‘Single Drunk Female’: An Unforeseen and Refreshing Depiction of Alcoholism

“Unable to speak or act in the usual way because of having had too much alcohol.” This is one of the descriptions given by the Cambridge Dictionary on what “drunk” means. When we see alcoholics on TV, they are often portrayed as unpleasant, grumpy old men who no one wants to be around. Well, brace yourselves, because “Single Drunk Female,” Freeform’s new comedy show, comes in like a wrecking ball to change your perception of alcoholics. 

“Single Drunk Female” acquaints us with the character of Samantha, a.k.a. Sam Fink (Sofia Black-D’Elia), a journalist in her late twenties who struggles with an alcohol addiction. What thickens the plot is that she doesn’t realize she does. 

Showrunner and creator Simone Finch went down a similar path, as she has battled with alcoholism herself. Subsequently, since she is “in acceptance of [her] alcoholism,” she was able to write about it and create Sam’s character in an honest and realistic fashion. 

Not recognizing one’s alcoholism seems to be connected to the glamorization of alcohol by society. Like her real-life counterpart, Sam may be romanticizing drinking, and at the same time, it becomes “a coping mechanism,” to quote Finch. Sam believes she’s in control, but as she causes chaos around her, the consequences of her alcohol addiction become loud. She loses her job, is sent to rehab, moves back in with her mother, Carol (Ally Sheedy), and is in debt. Despite all of this, the moment when everything seems to fall apart is not shown as dramatic, depicting that Sam still doesn’t realize how much alcohol has cost her. When Sam starts attending AA meetings, it is only to appease her probation officer. Then, the Twelve Steps of the program take shape in a very practical way.

The first step of the program is admitting to being powerless over alcohol; however, when Sam finally ends up doing so to her mother, it triggers the latter. The women maintain a rather conflicted relationship. Carol doesn’t understand her daughter’s disease, not recognizing it as such and minimizing it. To top that off, Sam’s friend, Felicia (Lily Mae Harrington), also doesn’t comprehend it and only wants to party with her. At a time when Sam needs a thoughtful and stable support system more than ever, she is only able to find it in her AA meetings’ fellow members.

Sofia Black-D’Elia and Ally Sheedy as Samantha Fink and her mother. Courtesy of Freeform.

It comes as such a surprise that Freeform, a platform that usually targets a Millennial/Gen Z audience, tackles alcoholism. One doesn’t often see that such a disease touches the youth, especially on TV. Fink told HuffPost she was “fearful” that alcoholism would be “sanitized” in the show. Nevertheless, she was glad the executive team dived deep into the matter. 

Although the representation of alcoholism in “Single Drunk Female” is engaging, Sam does disappoint us at times, like when she attempts to use a serious issue to her advantage. In the pilot episode, when she gets fired, she accuses her boss of doing so because she “was telling him something honest and the patriarchy couldn’t handle it.” Admittedly, she was drunk and it’s a classic human response to toss out blame, but still. Sexism is not taken seriously enough as it is, so using it improperly is such a pity. 

You don’t often get to see young alcoholics on television. “Single Drunk Female” takes a risk and ventures into this persona, and boy is it explored properly. With a creator who knows exactly what she’s talking about, the new Freeform show undoubtedly has a promising future. While in the first few episodes we got to see Sam take her first small steps towards recovery, it is fair to say that the series made a good start. And we can’t wait to see what’s next. 

“Single Drunk Female” airs on Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. EST on Freeform and is available to stream the next day on Hulu.

By Sourour Elfourti

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