Created In Partnership With Single Drunk Female

Single Drunk Female — A Must-See Comedy About Sobriety — Aims To Remove The Stigma For Good

Margarita Mondays. Wine Wednesdays. Happy hours. “Book club.” In a world in which drinking culture is the norm, with holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve) and social events (Santacon) dedicated solely to the glorification and overconsumption of alcohol and thus, inebriation, sobriety is the anomaly. It’s the too difficult/uncomfy subject that society tends to skirt around. And even though the sober-curious trend and the popularity of collective challenges like Dry January or Sober October has made it a little less taboo, one TV show is aiming to remove the stigma altogether by addressing it in a funny, refreshingly in-your-face, and supremely watchable way: Single Drunk Female, premiering January 20 at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform (available to stream on Hulu the next day).
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Written, created, and executive produced by Simone Finch (who is seven years sober and whose experience informs the entirety of the show), Single Drunk Female follows 28-year-old alcoholic Samantha Fink, played by Sofia Black-D’Elia, who, after a series of altercations, is forced to sober up and effectively restart her life. The premise sounds dark (and arguably not one meant for a comedy), but Black-D’Elia wants to make it clear: This is a story about hope. “I couldn’t think of a show that told a story of a young woman getting sober, going through recovery, especially not in a half-hour comedy format,” she says about what drew her to the project. “It just felt really different and unique to me.”
Ahead, we spoke with Black-D’Elia about what she loves about her onscreen character (including the fact that Sam is “deeply uncool”), female friendships, turning 30, and the big message she hopes viewers will take away from Single Drunk Female.
What initially attracted you to Single Drunk Female?
“The first thing that drew me to this project was that Leslye Headland (Russian Doll) and Jenni Konner (Girls) were already attached, and those are two women that I have on my dream board to work with, so I was really excited about that. And I loved Simone’s script — I thought she just did a great job at telling this truthful, funny, relatable story, and it felt really refreshing to me.”
There really hasn’t been a comedy that revolves around sobriety, and it’s done in a raw, meaningful, yet lighthearted way. Why is the comedic element important when tackling a subject as difficult/sensitive as sobriety? 
“Simone is seven years sober now, and she’s doing really well. She often says that sobriety and AA saved her life. Ultimately, this is a joyful story with hope in it, so I think it more naturally suits a half-hour comedy than an hour-long drama, especially when you have people like Jenni Konner involved — really funny women who love to write comedy. For me, playing Sam, it’s not all dour and dark, which is not to say that doesn’t exist at all, but Sam is a real person, so therefore, she’s all the things at once.”
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What do you love about playing Sam? What part of the character resonated with you the most? 
“She’s deeply uncool — that’s my favorite thing about Sam. With social media and the way we engage with each other, especially now in isolation, there’s so much pressure to not only have your life figured out, but to be the coolest version of yourself, and it starts to feel so inauthentic and competitive and depressing. I love that Sam is very messy and uncool. She texts the wrong thing to everybody, she wears loud, weird coats and clothing, and her hair’s a mess. She’s like a bizarre bull in a china shop. Her not really fitting in properly is the thing I like the most about her.”
What personal experiences did you draw to help you with the role of Sam? 
“I was lucky because Simone was there with me every step of the way, and because this is based on her life, I used her as a well of information. Between the two of us, I think that’s where Sam was born. But because I was playing a real person, I think I tried to check my ego and my own experiences at the door and embrace this world that was unique to Simone. I would say the relationship between Sam and [her mother] Carol felt very familiar to me. I think all mother-daughter relationships are so complicated and beautiful and weird, and that felt very familiar to me.”
What parts of Sam made you reflect on your own life? 
“I just turned 30, and Sam’s almost there — she’s 28 — and it’s such an interesting time because you wake up one day and realize you’ve spent your 20s thinking you know exactly who you are, and suddenly you have absolutely no idea. You’re starting from scratch at a point in your life when you thought you had everything figured out. That’s what made me reflect — this time when things start clicking into place and you’re forced to face the music and every embarrassing, horrible thing you’ve experienced. And Sam is going through that as she's getting sober. On a more serious note, she used drinking as a way of self-medicating her grief, after her father passed away when she was 20. I haven’t experienced a level of grief like that, but I think we all, in one way or another, try to self-treat our trauma. And at a certain point, you have to give up the ghost and deal with it. That was something I was thinking about a lot while we were shooting.”
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What was the most difficult part about playing Sam? 
“Character-wise, she always felt in my pocket. Sometimes when you read a script, you can just hear it. And I felt that way with her instantly. The thing that was really challenging as an actress up until the very last day of shooting was the tone of the show. We’re straddling a very fine line — sometimes it’s very grounded and truthful, sometimes it’s silly and big. This serious subject matter in a half-hour comedy — I sometimes felt like I was getting whiplash, and I really wanted the tone to be unique to the show. I didn’t want something you’ve seen a million times. Obviously, you can't think about any of those things when you're acting because then you’re not present, so in between takes, I would be freaking out about that. I’d try to let it all go, listen to my scene partner, and pray for the best.” 
It’s a show about sobriety, but it’s also a show that highlights the importance of friendships and second chances. What do you ultimately want viewers to take away?
“I do think it’s a lot about relationships and how hard they are. They have to show up every day. The real love story of season one is Sam and Brit [Sam’s former best friend], and this rekindling of an old friendship. I’ve had the same two best friends since I was a little kid, and they are the great loves of my life. If gals watch this and want to text their girls, that would be a dream come true for me. If it makes someone reach out to those people and be like, ‘I love you, I’m sorry when I was a shithead.’ That to me would be the best. 
“I think female friendships on TV and film are so often overly simplified. They’re the most complicated, most nuanced relationships in the world, especially lifelong female friendships, which are constantly evolving. These people know you better than anybody else, they know exactly how to press your buttons. Felicia [another one of Sam’s friends] has known Sam for a very long time and is somebody who can do what Sam wished she could, which is drink and not be an addict. She represents a lot of complicated things to Sam. I love that relationship. I’m proud of the way female friendships are depicted in the show because they’re not simple.” 
Being sober used to hold so much stigma — are you hoping for that to change with this show?
“Absolutely. Some of the coolest people I’ve met are sober. I hope that it doesn't feel like a defining characteristic of somebody when you watch the show. Sam is sober and she’s on a journey of recovery, but that’s only one facet of who she is, and I think anybody who’s at any stage of their recovery, it's only one facet of who they are. It doesn’t define them as a person. The show may not necessarily be what people might expect it to be, so I hope that the audience gives it a chance. I think they might end up caring about these characters a lot more than they would think they do. Maybe you like it, maybe you won’t, and if you don’t, don’t text me about it.” 
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