When you look at the title of this episode, A Box of Dunkies and Two Squirts of Maple Syrup, it should already give you a fair assessment of the kind of show that SMILF is. New from Showtime comes the story of a woman named Bridgette Bird (Frankie Shaw), who is trying to find that balance in her life of being a struggling actress and single-mom. Based on the short film that Shaw made and took to the Sundance Film Festival, her name is all over the credits including writer, executive producer, and director of the pilot episode.
The story is set in Boston, and Bridgette lives in a small apartment with her 3-year-old son Larry (named for the Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird) that she loves immensely but does make it tough for her to have any kind of love life. The father Rafi (Miguel Gomez) is a recovering addict but tries his best to make routine visits to her place to see his son and tuck him in at night. While we learn that Rafi has had no problem moving on to other women, she is struggling to even have sex since their relationship ended. Bridgette does part-time work as a nanny for a rich woman named Ally (Connie Britton) and leaves Larry with her crotchety but supportive mother Tutu (veteran actress Rosie O'Donnell) who is every bit east coast that you can give a character.
The first episode has Bridgette going to the doctor and worrying about if her vagina is "blown out" after having Larry but when the doctor asks her if sex isn't pleasurable she says she hasn't had any. The doctor advises her to "go out and have fun" but Bridgette knows that isn't as easy for her as it is for others. Also, she learns that Rafi has started dating a well-known sports reporter named Nelson (Samara Weaving) that has Bridgette very intimidated by her beauty. This can't make her feel any better about her situation.
While this particular episode focuses on Bridgette's floundering sex life there are many instances where we are shown glimpses into her time with Larry (who is the most adorable child of the year and actually played by twin girls). Whether it's being taken to the basketball court with her or trying to give him a bath we never doubt her dedication as a mother. But Mom just wishes she could have a relationship with someone other than her vibrator. Even the simple act of wanting to go to a store and pick up some late night snacks is a challenge because for her having to leave Larry for even a few minutes alone is taxing on her piece of mind.
The final scene which is actually what won me over the most, has Bridgette taking Larry with her to an audition for a PSA and bringing him in the room with her. With her son sitting off to the side, she hits a very emotional mark for the scene and impresses the producers. When she finishes they ask how she is able to hit such a level and she reveals that maybe from being a victim of sexual abuse. But the character doesn't do it in a woe-as-me way and holds her head high as she states it showing her strength in her craft as an actress.
SMILF is an acronym for Single Mom I'd Like (to) F*ck which leads us to believe this show is going to be a constant display of Bridgette trying to deal with motherhood and dating. Being a previous fan already of Frankie Shaw, I'm very happy to see her taking center stage since she has generally been a supporting character in much of her past work like Blue Mountain State and Mixology. She does another commendable job here with Bridgette who doesn't have everything together but isn't a ridiculous hot mess either. It's hard to get too much out of one episode but SMILF seems like a show that is just trying to tackle a common subject in our society and give us some good entertainment with it. I'm sure there's going to be plenty of moments to cry on as much as make us laugh but that's what a well-rounded show is all about.
Arriving as the latest series from Showtime, SMILF didn't have any melodramatic speeches or condescending rants about how "messed up the world is." It stuck to the basics about keeping the story about the protagonist and her life which is all I'm interested in. I like Bridgette and her life and I look forward to seeing where it goes. Did you like Bridgette as well? Or do you feel she needs to get her act together?