Frankie Shaw Interview: ‘SMILF’
“We get conditioned to want to put mothers in a box,” says “SMILF” creator and star Frankie Shaw. “But in reality mothers are complex, multi-faceted people who have desire” and also want to “put their children first, so you have to sort of balance both.” This freshman Showtime series centers on Bridgette Bird (Shaw), a young single mother and actress. Shaw based the show on her own experiences, admitting that she initially wrote the pilot because she was “sick of being a broke, struggling actress with a toddler.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Shaw above.
Like Shaw, Bridgette grew up in blue collar South Boston, where she tries to juggle work with family. While “there are similarities” to Shaw’s own life, there are also “great departures. As I tell people, I didn’t call the show ‘Frankie.’ It is fictionalized.” Shaw, who also writes and directs several episodes, wanted each installment “to feel like its own mini-movie,” which wouldn’t necessarily center on her. “We have a very diverse array of characters that we can investigate through the show,” she adds, including Rosie O’Donnell as Bridgette’s domineering mother and Miguel Gomez as her child’s father.
Although the series is frank and honest about sexuality, Shaw worked to make sure that “we didn’t have any female nudity that was objectifying women.” She made sure “the nudity comes mainly from the female point-of-view,” but she “wasn’t trying to be daring with her sexuality. I was just trying to be honest to her perspective and her experience.”
Shaw received Golden Globe nominations for Best TV Comedy Series and Best TV Comedy Actress earlier this year for the show’s first season. She won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival for the original short film of “SMILF” that was used to pitch the series to networks. As a performer, she is also known for her roles in the drama series “Mr. Robot” and the film “Stronger.”