On the Season 3 premiere episode of Mom, “Terrorists and Gingerbread”, viewers meet Shirley, Bonnie’s (Allison Janney) estranged biological mother. The arrival of Bonnie’s mother ignites a series of conversations about forgiveness between Bonnie and her daughter Christy (Anna Faris). It’s not an easy topic for any mother and daughter relationship — definitely not for the Plunkett women.
Bonnie’s mom is portrayed by Ellen Burstyn. The 82-year-old actress is best known for her roles in films including The Exorcist (mother Chris MacNeil), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (the film that inspired the TV sitcom Alice), The King of Marvin Gardens (Sally), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Viviane Joan ‘Vivi’ Abbott Walker), and more recently in Oliver Stone’s W. (Barbara Bush), among others. Burstyn is also known for her roles on TV. She landed her own show in the 1980s, The Ellen Burstyn Show, with pre-Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally, and more recently had recurring roles on Big Love (Nancy Davis Dutton) and Louie (Evanka). Mom airs Thursdays at 9pm on CBS, after Life in Pieces.