Go behind the scenes with the cast of SMILF as they discuss what’s in store for Season 2. Starring Frankie Shaw. SMILF Season 2 premieres Sunday, January 20 at 10:30pm ET/PT.
Before I was an actress, I wanted to be a basketball player. Growing up in Boston, I practiced all the time. I wouldn’t leave the court unless I made 100 free throws and 100 lefty layups. My friend Phoebe and I would hustle men—we would act like we didn’t know how to play, and then we’d play two-on-two with guys and bet money. We would often win.
I went to college in New York, at Barnard, and that’s where I discovered acting. My first job was playing a waitress from Staten Island on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Eventually, I moved to L.A. I was sick of being a broke, struggling auditioner, so I wrote SMILF.
The optics of SMILF are very autobiographical. Like my character on the show, I play basketball, and I, too, have a baby daddy who’s married to a beautiful blonde actress from Australia. But then the show veers off in a million crazy directions.
Your toddler son on the show is so cute.
Those are twin girls playing my son. They’re the most beautiful humans who have ever lived and will ever live.
Won’t it be awkward when you’re in year 20 of the show and your son looks like your daughter?
It’ll be GILF then. Grandmothers! Actually, we may want to say he was really two girls. That would be a great story to tell!
SMILF creator and star Frankie Shaw has signed a two-year overall deal with ABC Signature Studios, the studio behind the breakout Showtime series. Under the exclusive TV pact, Shaw will continue as an executive producer on SMILF, which has started filming its second season in Boston. She also will develop new projects for all platforms, including broadcast, with focus on cable.
A unique aspect of the deal will enable Shaw to incubate small projects/films as both a proof of concept and a way to identify undiscovered voices. Shaw credits her work in short film with enabling her to grow as a filmmaker and make the move into television. Backed by ABC Signature, she hopes to do the same by nurturing undiscovered female and diverse artists via her newly launched production company.
SMILF, loosely based on Shaw’s experiences as a single mother, originated as a spec TV script she had written to get a writing job. Struggling to get it produced, she eventually made a portion of it into a the short SMILF, which won the jury award for best short film at Sundance in 2015 and opened the doors for the SMILF TV series. Its debut last year saw the biggest premiere week audience for a new Showtime comedy since 2012. Additionally, the first season was the biggest freshmen half-hour comedy on Showtime since 2010. SMILF, which co-stars Rosie O’Donnell and Connie Britton, also earned two Golden Globe nominations, for best television series musical or comedy, and best actress in a TV series musical or comedy for Shaw.. The series is executive produced by Shaw, Michael London, Lee Eisenberg and Scott King.
“During the journey of developing and producing SMILF with Frankie it quickly became clear that we wanted an ongoing partnership to help build out her company, brand and vision,” said Tracy Underwood, SVP, ABC Signature Studios. “She’s such a brilliant artist with a singular point of view while also proving to be an ambitious, taste making producer. “
Added Shaw, “ABC Signature has been an incredible partner in bringing SMILF to life and I’m so excited to take our relationship to the next level. I’m even more grateful for their support in creating a space for new and diverse storytellers.”
Shaw also wrote and directed the short Too Legit starring Zoe Kravitz, Teresa Palmer, Nate Corddry and Clarke Gregg, which premiered at Sundance in 2016. Her recent acting credits include the first season of USA Network’s Mr. Robot, and the film Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany.
Shaw is repped by UTA and Karl Austen.
Deadline did a little feature of Frankie in their new issue. I’ve added scans to the gallery. It was a good read, definitely check it out. Enjoy!
Frankie is featured in the new issue of Emmy magazine. It’s a beautiful spread and a good read. Big thanks to my friend Mary for these. Check it out in our gallery.
Between the first and second seasons of Frankie Shaw’s single mom Showtime series, “SMILF,” the writers’ offices moved from the Sunset Gower lot in Hollywood to the Paramount lot, a mere mile away. Shaw made it a point to bring with her items that represented not only the inspiration for her show, but also all the hard work that went into making the series so far. “We really did all band together,” she says of her writing staff. “It felt almost like an athletic team — at least that’s how I can relate to it.”
This Isn’t Just Horse Play
An avid rider when she was growing up, Shaw was gifted this photograph taken by Laura Porzak. She hung it behind her desk when she moved into her new office not only because of her longtime love of the animal, but also because of the “dark horse metaphor,” which will be infused in the second season. “Bridgette is faced with her shadow self, and what does that mean if you try to repress the darker parts of yourself?” Shaw reveals.
Designed by Discourse
“SMILF” takes on a lot of social and cultural issues that range from sexual assault to mental illness to race and modern masculinity. Although Shaw admits that her politics are oftentimes “the ones that come through” on the show, she wants to include a lot of different perspectives and voices in her writers’ room to help flesh out the supporting characters. “Our room is really diverse and our stories are very anecdotal from our writers and then also people who maybe think deeper than we do,” she says. Shaw relies on a number of books from writers including Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whom she not only reads but also encourages her writers to read.
Color Palette Collage
On the wall adjacent to Shaw’s desk is a collage that she draws from tonally and visually. Photos of Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” inspired an early fantasy sequence on “SMILF,” a photo of the WNBA “dream team,” who were her heroes growing up, paved the way for Bridgette’s own hoop dreams, and shots from “A Woman Under the Influence, “Chungking Express” and “In the Mood for Love” inform the show’s lighting style. “As we write season two we realize some of this means even more. This season’s all about identity and we actually have an homage to ‘In the Mood for Love,’” Shaw says. A quote about how “language can represent us or not” from Bell Hooks and a key prop from Shaw’s short film “Too Legit” flesh out the space.
Drawing the Male Gaze
Production designer Michael Grasley sketches ideas for the sets he pitches Shaw. A one-off scene in a department store dressing room became a bit more complicated by the fact that the camera had to be able to pan up to see a man hiding in rafters above, spying on and “jerking off to” women as they changed, Shaw recalls. Grasley presented her this sketch, in which the juxtaposition of light, airy movement below and dark cramped quarters above she found beautiful. “I said, ‘I want that framed,’ sort of as a joke, but when we wrapped, this came in the mail,” Shaw says. Now the prized possession hangs in a prime spot right behind her couch.
In the first season of “SMILF,” Bridgette looked back fondly on her youthful passion of playing basketball and decided she was going to go for it professionally. “For a young, single mom to have dreams, aspirations to play basketball, it’s such a far reach — it’s the farthest reach one can have maybe,” Shaw acknowledges. She may not have made the cut, but the plot point informed the framed basketball Showtime senior vice president of original programming Amy Israel gave her when the show wrapped. “You crushed it!” wrote Israel.
Page One Rewrite
The very first line Bridgette was ever supposed to speak was “I need to get undressed,” Shaw says. It was the opening to the television pilot she was working on in 2012 — well before she created the short film version that ended up winning a Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. She keeps this doodle from co-producer Emily Brecht to remind her how far she — and the idea — evolved through the years and how important those first creative instincts can be.