Roush Review: Sobering Up With a ‘Single Drunk Female’

Ally Sheedy as Carol, Sofia Black-D'Elia as Sam in Single Drunk Female
Review
Freeform/Elizabeth Sisson
Freeform/Elizabeth Sisson

“I miss being a drunk. There was a lot less accountability,” moans Samantha Fink (Sofia Black-D’Elia) on her ninth “very boring and miserable” day of sobriety. Such is life for a recovering Single Drunk Female, Freeform’s raw yet wry character study of a 28-year-old who learns to define herself by something other than her alcohol intake. No one said it would be easy—and as an on-screen “sobriety calculator” ticks off the long and often painful days, this dramedy from creator Simone Finch and executive producer Jenni Konner (Girls) finds flashes of humor and even glimmers of hope in Sam’s rough journey.

When we first meet Sam, she’s a burned-out and strung-out train wreck, losing her trendy New York media job in an embarrassing public outburst. She promptly if reluctantly moves back to Boston to live with her neurotic mom, Carol (a snappish, tart Ally Sheedy—yes, that Ally Sheedy!), in a world full of triggers. Not the least of which is the impending marriage of her former and long-suffering BFF Brit (Sasha Compère) to her ex. When this loving couple finds Sam slicing meat (badly) at the local grocery store where she has found grudging employment—a development much more believable here than it is on Fox’s Pivoting—the awkwardness would drive just about anyone to drink.

Sofia Black-D'Elia as Sam, Lily Mae Harrington as Felicia in Single Drunk Female

Freeform/Elizabeth Sisson

But not Sam. Not yet. The freshman season follows Sam, drolly played by Black-D’Elia with a wounded yet insolent edge, over her first year of a rocky, often humiliating and occasionally affirming probationary period. When she admits to her prickly sponsor (Rebecca Henderson) at 30 days that “It feels bad and good at the same time,” she’s assured that means it’s working.

She’s often her own worst enemy, forcing confrontations when she begins making amends before she’s ready, pursuing a relationship with a new friend (Garrick Bernard) who’s further along in recovery, and hanging in bars and clubs with her outrageously fun-loving single-mom pal Felicia (scene-stealing Lili Mae Harrington). Somehow, she keeps moving on, one surly day at a time, even surviving her first non-drinking St. Patrick’s Day, which her new boss (a feisty Jojo Brown) smartly describes as “The Purge for sober people.”

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Will Sam, as they once sang about a sitcom heroine of an earlier and happier time, make it after all? I wouldn’t bet against her. If fact, I’ll drink on it. Make mine ginger ale.

Single Drunk Female, Series Premiere, Thursday, January 20, 10/9c, Freeform