Aidy Bryant as Annie in "Shrill"
Shrill -- Episode 103 -- Annie isn't going to let her troll ruin all the success she's had recently. So, she invites Ryan to a work event -excited to introduce her boyfriend into her life. Ryan (Luka Jones) shown. Annie (Aidy Bryant) shown. (Photo by: Allyson Riggs)

‘Shrill’ Portrays Its Plus-Size Protagonist With Nuance

The show will have you simultaneously laughing and reaching for the tissues, all while inspiring a sense of confidence that few other shows deliver.
February 24, 2020
7 mins read

In January 2020, nearly a year after its first season premiered on the streaming platform Hulu, “Shrill” returned with its second season and 14 new episodes for you to binge. I highly recommend you add this show to your watchlist and do just that.

What Is “Shrill”?

Hulu describes “Shrill” as a comedy that follows Annie, “a fat young woman who wants to change her life – but not her body. Annie is trying to start her career while juggling bad boyfriends, a sick parent, and a perfectionist boss.” That pretty much sums it up without spoiling it.

The episodes are around a half-hour each, so they’re easy to binge-watch, but not too long that they’ll lose your attention. The show’s content and dialogue is raunchy and hilarious — take a look at the cast and you could probably figure that out. Aidy Bryant, who you may recognize as a longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member, stars as the main character of “Shrill,” Annie Easton.

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Who Is Annie?

The main character, Annie Easton, is an incredibly likable person for a few different reasons. It’s not just her personality that is admirable, but I’ll start with that. To put it simply, Annie is fierce. We see that she is a good friend, a hard and dedicated worker and an overall strong woman. The first episode takes us full circle in viewing her personality. You may start out feeling sorry for her, but by the end of the first episode, you’ll be cheering her on.

When we’re first introduced to Annie, it’s immediately clear that she is a different main character than what we normally see on shows these days. She’s plus-size, and it’s refreshing to see the way “Shrill” lets that happen without trying to change her completely.

The way Annie dresses is cute. She’s often seen in pretty dresses and well-planned outfits. How many of us are used to seeing bigger girls in boring, frumpy outfits on television? Shout-out to “Shrill” for demonstrating that you can have a larger body type and still have fashion sense.

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Throughout the two seasons, we also see Annie develop relationships. These are handled naturally, unlike some shows where there’s a “Breakfast Club”-esque transformation and the “unlikely” girl gets the guy. “Shrill” proves that relationships exist for everyone without having to be a touching story or “act of mercy.”

Along with seeing Annie develop actual relationships, we also see her as a sexual being in multiple episodes. Not only is this an example of a woman being sexual and embracing it, but it’s a plus-size one at that. The show is not fetishizing these moments; it is depicting people’s actual reality, which we don’t always see reflected in the media.

Annie shows viewers that you don’t have to be a quiet girl when silenced by those around you. She doesn’t let anyone push her around, which is great to watch when you’re a person conditioned by society to be silent or a pushover.

Final Thoughts

Aidy Bryant’s performance in “Shrill” is commendable and fresh. If you’re used to her as a character actress on “Saturday Night Live,” you will probably be surprised at her consistent role as Annie. Bryant is fantastic in both “Shrill” and “Saturday Night Live,” and that just shows what an amazing actress she is.

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“Shrill” will make you laugh, it will make you upset, it will make you mad and it will make you think. A lot of the content of “Shrill” is uncomfortable but necessary for us to consume. I won’t say too much and spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but it covers some controversial topics and language. The first episode alone will send a bit of a shock to your system, as it contains the “whole nine yards” of controversial moments.

A show with content like this sparks discussion among viewers. It brings light to things we might ignore or avoid talking about in our day-to-day lives. By putting topics like these into shows and normalizing them, it makes it okay for the topics to be discussed.

In my opinion, there needs to be more shows like “Shrill.” As someone who may not always fit the standard of the media I consume, this is an incredibly refreshing show, and I recommend it. While we’re starting to see more shows that follow a similar premise, it should be more commonplace than one show per platform, if there is one at all.

“Shrill” takes the role of the “fat girl” and gives it a 180-degree flip. It takes a token character we’ve been conditioned to feel bad for and laugh at, and it makes that character one who inspires people to not force themselves into the standard that has been created for them. With a show like this, more people will be able to find a fire within to live for themselves and do what will make them happy, without caring what others think.

“Shrill” is overall entertaining, memorable and effective. Annie might not fit the body standards set by society, but that’s because she prioritizes more important things. The message of how Annie reacts to those around her can apply to the viewers’ reality and instill a sense of confidence in those who may not already see it themselves. If you find yourself struggling to relate to mainstream media, “Shrill” might have something for you. Whether you don’t fit the body type society tries to force you into, if you’re silenced at work or in life or if you feel like you’re always pushed aside, you might want to give this show a try.

If you would prefer to read something like “Shrill” instead of binge-watching the episodes, then check out the book the show is based on, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” by Lindy West.

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Lauren Buchko, Michigan State University

Writer Profile

Lauren Buchko

Michigan State University
Journalism and Media Relations

Hello! I’m Lauren and I have an interest in design and visual media. I love to experience new things and try to make life an adventure.

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