Report: ‘SMILF’ creator Frankie Shaw investigated for on-set misconduct

One actress has reportedly left the show over the handling of her sex scenes.

Frankie Shaw as Bridgette Bird in SMILF (Season 1, Episode 8). - Photo Credit: Claire Folger/SHOWTIME. - Photo ID: SMILF_108_1634.R.jpg
Frankie Shaw as Bridgette Bird in "SMILF." –Claire Folger/SHOWTIME

On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter published a report stating that numerous people involved with the production of the Showtime TV series “SMILF,” created by and starring Brookline native Frankie Shaw, have lodged complaints, triggering an investigation by producer ABC Studios.

THR quoted staffers who said Shaw “uses this idea of being feminist and a progressive as camouflage,” and that “people were really traumatized” on the set of the series, which films in the Boston area and wrapped its second season earlier this year. None of the sources with grievances spoke on the record with THR due to fear that Shaw would attempt to “sabotage them professionally.”

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Additionally, while THR reported that no writers for the show have filed formal complaints through the Writers Guild of America, several sources told the trade publication that writers of color were segregated from the show’s white writers, and that their ideas were being “exploited without pay or credit.”

Finally, THR reported that actress Samara Weaving left the show due to the handling of her sex scenes. On “SMILF,” Weaving plays Nelson, the love interest of Rafi (Miguel Gomez), who is the father of Shaw’s character’s child.

According to THR’s reporting, during season one filming, Weaving was asked to perform a nude love scene with only 40 minutes’ notice despite her contract’s no-nudity clause. (Per THR, “An insider says a waiver had been prepared but wasn’t signed.”) When Weaving balked, Shaw reportedly pulled Weaving into a trailer and “yanked off her own top and demanded to know why Weaving had a problem being nude” when Shaw did not.

A second issue arose during a day when Shaw wasn’t on set. Prior to Weaving and Gomez performing a love scene, they told “SMILF” director Cate Shortland about Shaw’s previous behavior and requested a closed set with outside monitors turned off during filming, according to THR. When Shaw texted a staffer to ask how shooting was going and was told that the monitors had been turned off, THR reported that she ordered them turned on, an order that staffers carried out without telling Weaving and Gomez.

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Variety reported on Monday that ABC Studios has completed an investigation into Shaw’s alleged misconduct that was prompted after Weaving complained to a director and actress Rosie O’Donnell, who plays Shaw’s mother in the series. According to Variety, O’Donnell forwarded Weaving’s complaint, leading to a human resources investigation at ABC Studios. Variety reported that ABC Studios “concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part” but that Weaving “was released from her contract at her request, and is not expected to join the show for a potential third season.”

In a statement given to THR through her attorney, Shaw said that she works daily “to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager.”

“I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control,” Shaw told THR. “It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard.”

Boston.com confirmed that the planned Jan. 20 premiere date for the show’s second season has not changed and that season three of the show has not yet been ordered.

In an emailed statement, ABC Studios said that the company “is committed to a safe work environment, and when we are made aware of issues we address them appropriately.”

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“Complaints were brought to our attention after season two production wrapped, and we are investigating,” ABC Studios said in the statement. “We will take appropriate steps going forward if season three is ordered.”

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