Frankie Shaw as Bridgette
“SMILF” star and creator Frankie Shaw revealed that Bridgette’s Craigslist misadventure in Season 1, episode 3 of the Showtime series was inspired by the actress’ “strange” real-life experience with the popular classified advertisements website. Showtime

Bridgette’s Craigslist misadventure in Season 1, episode 3 of “SMILF” was inspired by a “strange” real-life experience of series star and creator Frankie Shaw.

In last Sunday’s episode of the Showtime series, Bridgette (Shaw), who was looking for some fast cash to pay her rent, responded to a Craigslist ad from a man looking for company. While chatting with him at a grocery store, Bridgette surprisingly felt a connection with him. But things suddenly took a left turn when the man pushed his hand against Bridgette’s crotch without her consent, prompting the single mom to punch him in the face.

While Shaw has no experience being sexually assaulted at a grocery store, the actress revealed to Variety that she, like Bridgette, previously responded to a Craigslist ad for extra money. “ This one came from an experience I had in my life, when I had just graduated Barnard [College] and was extremely struggling, financially and in general,” she said of the inspiration for the episode. “I started fantasizing by going on Craigslist, with those ads like, ‘I’ll pay you to go to dinner,’ ‘I’ll buy you lingerie if I can watch you.’ That kind of thing. Not selling yourself for sex, but almost.”

Like Bridgette in the episode, Shaw said that she responded to one ad that said: “Go to dinner for money.” “Then I go to my waitressing job, and I tell a friend of mine. She goes, ‘You cannot go. You will not return from that yourself. You cannot recover,’” the “Good Girls Revolt” alum recalled. “So I canceled. I texted this guy, I’m just kidding, I’m not gonna go.”

But when the guy told her that he would give her $300 just to see her face, Shaw had a change of heart. “It was at Christmastime. I didn’t tell anyone. It was a secret. And I went,” the actress said. “He stuck his hand out the window and gives me cash and says, ‘You’re prettier than you know.’ I kept walking. I took the money and I kept walking. I felt so strange. I kind of blocked it out. Didn’t tell anyone. Well, now I can buy some Christmas presents. It was so strange.”

Shaw shared that experience with the show’s writers, and when they started to wonder what could have happened if Shaw hung out with the guy, the idea for the episode was conceived.

As for Bridgette’s bold response to the assault, Shaw told The Hollywood Reporterthat it was more of a wish fulfillment than mere reflex. “I think a lot of times the normal response to assault and trauma is either to freeze or dissociate, or tell yourself it’s not happening,” Shaw said. “So it is what you would think one would do, and wish fulfillment being that you’re standing up to yourself in a very specific, intelligible way, and getting a little bit of revenge. So yes, I would say that it was just, in a way, what everyone wants to do. I remember being on the subway in New York City and some man grabbed me, grabbed my genitals, and I froze up, and then just got off on the next stop. And I wish I’d just clocked his face.”

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“SMILF” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime.