The satisfaction must be two-fold for Frankie. One, the sheer volume of high-quality TV content recently means the race for recognition is tighter than it's ever been. Two, Frankie's been plugging away on this show for no less than six years — she started her first draft at the end of 2012 and it aired in mid-2017 — so it's a classic case of her 'overnight success' being many years in the making. "It definitely makes me feel validated," she says, "and it's just such an honour to be recognised."
"I think that's a big Hollywood secret: you just don't give up."
The trick to succeeding in la-la land? "I guess it's persistence, right?" says Frankie. "You just keep going — I think that's the game of Hollywood, on some level. I'd auditioned for so many things in the past 10 years. It was always like, 'Oh you're so close but your screen testing . . . ' There was always this 'thing' that was going to change my life, but it always evaded me. I almost moved home! I think that's a big Hollywood secret: you just don't give up."
As a viewer, what makes SMILF so unmissable is that it serves as a semi-autobiographical slice of Frankie's life. In the real world, Frankie is a single mum trying to earn a stable living in Hollywood. In the show, Frankie's character Bridgette is a single mum trying to earn a stable living in Hollywood. Real-life Frankie is friends with her baby daddy Mark Webber, who's married to Australian actress Teresa Palmer. Character Bridgette is friends with her baby daddy Rafi, who's dating Australian Instagram star Nelson Rose (played to perfection by Samara Weaving, whom Frankie describes as "amazing" and "born for the role").
The comparisons between Frankie and Bridgette's experiences go on and so when I speak to Frankie on the phone, it's quite hard to differentiate her story from her character's, like you normally do when you interview an actor. But I think that's all part of the magic.
"When I had my son I was raising him alone and co-parenting with his dad," Frankie explains when I ask where the idea for the show came from. "We weren't together. There were a couple of years that were really hard for both of us. My son and I moved every three months. It was just a big struggle but there were all these funny stories that came from moving all the time and not having money for the babysitter. Not having money for gas in my car. Having all these odd jobs.
"I started writing a couple of years later because all these memories came back to me. I just thought it would be interesting to have a young woman who's dealing with discovering who she is while trying to be the best parent she can to her kid."
"I'm pretty comfortable doing anything, but I would never want any of my actors to be uncomfortable."
That fly-on-the-wall aspect is one of the best things about the show — and bloody hell, it's interesting watching a highly-sexualised single mum navigate her way through the dating scene. It's impossible not to laugh out loud when Bridgette demands details of the state of her post-baby vagina from the man she's literally busy having sex with.
When I ask Frankie if there are any lines she won't cross for the sake of entertainment, she laughs. "I'm pretty comfortable doing anything but I would never want any of my actors to be uncomfortable," she says. "I'll do nudity or crazy things or act really stupid . . . but I feel like that sets a good example. I know how difficult some sets have been for actors. It's sort of like, 'Let's get to know each other, build everyone's trust with me.'"