3 out of 5
Created by: Simone Finch
covers season 1
While surely surrounded by a talented cast, Single Drunk Female absolutely thrives on lead Sofia Black-D’Elia’s droll, sarcasm-heavy style, bringing weight to her character and a show that’s maybe a little too kind-hearted for its concept.
Sofia plays Samantha, newly sober after years of not being as such, on parole after a particularly lost-her-job-and-everything-else rocky bottom, back home with her rather unsupportive mother (Ally Sheedy) and slowly building up a new network of friends from her AA group. The series takes a “one day at a time” approach, showing us how even the most basic steps of gaining steady employment and learning how to be social without drinking are a struggle, once ditching what you’ve previously used as fuel for those activities. But the show is a little soft in confronting these, gearing things toward comedy; if not for D’Elia’s giving her character a particularly harsh veneer, delivering her lines with dripping vitriol that’s balanced out by glimpsed (and occasionally broadcast) insecurities, some of the dialogue might come across less impactful than it does. The show’s writers do find some interesting balance with Sheedy’s character, who’s dismissive of alcoholism as an actual problem, but is supportive of her daughter in her own way – it’d be easier to villainize her, which they do to a certain extent, but with nods to a more nuanced, human take; Rebecca Henderson plays Olivia, Sofia’s sponsor, and is sort of another reflection of this, somewhat played as a one-note fussy lesbian, but then occasionally allowed to offer some more realistic guidance.
Single Drunk Female goes back and forth on this. On the whole, it’s a positive: it exposes the grind of starting over, the self-doubt involved, and D’Elia helps to make sure that the experience is never too pat. However, it does tickle at the trap of saying that being drunk is also kinda funny, and because this is TV, the need for weekly “events” sometimes diminishes how slow of a process recovery should be. Appearing on the youth-geared Freeform channel, it’s a good subject matter for the demographic, and perhaps that the show veers from strong-handing morals into the mix is a good way to pitch it, but it also runs the threat of making things seem like they ain’t too bad, and maybe getting smashed and blowing up your life can lead to a fun situation comedy series of events.