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City councilor says ‘SMILF’ degrades South Boston women, wants ads removed

A promotional image for Showtime’s “SMILF” series. SHOWTIME

City Councilor Ed Flynn has called for the removal of posters around Boston promoting the show “SMILF,” a Golden Globe-nominated series, recently filmed in the city, that tells the fictional story of a single mother living in South Boston.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Flynn said disgusted constituents have lodged complaints that the Showtime series, starring Frankie Shaw, who has roots in the area, casts the people and families from the neighborhood in an unflattering light.

“The proud mothers I know from Southie, who work so hard for their families and our community, have told me they find it unwatchable as it is a degrading, crude, and inaccurate portrayal of their life,” Flynn said in the statement. “I’m tired of Hollywood making a profit off of these abysmal shows that in no way capture the real lives, character, and contributions of the people of South Boston.”

Flynn, whose district includes South Boston, Chinatown, the South End, and Bay Village, said he noticed a number of advertisements displayed around the city at bus shelters to promote the series, which first aired in November last year and has been renewed for a second season.


The appearance of the ads prompted Flynn to reach out “to officials from the City of Boston,” who he said “kindly agreed to remove these advertisements.”

Bus shelters in Boston are owned by the city, not by the MBTA, according to a T spokesman.

Boston city officials said that the ads were already on their way out the door, prior to Flynn’s complaint.

The “SMILF” posters were scheduled to come down this week, in place of new material, according to a statement. The ads had been booked for four weeks, with their time on display ending two weeks ago. Since then, the ads have been used as filler.


Flynn said in a telephone interview that he has not watched “SMILF,” which co-stars Rosie O’Donnell and Miguel Gomez. He did not know how many “SMILF” ads are up around the city, or if any have been taken down already.

The neighborhood blog first posted Flynn’s statement to its website on Tuesday, eliciting backlash from people who said it should be obvious that the show is a work of fiction.

“With all of the very real concerns that a City Councillor should be addressing it is alarming that this becomes one of your earliest efforts,” one person wrote.

On Flynn’s Facebook campaign page, however, the responses ranged from supportive of the elected official’s call to action, to very against it.

“Yes! Excellent work Ed,” one person said, echoing several other comments.

But others weren’t as impressed.

“This is embarrassing. Just turn the channel if you don’t want to watch the show,” someone said. “You represent all of South Boston not one particular group. Please address the real issues that impact this community.”

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.