For years, Simone Finch was at the edge of great TV, hoping to be part of it.
Then her own life became a starting point. The result is “Single Drunk Female,” a comedy-drama that debuts at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 20) on Freeform.
“I started writing this in 2012 – before I got sober, actually,” Finch said. “And then I got sober – and then I realized it was about a girl getting sober.”
Now she’s further along – almost eight years without a drink – and can look back at a precarious time. Her story finds Sam (Sofia Black-D’Elia, 30, shown here) back from rehab, living with a mother (Ally Sheedy, 59), who thinks, as Sheedy puts it: “She’s not going to come change my life and my habits.”
Don’t expect to see drunken, ditzy fun. “Alcoholism is not glamorous,” Finch said. “Everyone else was moving on with their lives, and I was still living in a cockroach-infested studio apartment.”
This began, she said, when her father died when she was 20. “I definitely was medicating my grief.”
And it took a long stretch. “Some people get sober at 19, 18; I don’t know how they do it. I needed another 10 years.”
As she recovered (thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous), she worked as an assistant to some of TV’s top showrunners … working on her script at the same time.
“I wrote it on Barbara Hall’s desk (“Madam Secretary”) and Bruce Halford’s desk (“Roseanne” and “The Conners”) …. They both read it (and) gave me notes.”
She was even on the “Conners” writing staff for a while, credited with co-writing two episodes. But now it’s her show, with Jenni Konner (“Girls”) and Daisy Elliott (“The Goldbergs”) joining her as producers.
At the core is Sam’s relationship with her mother. “It’s complicated and funny and weird and nuanced,” Black-D’Elia said, “in a way that any girl with a mother can see.”
Sheedy fits that category. “My mother is nothing but rich material” for her role, she said.
She also has real-life experience on the other side. She went into rehab in 1985, when her career was at a peak with “War Games,” “Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.”
But this is another generation. It’s Finch’s story (channeled through Black-D’Elia) of modern life in the early stages of sobriety. “It’s very fluid and messy,” Sheedy said, “which is what I like.”