Last night, the ladies of Showtime’s #SMILF held an Emmy’s For Your Consideration screening and panel at The Whitney Museum. There, Frankie Shaw, Rosie O’Donnell, Connie Britton, talked Season 1, feminism, and what it’s like being led by Shaw and her set of quadruple talents. Here’s what happened.
The evening started with a screening of the Season 1 finale, “Mark’s Lunch & Two Cups of Coffee” an episode that finds Bridgette matching with her estranged father on Tinder. For those who don’t watch or forgot, her father sexually abused her as a child, and basically caused her and her mom’s life to understandably spiral. As for what happens, the TLDW version is: They meet, Bridgette finally confronts him and makes you cry while doing so, only for Tutu to show up and confirm: this is not her dad.
At first glance, the episode is an interesting choice to screen among Emmy voters, but in hindsight, was also the perfect choice as it perfectly encapsulates what makes SMILF so compelling. It’s ability to make you both laugh and cry at a fucked up situation. It highlighted Shaw’s ability to take pain and find the humor within it…as twisted as that humor may sometimes be.
After the episode, Shaw, O’Donnell and Britton took to the stage to answer questions, discuss filming, the beauty of powerful women, and what fans can look forward to in Season 2. Here are five things we learned:
1. Shaw didn’t set out to make a “feminist” show.
She made it clear that her intentions from the jump were to tell true stories that felt real to her and the women around her. It’s because of that north star that the show inherently feels supportive and inclusive of women. O’Donnell agreed, and added how nice it was for her, a lifelong feminist, to get to work alongside a “New Age feminist.” For Britton, she thinks a “real feminist questions the things around her,” which is why she loves both Shaw and the series for doing just that.
2. Connie Britton is funny.
Rosie may be the true comedian of the bunch (and she treated moments throughout the panel like a standup routine), but it was Britton’s comedic chops that really made an impression. Britton and O’Donnell had one scene together in Season 1, and O’Donnell revealed how shocked she was to find out Britton was funny. To be fair, Ally is the first role where fans have gotten to see this side of Britton, but Britton’s reaction to the outburst just proved her point. Her joke about not being in the episode aired at the panel got some great laughs, too.
3. Shaw loves her some movies.
She admitted that she uses the series as a way to pay homage to some of her favorite films. Whether it’s how some of the episodes are structured, or the quotes that appear before an episode starts, she loves finding unique ways to show her love for great filmmaking. For those wondering, Season 2 will feature even more nods to the films she loves most, and that even includes a Western.
4. There’s a reason the episode titles are all food-related.
As some fans have noticed, the titles of all episodes in Season 1 are of food. When asked why, Shaw explained that there’s a connection between victims of sexual assault and food addiction. With so much of Bridgette and Tutu’s storylines being rooted in the trauma they experienced, this was a subtle, but powerful way, to bring awareness to the important, and ironically timely, issues.
Related side note: Shaw also addressed the literal “pussy grab” that was featured in an episode, and her decision to have Bridgette punch the guy in the face. After sharing her own experience of being groped on the subway, she noted how she, and so many other women, freeze. So, that punch was for every woman who wanted to fight back but couldn’t.
5. Creator. Director. Writer. Producer.
It’s important to remember all the roles Shaw plays within the world of #SMILF. As show-runner, and all the titles listed above, she’s responsible for pretty much every aspect of the show. When asked which role is her favorite, she said directing because she loves the “in the moment” feel of it all. But with all that said, she didn’t sugarcoat the amount of work wearing all those hats actually is. The thing to remember, she told the audience, is that you never know what you can do until you are actually in the situation. Which, the room and Shaw agreed, happens to be just like Bridgette.