Shrill: The Body Positive Comedy We All Need
By Sam Baldwin
“Please don’t forget: I am my body,” said Lindy West in her memoir Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman. When my body gets smaller, it is still me. When my body gets bigger, it is still me. There is not a thin woman inside me, awaiting excavation. I am one piece.”
West’s memoir attracted attention back in 2016 for its frankness, humor, and emphasis on body acceptance. In one of the first chapters, West recalls that as a young girl, she never saw empowered and successful fat women in movies or TV. Assuming that other women felt the same, she decided to create the show she craved growing up: a fictionalized adaptation of her memoir, also called Shrill.
Shrill debuted on Hulu on March 15, starring SNL’s Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton. Annie is an aspiring journalist with a kickass sense of humor, a jerk of an editor, and a helplessly clueless boyfriend. Oh, and Annie is fat. She doesn’t mince words. And there is certainly not a skinny girl stuck inside of her.
Yet, while much of Annie’s journey is related to her weight, which she gradually begins to regard with confidence, Shrill is not about being fat. It’s about a woman finding confidence and success, not in spite of her weight, and not for anybody but herself. The series covers a lot in six short episodes. When we first meet Annie she is too passive for her own good, always making herself small. She takes backhanded compliments with a stiff smile, and she lets her kind of-boyfriend Ryan (Luka Jones) walk all over her. She even willingly hops his backyard fence after sex so he can avoid introducing her to his roommates.
But with support from her loveable and hilarious roommate, Fran, played by the showstopping Lolly Adefope, and a pep-talk from a stripper at the local club, Annie decides to take back her life. After all, according to the stripper, if "You've got a fat ass and big titties, you should be telling men what to do."
So Annie starts telling people what to do. She takes the reins back on her sex life, relationship, and job, and she does it in style. What makes Annie’s transformation so incredible, though, is that, besides an attitude adjustment, she doesn’t change much. There’s no major haircut, new wardrobe, or workout and diet regimen. Annie doesn’t have to change herself to be confident, because she’s not trying to please anybody. Instead, she’s saying “this is me, and it’s your loss if you can’t accept that.”
The show isn’t full of momentous moments or over-the-top action scenes. It’s about the small moments, like feeling sexy in a swimsuit for the first time, or eating leftover spaghetti from the tupperware with absolutely no regret. It’s about self-acceptance, refusing to be made small, and a reminder that healthy bodies come in every size. In these plugged-in days of social media models and fitness influencers, Shrill is the radiant and positive series we all need.