'Mom' Stars Anna Faris, Allison Janney Grill Chuck Lorre on How to Make Addiction "Funny"

The actresses query their boss for THR's Power Showrunners Issue

This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Anna Faris: When were you first inspired to create the show?

Chuck Lorre: I started the process in 1993 when I went to Elgin, Illinois, to research single moms. I was struck by the impossible nature of raising children, working and trying to have a life. What came out of that was one season of Grace Under Fire. Then I left that show for reasons we don't have to go into now.

Allison Janney: I would like to hear!

Lorre: I'm sure you would. (Laughs.)

Janney: What is your secret to making a show about characters who are struggling with addiction funny?

Lorre: There's an unspoken contract with the audience that promises comedy. But you can't be glib about difficult subjects because that's disrespectful. I think these characters represent hope for one another. The tragedy of the past is in their rearview mirror, which gives you a chance to lighten the mood.

Read the complete list of 2014 Power Showrunners here.

Faris: What is your favorite episode so far?

Janney: I know that one. The season-one finale.

Lorre: Yes. It tore me up! It hit me hard, when Violet [Sadie Calvano] gives the baby up. I've spent 25 years chasing laughs and there I am, sobbing and trying to not let anybody see! It's a good litmus test when you feel that deeply about fictional characters. I remember when we shot it, I was dry as could be. As soon as I was in editing, I started crying.

Faris: We talk a lot about how great it is to have such a densely packed show. We do so much in one episode.

Lorre: That's something we talk about in the writers room, too. "Let these great actors act and let the comedy come from that as opposed to writing jokes."

Janney: What's the nicest feedback you've gotten about the show from the outside world?

Lorre: I don't go on the street! I'm a very indoor cat. I'm terrified of social media. I'm just getting the hang of emails.

Farris: Well, feedback to me has been incredible. I've never done anything that touches people like this.

Lorre: That's great. A few people have told me it's not just something they watch — they've personalized it, which is a dream come true to hear.

See more Emmys: On the Set of 'Mom' With Anna Faris, Guest Star Octavia Spencer

Faris: What is your secret to juggling four shows?

Lorre: Steroids! No, great writers. It's an inhumane task to write even one show, so each one has a staff of great comedy writers.

Faris: If the show had been Dad instead of Mom, whom would you have cast as the father and son?

Lorre: Well, that's easy. Tony Danza and Peter Dinklage! Actually, I have no idea. It would never have been Dad. It wouldn't be as interesting.