Season 1 Episode 1
This is a First Look Review of Showtime’s SMILF starring Frankie Shaw, Miguel Gomez, Rosie O’Donnell, and Connie Britton.
Have fun fucking yourself.
A good show title needs to be many things. Eye catching. Memorable. Easy to say. Showtime’s SMILF does that and more. It’s also one of the few shows to have a curse word in the title (joining the ranks of the rightfully cancelled $#*! My Dad Says and the too soon cancelled Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt. 23). Thankfully, SMILF falls into the latter show’s territory thanks to an intimate script and feel.
Frankie Shaw is the multitasking powerhouse with her directing, writing and starring credit. Based on her Sundance award winning short of the same name, SMILF is Shaw’s pet project stretched from nine to 29 minutes. While not completely bleak like many single camera shows today, it’s funny and heartwarming. Stories feel a lot more personal. For what it’s worth, SMILF retains its guerilla-indie style with harsh camera movements and less than expositional dialogue. And what a treat that is.
Shaw’s Bridgette is a struggling actress in Boston trying to claw her way to relevancy. She’s not letting her child get in the way. In fact, she’s more than welcome to bring her along. Bridgette is trying her best every second of the day. Whether she’s dropping baby Larry off at her mother’s (Rosie O’Donnell in such a good, good role) or running out late at night to pick up junk food while her child sleeps alone in bed, the single mother is very much so trying. “Single” both is and isn’t the right way to put it. Larry’s father (played by The Strain star Miguel Gomez) is still in the picture. But both parents – not wanting to be defined by having a child - realize it’s time to get themselves back out there. The love is still there, though, as they say “I love you” before parting ways for the night.
One of the running threads involves Bridgette’s worry that casual sex won’t feel good for either party involved. She fears her body’s not up to the task, causing the male to get scared off. Another potential story comes in just before the credits when Bridgette says she was sexually assaulted as a child. This is done in casual conversation no less. Way to lay foundation, Shaw.
The star is the creator and director and even showrunner. In many cases – see Stephen Colbert’s Late Show showrunner trouble in mid-2016 – this can prove deadly. But Showtime’s willingness to let Shaw do it all is reminiscent of what streaming services offer. This hands on approach is the exact reason why SMILF feels so intimate. Not many star created shows have the same attribute.
All of this positivity needs to be yielded though. There’s a lot of griminess on the surface of the show. Sex is a main culprit as is nudity. Masturbation is up there too. Viewers have to be comfortable with a certain amount of realness to like SMILF. If that’s not your style, you won’t have a good time. Also worth mentioning is a literal flashing in the camera’s contrast. It happens every so often and can be jarring. My review copy was watched through Showtime Anytime so your mileage may vary.
Should you watch SMILF?
This show is not for everyone. Those with more conservative sensibilities will not be happy with the sexual politics. But, then again, this type of comedy isn’t for everyone.