[In Movie Trailer Man voice] "Picture a world where a TV show descends on our lives in such a monumental way because it never talks down to its audience, encourages fat-positive storylines, sparkles with snappy writing, deals with straight and queer relationships with unflinching honesty, and stars one of the most under-rated SNL comedians of the past decade."
This world is right now, friends, thanks to Shrill, a Hulu original based on the book of the same name by Seattle writer Lindy West, who rose to public attention when she wrote about being a fat woman in a society demanding body conformity, which is a surfacing theme in this fantastic show.
Why am I stanning so hard for Shrill? Aidy Bryant slays, firs of all. She was always a standout comedian IMO, especially when she showed her range on SNL. She can face-act with the best of them, and there's something about the realness of Bryant's personality that comes through in everything she does, especially in Shrill.
To go as spoiler-free as I can, Bryant stars as Annie Easton (Lindy West=Annie Easton...Get it?) a journalist for an alt-weekly paper called The Thorn, and also dipping her toes into a relationship with dopy Ryan (Luka Jones). Thing is, she's not really happy with either situation, the dating game made even worse when Ryan mumbles to Annie how he wants to keep it casual, just sex and nothing more committed than that.
Season 1 focuses on those dynamics, and flushes out Annie's passion to tunnel deeper into essay writing. She wants to discuss what it's like to be a fat woman in media and online, so much so there's this standout episode where a troll goes too far with Annie and she-
I'll stop myself there, for fear of your damn-you-for-spoiling-Shrill! hate mail. Let me just say, the writing is so sharp and realistic and crackling, it makes every episode a pure joy to watch. The recent second season flew by to me because each episode's pace never relented and the characters became even more compelling to follow.
One of my fave surprises in this show was discovering British actress Lolly Adefope, playing Annie's best friend Fran. Her queer relationships shift us into another perspective on what it means to be alone as a couple, to be single for the sake of avoiding pain, and navigating the awkwardness of being openly queer with conservative parents.
I don't remember seeing an entire TV series (as opposed to a scene or half an ep) that dealt with fat-shaming as confidently as Shrill has, and it's refreshing to hear Bryant's and West's perspectives on the struggles they faced growing up in a skinny-obsessed world. But what makes this show so nuanced is how it shines a light on the camaraderie these women feel with each other, made particularly clear in an episode starring a plus-sized pool party delighting Annie to no end.
For some reason, no one is talking about Shrill. I haven't talked to friends recommending it or seen Facebook posts from less-than-friends praising its binge-worthy glory. But I will. Gladly. It's a must-watch show no matter where your experience lies with dating, body image issues, struggling to make it as a writer. What matters is that Shrill is the definition of #realtalk, and gives a voice to marginalized groups of people who deserve to share their stories now more than ever.
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