Frankie Shaw On What A ‘SMILF’ Is, And How She Became One On Showtime

photographed by john clayton lee. styled by virginia fontaine.

The multihyphenate is making heavy topics a little bit lighter

The following feature appears in the October 2017 issue of NYLON.

Frankie Shaw is concerned that she’s being too serious. “I want to tell you more fun stuff,” she says, interrupting her explanation of the inspirations behind her forthcoming semi-autobiographical Showtime series, SMILF, which she wrote, directed, and stars in, about the trials of being a twenty-something single mom, and her 2016 short, Too Legit, in which a woman named Sully (Zoë Kravitz) finds out she’s become pregnant after a rape. The trouble is that the subjects Shaw focuses on are really serious. Her genius is that she turns them into comedic gold. “I feel comfortable making stuff, but I don’t like to express it as myself—I like to let the work talk for me,” she says.

Sitting on the sofa of her Hollywood office at Sunset Gower Studios, her hair tossed in a topknot, Shaw, 35, looks every bit the part of Bridgette Bird, SMILF’s alarmingly pretty basketball enthusiast who has no problem drawing the attention of men, but struggles to keep it once they discover she’s a mom. It’s nearly six o’clock on a summer night and Shaw and her team of writers show no signs of leaving soon. Even on three hours of sleep, her conversation darts between the kind of laugh- out-loud personal anecdotes that have found their way into her work and the harrowing history of the mistreatment of women that has made her certain these stories deserve to be told.

For example, Shaw, a Brookline, Massachusetts-raised Barnard grad, ended a two-year sexual dry spell after the birth of her son, Isaac (now 9), while he slept on a small bed on the floor in the same room. That’s in the show. So is the time she had to bring her son to a Breaking Bad audition. “I’m really interested in how as a culture we don’t support mothers,” she says. “It’s sort of this hypocrisy that motherhood is as American as apple pie kind of thing, and yet you really cannot be in this country and be a participant in the workforce [if you are] a primary caregiver.”

Instead of dwelling on the hair-pulling state of inequality in the world, she takes a wide-eyed and grinning dive into a story about the time she and Isaac rented a room from a family, who, along with owning a litany of animals including a baby goat, wouldn’t allow their tenants into any part of the house, “except the kitchen to make a meal quickly,” she says, laughing in disbelief. Within months of moving in, she and Isaac hightailed it to a friend’s place. “We moved every three months for two years. Normally you have your shit together by the time you have a kid. Being a single mom when Isaac was so small was so hard, but there were so many victories, too.”

Serious or not, Shaw makes hardships genuinely fun to talk about. She makes the personal universal and the universal personal, all while drawing necessary attention to oft-ignored subjects. Too Legit, which she wrote and directed, follows Sully the morning after she’s been raped. The woke comedy unfolds with misogynistic absurdism—the funniest lines from the film are also the most enraging because they, too, are lifted from real life. “When the body is legitimately raped, the cells have a way to detect evil sperm from the love sperm, and generally the body will shut the whole thing down,” says Sully’s doctor, repeating the theory put forth by former Missouri congressman Todd Akin to support his anti-abortion stance. When asked how loudly she said “No” to her rapist, Sully replies, “I didn’t want to cause a scene,” an echo of the 15-year-old New Hampshire student who, in a courtroom cross-examination, said she allowed her rapist to take off her shirt because, “I didn’t want to be offensive.” “We operate in sort of a level of being numb to certain things,” says Shaw. “That short specifically was about, ‘What if we actually say the stuff that we’ve now sort of just accepted?’”

Shaw was not born a confident torchbearer of women’s rights. In fact, she says, “It’s not lost on me that this couldn’t have happened 10 years ago.” She shouts out women who paved the way for her, including Transparent executive producer Jill Soloway and Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke—both early supporters of her work. So, too, Shaw admits that 10 years ago she didn’t even know that she was capable of writing, let alone running her own show. It took years on set as an actress with the likes of the Duplass brothers on The Freebie and Sam Esmail on Mr. Robot to help her recognize her own point of view. And, necessity being the mother of invention, she reached a breaking point in the single-mom struggle. “I was sick of auditioning and being so broke,” she says.

It was her then-boyfriend and now-husband, writer Zach Strauss, who suggested she put proverbial pen to paper. And after taking home her first steady network paycheck for ABC’s Mixology in 2014, she suddenly had the means to actually shoot what would become the first version of SMILF, a short that premiered at Sundance a year later and took home the Jury Prize. “I just did it,” she says. “And then after doing it, I was like, ‘Oh, I can.’” Now she finds directing and running her own show surprisingly “instinctual,” and “the most fulfilling thing,” made all the more so by getting to leave a long day of work to kick up her feet with Isaac in the home that they have no plans on leaving anytime soon.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.