Can’t Miss Episode of the Week: ‘Single Drunk Female’ Series Premiere
Welcome to our weekly column Can’t Miss Episode of the Week! Every Saturday we’ll be spotlighting a different episode of television from that week that we thought was exceptional and a must-see. Check back to see if your favorite show got the nod — or to learn about a new one! Spoilers ahead.
In Freeform’s new dark comedy Single Drunk Female, which premiered with back-to-back episodes on January 20, it’s the little things that matter. The series follows Sam (Sofia Black-D’Elia), a girl in her late 20s, who has to confront her drinking problem. The modest premise is that getting sober means doing simple things like making your bed in the morning. The pilot ends on a shot of Sam’s messily made bed, and it’s the moment we know she has decided to take her sobriety seriously. Details like that are what make the show so compelling.
Despite the fact that we start with a ridiculous incident where Sam blatantly totes around a water bottle full of vodka at work, yells at her boss and then assaults him when he tries to fire her, Single Drunk Female is a quiet show. It focuses on this one ordinary person and her small problems in her small life, which is what makes it feel so authentic and relatable. With it comes moments of low-key hilarity, like the ongoing gag where Sam’s parole officer Gail (Madison Shepard) complains about her sister, newly widowed and newly rich, pretending to be overcome with grief as a way of bragging–what’s she supposed to do now with her dead husband’s fancy boat? This isn’t a show going for the loud cheap laugh, but rather has subtle, witty humor that creeps up on you.
Sam’s obstacles include moving back in with her mom, a best friend (Lily Mae Harrington) who wants to go out drinking, and taking a major step down career-wise by working at a grocery store instead of the New York-based media job she was fired from. And because this is a small Greater Boston Area town, she runs into her now engaged former best friend and ex-boyfriend while at the store wearing a hair-net and trying to learn how to use the meat slicer.
The show smartly doesn’t make ex-BFF Brit (Sasha Compére) into a villain. From the jump, we see that even though there’s a lot of hurt between the two, Brit still clearly cares about Sam. Similarly, other character are just as well-rounded. Sam’s mom Carol, played by the amazing Ally Sheedy, can be out of touch as she pours Sam a glass of wine, and responds with shock that Sam isn’t even allowed one glass. Yet, Carol is humanized as she tries to live her best life as a widow. She follows up the wine incident with the line, “It’s hard to be a human.” Yes, it is Carol.
Sam herself isn’t so likable. She’s messy and destructive–she insists on driving drunk even as her equally drunk friends try to stop her with promises of an Uber driver on the way–and yet, in no small way thanks to Black-D’Elia’s sympathetic performance, we root for her. As she tells her mom, alcoholism is a disease, and she’s trying with all her might to make it through, one day at a time.
Other standout characters come from the AA meetings Sam attends. A captivating Rebecca Henderson stars as Olivia, a veteran of the program who has her life together and becomes an unwitting sponsor to Sam. James (Garrick Bernard) is a potential love interest who seems like he’s into Sam, but respects her sobriety journey more than he wants to go on a date with her. As he explains, until she’s sober for a year and a day, she’s not supposed to be romantically or sexually involved with anyone. So for now, he’s a friend who comes to pick her up when she calls him worried that she might go into a liquor store.
These first two episodes celebrate the small victories, whether it be making your bed, showing up to an AA meeting, or earning your first sober paycheck. We could use more shows like that.
Single Drunk Female, Thursdays, 10/9c, Freeform