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TV Review: SMILF (Season 1, Episode 5)

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This week’s experimental instalment of SMILF takes the show’s traditional format and drives a hearse through it.

Run, Bridgette, Run is a half hour homage to German thriller Run Lola Run- it’s not the most famous reference, but one that’s befitting SMILF’s quirky cultural capital. It’s also stylish as hell, with references to the movie peppered liberally throughout including Bridgette’s periodic red dye job.

The fallout from last week’s episode remains raw, with Bridgette still furious that Rafi baptised Larry without her consent.

On Father’s Day - or Father’s Day for Mothers, as it’s known in the Bird household - Bridgette refuses to let Rafi or Tutu see her son. The episode is also written by Frankie Shaw’s husband, Zach Strauss, which is pleasingly meta.

The loss of Larry’s favourite panda toy spurs Bridgette to - you guessed it - run all over Boston attempting to find it.

Yet, where Run, Bridgette, Run really gets interesting is in its use of parallel universes; in each timeline, Bridgette finds a different object that triggers a different memory of where the panda may be.

SMILF is hardly the first sitcom to feature parallel universes- Community and Rick and Morty are two notable examples- but Shaw uses the alternate timelines to detail a single psychological process.

How Bridgette’s resentment towards Rafi and Tutu does or does not manifest results in four different outcomes, and all but one ends with a member of the family getting hit by a hearse.

Five episodes into the season, the SMILF formula of sexual humour and feminist theory has been sufficiently solidified that any departure from it feels unusual. Run, Bridgette, Run is a refreshing half hour that proves the show has a lot more to give, even if it remains flawed.

It’s perhaps appropriate that the topsy-turvy time travelling episode would upend what SMILF does well and what it needs to improve on. For once, the emotional elements of the show feel like its weakest point; the episode largely serves to resolve a plot point and contains little actual catharsis.

The comedy, on the other hand, is pitch perfect. Bridgette’s boss Ally is proving to be one of the funniest minor characters in the show, and her cringeworthy threesome proposal to Bridgette is both entitled and delightful.

Eliza’s and Tutu’s respective states of intoxication also yield some great moments, with Eliza stripping whilst high on mushrooms to lash out at her father and Tutu urinating on her parents’ graves. The dynamic pace of the episode really helps cram in an abundance of comedy gold.

Is Run, Bridgette, Run tangential? Yes. Is it skippable? Probably. But whilst Bridgette’s forgiveness of Rafi and Tutu could have happened off-screen, seeing her work through her sense of betrayal (even via increasingly absurd hearse deaths) says a lot about what this means to her and why she moves on anyway.

Run, Bridgette, Run isn’t perfect, but it’s bold. Frankie Shaw could have sat comfortably and continued with the show’s broadly successful dramedy niche, but she chose to experiment.  The familial happiness on display during the final scene is a hard won victory, and likewise this episode’s potential risks have paid off, for the most part. 

SMILF airs on Sky Atlantic every Wednesday at 10.00pm. 

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