August 3, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Significant Mother”


SIGNIFICANT MOTHER:  Monday 9:30PM on CW – Change the Channel

CW doesn’t air scripted half-hours in its regular season line-up, and it’s been trying its hand with them over the summer when there’s little to lose.  No one is watching its Thursday British import Dates, but it’s a surprisingly nimble set of mostly two-actor, one-act playlets, with an often bittersweet tone and an appealing cast, especially when Oona Chaplin appears in her recurring role.  The new Monday night SIGNIFICANT MOTHER is a different matter entirely, an aggressively dim-witted sitcom with only one joke to tell and neither the style nor the nerve to tell that one well.

The joke:  schmendrick restaurant owner and birthday boy Nate (Josh Zuckerman) comes home to the house he shares with best buddy Jimmy (Nathaniel Buzolic) to find Jimmy all but in flagrante delicto with Nate’s MILFy and recently separated mom Lydia (Krista Allen), the two of them having spent Nate’s trip out of town locked in a torrid affair.  There are a lot of directions where a set-up like this could have gone, some of them sensitive and others provocative and transgressive, but creators Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith take the material to the dumbest places possible, as Nate ends up dueling Jimmy in a drunken case of hopscotch (interrupted, needless to say, by Nate’s surprise birthday party) in an attempt to force the couple to break up, and ultimately deciding that he’ll continue to live in the house where his best friend is having sex with his mother.  Just in case Nate weren’t enough of a sad-sack, he’s also been given Sam (Emma Fitzgerald), his cute co-worker at the restaurant for whom he has hopelessly unrequited feelings, while she enjoys a lusty relationship with Atticus (Jay Ali).  Meanwhile, Nate’s father Harrison (Jonathan Silverman), another imbecile who brings outside food to his son’s restaurant, determines to win Lydia back.

Funny can redeem anything, but there’s no funny to be had here.  The characters are about as unengaging as any ensemble on television, and the collective mass of brain cells on display would barely power a small tadpole.  It took two directors (John Putch and Tripp Reed) to put this together, and they haven’t guided any of the actors to moderation, the result being a lot of scenes where the characters sputter at one another, seeming to wait for a studio audience to laugh at them.  (This is not, incidentally, a low-budget Canadian pick-up for the network:  it was produced by Warners and the pilot, at least, was shot on location in Oregon.)

Expectations can’t be high for Significant Mother, and it literally couldn’t do much worse in the ratings than the 0.1s Dates has been earning on Thursdays.  If CW wants to get into the comedy game with any degree of seriousness, though, it’s going to have to do better than a woeful charity case like this one.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."