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Billie Frank, an out of work alcoholic actress, used to be somewhat of a star in her day, but now she's all washed up. With the help of her mother, Trudy, Billie tries to pick up the pieces of her life and move on. Billie meets Dave, a guy who lives in her apartment building, and is also an alcoholic. The show is based upon their relationship, along with all the others in AA with them. Written by
The character of Billie Frank is based upon Claudia Lonow's experience. Billie is an ex-soap actress who is famous for portraying a character called Diana Gateway in a series called "Emerald Bluff". Claudia Lonow is famous for portraying Diana Fairgate in Knots Landing (1979). See more »
I gave you life! The least you could do is cheerfully answer the door.
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Before this show aired in Finland, the channel aired these commercials, like, "Billie Frank drinks.. and has casual sex!" The voice of the presenter suggested that this was portrayed as something admirable. I thought I wouldn't watch such crap. But I happened to see one episode and was instantly hooked. The show just seemed real to me - the characters were rude, imperfect and at times completely selfish; there was no laugh track and the dialogue was more natural than on other shows; the humour was somehow very original, it stemmed from the characters' personalities in a natural way. Sexuality was dealt with in a daring way. Sherilyn Fenn was great as the imperfect Billie, Dave and Jackie were also brilliant characters, and of course Trudy who was really the second star of the show.
The topic and the way it was handled seemed realistic to me. I don't have much knowledge about the AA or alcoholism, but it just rang true to me how Billie's lifelong addiction and relapse was portrayed as an ongoing problem she needs to work against her whole life. On so many shows, you have this token alcoholic character (soap operas in particular) who goes on a drinking binge in one episode and recovers in the next. This show dared to show a more accurate portrayal: the long-term effects, the desperation for a fix and the ugliness of it all wasn't glossed over. It's a daring topic especially for a comedy, but they pulled it off. I felt like I could see life through the eyes of an alcoholic - and be entertained at the same time. Kudos.
When the show stopped being about the AA and decided to "move on" into Dave's bar, it got blah for me. Some of the edge was lost when it was no longer about addiction. It turned into a relationship comedy instead, and that is the end of many fine shows. Haley was cute, but essentially just a babbling, bumbling character who didn't add much to the mix. Tim Curry as Trudy's new boyfriend was good, but not good enough to keep the show funny. And what was all that crap about Marcus and his marriage crisis? Hey, let's add a new character who looks good without a shirt. Oh look, his wife's a bitch! Don't you wish we made an episode all about him? The last season was full of "emotional" moments that just seemed sappy to me. The whole marriage plot was the worst. The irony is that when the show dealt with genuine difficult things and touching themes, it was never sappy. When it started to deal with "touching" imaginary situations and love triangles, it lost its edge and became a sappy regular comedy. The only interesting theme in the last season was that Trudy was facing the truth about her addiction - but would she be funny anymore if she quit drinking? I doubt it. Characters like her don't need a "serious" side; they're tragic in themselves, that's why they're funny.
But the last season can't wipe away what this show did in the first ones. One of the most daring and genuine comedies I've ever seen. Highly recommended.
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