top form, and as long as the scripts continue to be unpredictable then this should be very watchable fare.