Freeform’s latest comedy “Single Drunk Female” checks all the boxes for actresses Sofia Black-D’elia and Ally Sheedy in that it explores the classic nuances of a mother-daughter relationship in an honest way. And that’s simply because the actresses themselves feel that bond both on and off screen.
Think of it as a “Gilmore Girls”… but with more drinking, a little more gritty and a lot more hilarious, but the heart and the crux of the show lies between Sam (Black-D’elia) and Carol (Sheedy).
Sam is a 20-something free spirit living in New York City who ships back to Boston after losing her job and in doing so, has to confront her problems as an alcoholic. During her time sobering up at home, she has to live with her overbearing-yet-absent mother, Carol, and it’s through that relationship that we get to see the heart of “Single Drunk Female.”
This relationship isn’t the only problem for Sam however, who has some trouble shaking off her old ways and has to deal with awkward problems such as her best friend now dating her ex-boyfriend. And that’s only the beginning of the many ups and downs.
From Jenni Konner (“Girls,” “Camping”) and Simone Finch (“The Connors”), “Single Drunk Female” premieres this week on Freeform, and both Black-D’elia and Sheedy sat down to talk more about the show and the strong bond they formed both on and off screen.
What drew you both in to working on “Single Drunk Female?”
Sofia: I really wanted to work with Jenni Konner and Leslye Headland, they were already attached at the time that I read the script. So, that was sort of the first thing that drew me in. Then, I read Simone’s [Finch] script and I really loved it. I felt like it was something refreshing and new, and I hadn’t seen something like it before. And, I sort of felt like I knew Sam. I already started to care about her even just reading the first episode, which is already a good sign to me as an actor. I felt protective of the character sort of right away. Then, once Ally came on board it was like a dream come true all around.
Ally: She’s so sweet. I would have to say the same thing, these are exactly the women I’ve always wanted to work with and the whole creative team on this. Then when I read the script, which was the pilot script, I felt like okay — I could feel Carol right away. The relationship and what was already going on with Sam and Carol just felt so right to me. I have wanted to do a series, but this was the right one: This was the right script, the right people, the right team and the right Sofia to have it work.
You both mention your characters as part of the appeal, why do you think you felt so connected with them from the start?
Sofia: For me, I don’t know if I can verbalize it very well. I have an experience sometimes when I read characters that they feel incredibly familiar to me, [and] I can hear it in my head and sort of know how to do it. Then sometimes, that’s not what the creative team had in mind at all, and that’s fine and you walk away. But sometimes, it is, and I think this was just one of those special things where the way that I saw her was the way they did as well. For me, the access point was this mother-daughter relationship because in reading the pilot, Sam came the most alive to me in her scenes with Carol. It made the most sense to me. I felt there was so much history there already, and I think with half-hour comedy pilots generally, it’s so hard to lay that foundation so early. It often takes shows much longer to show you that level of a relationship. Sam and Carol were already there right away, which is really rare. That kind of pulled me in right away and it felt something like okay I know this, I know these gals. Also, just fun aside, Ally and I are both Jewish women, these are a Jewish mother and daughter, culturally Jewish the way we are, and my maternal grandmother had passed away a month before I read this script. Her maiden name was Fink, and then I read this script a month later and it was Sam Fink, which was so weird to me.
Ally: I don’t know exactly. Listen, it’s got to do with my mother and the way I am as a mother — It all just resonated for me. Being truthful, and funny and awful, and conflicted… It’s just really hard to describe, but it’s like if you’re reading a book and you fall in love with a character you’re reading. I was just in love with Carol instantly and with Sam and the relationship that was going on — and it was only the one script, the pilot. So I thought, oh God, yes, I know this character and the relationship.
What was it like getting to explore the mother-daughter relationship since it really is the crux of the show?
Sofia: It was the best. I loved “Gilmore Girls” so much, I watched it religiously with my mom. In my opinion, it’s one of the few shows that gets a mother-daughter relationship right. And I saw some elements of Emily and Lorelai in Carol and Sam, and as an actor I’ve always wanted to do something like that. My relationship with my mom is the most special, beautiful nuanced relationship in my life and it’s just such a joy to explore that. With an actress like Ally Sheedy, it takes it to whole other level and those were the days that for me that if I looked at the call sheet and it was a Carol/Sam scene, no problem. There was never a worry in my mind because I knew Ally and I would find it, and if we didn’t we had fun trying.
Ally: All of my stuff was with Sofia, so it was just an absolute joy. I love Sofia, but also I love working with Sofia and I also found the Sam character nothing but enraging — like a mother. So it was easy, it really was. I love going to work and I couldn’t wait to read the next script [to see] what was going on with Carol and Sam.
I can tell you both are close and I’m sure that plays a part with acting on screen.
Sofia: Yes, I think it’s really a trust thing too. Especially with a relationship where we really drive each other nuts — you can only have fun with that if it really starts with love and trust. Ally made me feel loved and cared for instantly the second I met her. Especially in a comedy, you want to feel like you can fail and try stuff that might not work and I felt that freedom with her instantaneously, so I do think that’s really important. I think in general, our cast felt safe with each other and really trusted each other.
Ally: I trusted Sofia right off the bat. We met each other in Chicago, did some rehearsals and it was really fun. I could trust Sofia completely, so I had freedom… complete freedom. It’s hard to describe, but just when you trust the actor you’re with, it feels liberating because you can spontaneously get nasty and go where you want to go. Also, I love the writing in the show, so we start there. But I had to be careful because it’s very hard for me to separate my Ally-Sofia relationship from feeling like Sofia is my kid [and] feeling possessive and protective — I had to watch it with that with Sofia. I feel possessive, I feel protective and I have asked myself, what is the deal with this? And I thought oh well you know, your relationship with Sofia is a mom-daughter relationship. There’s no way to separate that out.
The first two episodes of ‘Single Drunk Female’ will premiere Thursday, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m. on Freeform.