Thursday, January 20, 2022

REVIEW: 'Single Drunk Female' - Sober Life Holds Sam Accountable for the First Time Ever in 'Pilot' & 'One Day at a Time'

Freeform's Single Drunk Female - Episodes 1.01 "Pilot" and 1.02 "One Day at a Time"

A public flame-out forces 20-something alcoholic Sam to move back home with her overbearing mother, Carol. Surrounded by all the triggers that made her drink, Sam tries to move past her worst self and figure out her best self. Kinda.

"Pilot" was written by Simone Finch and directed by Leslye Headland
"One Day at a Time" was written by Simone Finch and directed by Phil Traill

Sam's drinking isn't perceived as cute, charming or fun for one single moment. It's disastrous for her from the very first moment she appears onscreen. It's costly to her quality of life. She wants to perceive it as being beneficial and necessary for her to survive in the world. She does get a number of lucky breaks throughout her endeavors too. But again, the toxicity of her behavior is always at the core of the story. She can't operate with any kind of meaningful perspective. Her mentality on right and wrong has been warped as a result of her drinking. It's unfair that her peers don't suffer from the same problems. But that's just an indictment of how she would rather blame others instead of looking inward. She holds onto these resentments that seem childish. She hasn't grown up. Part of that comes from not accepting how difficult life is and how accountable she needs to be for her actions. It may have all been stunted for her when her father died. That's only briefly alluded to in these first two episodes though. It may have accelerated some of these issues. However, it can't be deemed responsible for all the problems in her life. No one is entitled to be understanding of her struggles either. One would hope that she has a strong support system at home to help her approach her recovery. That's not a guarantee. Instead, it's just a reflection of how alienating this disease can be. Carol doesn't even want to view alcoholism as a disease. Her daughter loses control when she drinks. Carol views that as insane because it's so easy for her to stop drinking after one glass of wine at night. She can't step into her daughter's pain or struggle. Instead, it's simply an inconvenience to have Sam back at home. She is still willing to open her door. She loves her. It's also slightly annoying because her own sense of freedom and agency is gone because she has to be an active parent once more. Again, it's something she is willing to do. Sam sees herself as a burden. One where she projects so much coming off of her mother. She believes she knows what others are thinking. Everyone hates her and no one lets her have fun. Her kind of fun isn't healthy. Sam stopping drinking doesn't immediately solve all of her problems either. She has no work ethic. She doesn't believe she has to prove to others that she is deserving of their leniency or approval. And yet, that's required of her in order to get a paycheck and to avoid being sent to prison. She is lucky to have as much freedom as she does. This experience could be a whole lot worse for her. She doesn't understand that. Of course, not everyone can relate to what she is dealing with either. Bob tries to equate breaking his leg while skydiving with Sam's alcoholism. No comparison can be found between the experiences. That moment still showcases genuine love and bonding though because it proves the connection that is still present in this family. Everything isn't as bad as Sam dreads. She has to acknowledge that herself though. That's hard to do. It's so much easier just to start drinking again. The temptation is real when Felicia shows up at the bar. She drinks just as much but also seems to function as a reasonably mature adult. In fact, Felicia and Brit serve as what developments should be happening at this point in Sam's life. She doesn't follow that same trajectory. Others don't understand that. They don't know why it's so hard for Sam to grasp these concepts. It is though. That's how her brain has been wired. It can all stem back to her drinking. She has the tools to ensure she spends each day sober. It's still difficult. The triggers and temptation are all around her. She still bemoans how others treat her so unfairly even though they are being perfectly reasonable with their demands of her. She wants sympathy and is furious when it isn't immediately handed over. Again, that's the easy life she has been accustomed to living. It's no longer acceptable. That change is occurring. It's playing out in this show which gets off to such a charming start even while delving into all of these complicated issues. It's a profound character study where the behavior is alienating and dark while never losing sight of the many emotions of life surrounding it.