Frankie Shaw on how that Trump tape inspired a powerful SMILF moment
Some Golden Globe nominees get the news from a text, others from a publicist’s phone call, and many from watching the live-stream of the announcements. Frankie Shaw’s story beats all of those though: The SMILF creator and star found out her Showtime series nabbed two nods while she was being interviewed by a Boston radio station she grew up listening to.
“It was pretty incredible,” Shaw says, laughing, after recalling how just hours before, she asked the show’s host mid-interview if the Golden Globes nominations were out after noticing her publicist and agent had been trying to call her. The host soon told Shaw (and the station’s listeners) that SMILF — adapted from Shaw’s short film of the same name — got nominated for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy while Shaw was recognized in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy category.
The comedy-drama is set in Shaw’s native South Boston (a.k.a. Southie) and partially based on her own life as a single mother. Her character, Bridgette, spends her days doing odd jobs — tutoring uninterested teens, demoralizing acting gigs, etc. — to get by, taking care of her tiny son, and trying to follow her dreams in a society that isn’t always supportive of women, especially women with children.
“Part of the show’s charm is exposing some of the darker elements of humanity, but doing it with levity and with humor and with heart, hopefully,” Shaw tells EW. “Bridgette really does put her kid first and tries to be the best mom she can be, so I think showing some of the messier parts can hopefully let other people admit to their own messiness — and I’m also not saying that I’m speaking for all single moms, it’s just this one person who is trying to work her life out.”
Some of the darker elements include sexual harassment and assault, which Bridgette experiences in episode 3 when a man she’s talking to in a food court reaches under the table and grabs her vagina, a story line partly inspired by the infamous tape where Donald Trump talks about grabbing women “by the p—y.”
“We were like, ‘What if we materialize that into an episode from her point of view?'” Shaw says. “What if someone was actually grabbed by the p—y, how does it feel from her perspective?”
Along with that tape, Trump’s election also influenced the series: “I think just the atmosphere of being under his, I don’t know, regime is empowering in a way because people are a lot more vocal with their anger and they feel the need to speak out,” Shaw says. “I feel like it’s made me a more courageous creator, because you have to be. Because it’s that, or you’re just letting them win, or staying silenced.”
SMILF, which was recently renewed for a season 2,airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.