DAVID BIANCULLI

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SMILF
November 5, 2017  | By David Bianculli

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

 

SERIES PREMIERE: Frankie Shaw is not only the creator and writer and director of this new Showtime series, but she’s its star as well. And since SMILF (the S stands for Single; for the rest, you’re on your own) is about a single mom trying to make it in a rather judgmental and tough world, it could almost be seen as a spiritual sequel to Lena Dunham’s Girls. Except that the support system for Shaw’s Bridgette Bird is less expansive, and supportive: Her inner circle includes her disapproving, often depressed mother, the distracted and well-to-do mother of a kid she tutors, and Bridgette’s ex-husband, who still checks in as a father – but who also has a beautiful new girlfriend, while Bridgette finds it tough to cope, much less date. Bridgette also is a spiritual sister, certainly, to Fiona Gallagher, the constantly struggling character on this show’s lead-in, Shamelessm so SMILF is at least well-positioned, in addition to being well-intentioned. The first few episodes are a bit wobbly, but Shaw’s Bridgette is likable even when doing unlikable things – a key component, if this series is to succeed – and SMILF has the benefits of two supporting players playing significantly, and successfully, against type. Connie Britton, as the mom whose child Bridgette tutors, is endearingly messed up, a far cry from her got-it-together matriarch on Friday Night Lights. And Bridgette’s own mother, a heavily accented Irish-American toughie, is played by Rosie O’Donnell, with a naturalness,  and a vulnerability, that makes you see her as a serious actress, without any self-aware comic throwaways used as shields.

 
 
 
 
 
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