‘Florida Girls’ Delivers Hilariously Trashy Laughs From the Trailer Park
Pop’s new comedy series, “Florida Girls,” is a laugh-out-loud funny companion to the network’s comedy series “Schitt’s Creek.” Fans of the “Creek” will rejoice, as this is about another ragtag family, this time a chosen one is struggling to get by and sometimes get better. Living in a trailer park, the members of the female quartet find themselves spinning their wheels and filling their nights (and days) with partying, squabbling, and periodically learning something. And all of this is punctuated by a fantastic hip-hop soundtrack.
Based on the series creator, actress, and writer Laura Chinn’s life growing up in the Sunshine State, the show is set in Clearwater Beach, Florida, where the four titular girls share a trailer in a rundown mobile home park populated with rednecks. Friends since they were 5, all are high school dropouts, whose lives change when the fifth member of their circle gets her GED and flees the state for Ohio. This leads to a lightbulb moment for Shelby (Chinn). She determines to get her own GED and improve her own life. The problem is, her three besties don’t have a problem staying in place.
Kaitlin (Melanie Field, a lead on the ill-fated “Heathers” TV reboot) is a big, brassy personality who lives for fights and is content bartending at the local seafood-inspired dump Barnacles where they all work. Jayla (Laci Mosley) does want to get out of the trailer park, but she intends to find a rich man to help her do so, and her 57-year-old sugar daddy, Harold (Chris Williams), owner of two Applebee’s, is hardly a sure thing. Erica (Patty Guggenheim) is a dim-witted klepto who’s the least driven of all of them. Coming from a horrifying life of squalor, she feels like she’s won the lottery sleeping on the floor of their trailer.
This is not to say that Shelby, as a straight woman, doesn’t have her own issues. She’s forever reminding people that she is biracial, yet no one believes her, because she hardly looks it. Recently busted for a DUI and being the only one with a car, every time they have to go somewhere, she needs to use a breathalyzer to start the ignition. When she’s not sober, she has to recruit someone else to help out, including bribing a neighbor kid with gum.
Each episode has the girls embarking on some fairly minor escapade, such as scraping up $70 to pay the power bill or attempting to have a quiet night in, but they all have story arcs that are moving ahead. The show doesn’t reset at the end of every episode, which works in its favor. The girls may not have ambitious life goals, but they do take baby steps, and every step forward, no matter how small, is still a step forward. And that gives the show both depth and momentum.
Showcasing people this poor could be depressing, but “Florida Girls” is anything but. More people will likely relate to this than to something like “Gossip Girl.” The characters are broad caricatures but they’re also grounded and relatable. They’re all ignorant, and let’s face it, borderline stupid. It’s tempting to say they mean well, but oftentimes they don’t, and we’re all the better for it. Poking both gentle and pointed fun at the stereotype of white trash Floridians, the humor is wacky and absurd and surprising and inappropriate in all the best ways. Viewers might want to watch with subtitles just to be sure they don’t miss some classic throwaway lines.
Each actress makes her character pop. Guggenheim plays dumb with hysterical complexity. Mosley could have been just another sassy black girl, but she makes Jayla a full creation, funny and sexy and silly. Field makes what could have been a one-note bossy-bully performance into something imbued with pathos and a bit of sadness as she fights to keep her girls intact. And Chinn, presumably playing some amped-up version of herself, grounds everything in her desire to find a better life for all of them. She may be a wet blanket to her friends, but her simple, totally attainable goal of getting a GED is the heart of the show.
All in all, these girls are portrayed with humanity and, if not dignity, respect, and that keeps the show from being mean-spirited. They’re struggling, and even if this life is foreign to some, we all struggle, so we can all relate. You might not want to be these Florida girls, but you’re going to want to hang out with them.
“Florida Girls” premieres July 10 and airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Pop.