Frankie Shaw Responds to City Councilor Ed Flynn’s SMILF Criticisms

A Boston city councilor's stance on a Showtime show about a Southie mom drew backlash from Hollywood.

Photo via AP/Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Well, that was fast. A Boston City Councilor’s criticism of posters for the Showtime TV show SMILF erupted into a controversy that reached out into a few parts of the entertainment industry this weekend, drawing blowback from the show’s creator Frankie Shaw and Seth MacFarlane, of Family Guy and Ted fame.

The show, which also stars Shaw, follows her adventures as a single mother in Southie, and has drawn mainly positive reviews. But lately, arguments have broken out regarding the program’s advertising.

It all began last Tuesday, when newly minted city councilor Ed Flynn wrote a deeply critical Facebook post about the show. And he really went for it. Southie constituents, he wrote, had told him they found the show to be a “degrading, crude and inaccurate portrayal of their life in the neighborhood” and wanted to see the ubiquitous ads for it in local bus shelters removed. He agreed with them. “I’m tired of Hollywood making a profit off of these abysmal shows that in no way capture the real lives, character and contributions of the people of Boston.” He wrote that he had asked that the posters be taken down (city officials later said they were already scheduled for removal).

Not surprisingly, Shaw felt compelled to respond, and penned a searing Facebook post of her own this weekend.

In it, she defended her artistic point of view, as well as the show’s eye-catching name, and highlighted some of the themes addressed by the show, including sexual abuse, aging, and motherhood. She also touted her own Southie roots and highlighted some issues she thought he should focus on instead, like gentrification and keeping historic sites from being snatched up by developers. “My own family can’t afford to live in Southie anymore,” she wrote. It also did not help that Flynn has apparently never seen the show. So she invited him to do so.

On top of that, she took aim at what she saw as a double-standard for male auteurs making Boston-set movies that are sillier and more violent than what’s on SMILF. “[J]ust like Ben Affleck and Seth MacFarlane, who came into town to make their very male art of chasing women, robbing banks, and getting high with teddy bears, I’d like the same consideration to tell the stories that are important to me.”

MacFarlane—whose popular cartoon is based in a fictional town in Rhode Island, and who directed the movie Ted, about a foul-mouthed Boston teddy bear—also weighed in on Twitter. He took Shaw’s digs in stride, and criticized Flynn, saying “it’s troubling when anyone, politician or otherwise, suggests a story should not be told or a character should be censored.

“Make room, Ed,” he added.

What a week!