‘Single Drunk Female’ Stars & EPs Talk Sam’s Sobriety Battle and Relationships (VIDEO)

Ally Sheedy and Sofia Black-D'Elia in Single Drunk Female
Freeform/Koury Angelo

In Freeform’s Single Drunk Female, 20-something alcoholic Samantha Fink (Sofia Black-D’Elia) aims to get sober after her life implodes while moving home with her mother, Carol (Ally Sheedy), and “messy” is pretty much the best way to describe the entire situation, including their relationship.

Creator Simone Finch drew from her own experiences for the series, which, while tackling serious topics like sobriety, is a comedy. “I always feel that the things I laugh the hardest at come from the darkest places and the places in my life where I have just been at my wit’s end,” executive producer Daisy Gardner tells TV Insider.

And as evident in the 10-episode first season (premiering January 20), “the show is as much about the person getting sober as the people around them and how that’s challenging for them when a person gets sober and not just ’cause they won’t drink with you,” executive producer Jenni Konner says. “People feel judged and people feel confused and Sam’s made so many mistakes that she sort of has to rebuild everything.”

When you first meet Sam, she’s very publicly making mistakes, like the one seen in the exclusive clip below. (If you ask Black-D’Elia, all that’s working for her character is “she’s really good at wearing big, funny coats.”) But early on, you can see that she can succeed… eventually. “The positive thing she’s doing is really messing up in a very spectacular way and hitting bottom so that she can go up,” Konner offers, with Gardner adding that in the pilot, you do see “the willingness to change.”

But first, she has a tough road ahead of her, including at her “starter job” at the grocery store (“to teach [her] how to work again,” Finch explains). That’s “the hardest job she’s ever had,” Gardner says. “She’s finally up against someone [her boss, Jojo Brown’s Mindy, from her AA group] who knows all her tricks.” Someone else in that same boat: her sponsor, Olivia (Rebecca Henderson), whom Finch used to show “that a sponsor is not your friend,” “can’ be tough,” and is “not just someone that’s gonna cosign all of your bulls**t.” Olivia is the one to warn Sam that the cash and prizes don’t come overnight.

But while Sam may think that “if she just stops drinking, everything will fall into place,” she learns that’s not the case, Black-D’Elia previews. “What Sam gets out of sobriety is so much more important than the cash and prizes because she is living, she’s really present for the first time in a really long time. She’s feeling things she hasn’t felt in a very long time. … Yes, we see her fail and fail and fail, but we also see her take things in and not drink. S**t happens and she just keeps going.”

Sam getting sober changes her relationships with those in her life, including Carol, friends Felicia (Lili Mae Harrington) and Brit (Sasha Compère), and James (Garrick Bernard), whom she meets in AA. Not only do they not know who she is when she hasn’t been drinking, but “she doesn’t know who she is sober,” Finch points out.

Sam and Carol’s relationship is “either fun or painful, depending on the day,” Konner says. After all, having her daughter move back home throws “a big wrench in the works” f0r her character, Sheedy explains. Carol’s life was “more together than it’s been for a long time, moving on from my husband being sick and dying and getting my house together and doing this and doing that and then finding my life as a single woman in my 50s.”

Ally Sheedy as Carol, Sofia Black-D'Elia as Sam in Single Drunk Female

Freeform/Daniel Delgado

In the beginning, their relationship is best described as “really fragile,” Black-D’Elia says. “It’s that feeling of one word could set them off. They love each other very, very much, but they blame each other for a lot of stuff also, and they just really struggle to communicate which is fun to play with.”

Carol is “much more successfully dating somebody than Sam is capable of doing” when we first meet her, but that’s because Sam’s going to be struggling with being attracted to James and unable to do anything about it until she’s a year sober. That is “a very big struggle,” Konner teases, with Gardner adding that for Sam, “he’s hot and smart and attractive, and he is the person that she wants. So why can’t she just have that?” Instead, Black-D’Elia shares, she and Bernard had “fun” playing the “tension” between their characters which “allows them to become friends.”

But Sam’s not the only one trying to stay sober. James is facing that struggle, too, “and I don’t think she quite understands that,” Finch says. It’s with his character that “Simone is telling an important story, which is that everybody’s journey through sobriety is very different,” Black-D’Elia says.

Garrick Bernard as James, Sofia Black-D'Elia as Sam in Single Drunk Female

Freeform/Danny Delgado

Meanwhile, for her friends, there’s a sense of “why should I believe it?” about her staying sober, Konner says. Sam and Felicia “have to figure out a way to be friends without drinking,” Finch says. “That was something that I definitely had to deal with when I got sober: What is my relationship to this person if alcohol is removed?”

And while Brit marrying Sam’s ex-boyfriend does make things awkward for the former friends, their road to possible reconciliation has nothing to do with him. “We’ve talked about the relationship with Brit and Sam kind of being the secret platonic love story, that that relationship and repairing that relationship is almost as important as navigating her relationship with Carol or James,” Gardner says.

Konner adds, “their relationship as it existed always was that Sam was the mess and Brit had it all together. And I think it gets hard for Brit — and complicated — as Sam starts to get it together and they have to redefine everything.”

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