Shrill Aidy Bryant

While staring at an exercise advertisement in a coffee shop, Annie (Aidy Bryant) is confronted by “Toned Tonya,” the woman pictured in the ad. She speaks to Annie in a condescending manner, talking about her weight as if it’s a burden of some sort. “There’s a small person inside of you, dying to get out!” Tonya says with enthusiasm (and unknowing disrespect). Annie’s weight (and the conversation surrounding it) is something that many plus-size women experience.

The first two episodes of Hulu’s Shrill work to set the tone that Annie’s weight, living as a plus-sized woman, is apart of her life – but there’s more to her life than that. And it makes for an endearing, personable and funny start to the series.

Annie is a character looking for more in her life. She’s the Assistant Calendar Editor of The Weekly Thorn, but wants to write features. She’s in a six-month casual sex “situationship” with Ryan (Luka Jones) but is tired of being hidden from his friends and family. After getting pregnant by Ryan – and finding out that, surprisingly, Plan B doesn’t work on women who weight more than 175 pounds – Annie makes a choice on how to move forward with her life. It sparks Annie to actively seek more and be assertive. She’s making the changes to her life and as a result, she’s realizing that her body doesn’t need to change as well.

Shrill gives Aidy Bryant the star vehicle she deserves. She’s always been funny on Saturday Night Live, but we’ve never been able to see everything that she’s capable of doing. The humor of this series is far different from SNL – there’s no costumes or silly, over-the-top premises. The humor here is stripped down, more cutting, and built more around conversation. Bryant delivers, playing the role of an unsure but affable woman trying to re-route her life.

Annie’s interactions with those around her also make the show great, especially her conversations with Ryan, as his clueless demeanor makes for a frustrating but hilarious watch. However, it’s Annie’s relationship with her roommate Fran (Lolly Adefope) that provides the heart of the show. Fran is a British queer Black woman whose cool personality but unwavering support of her friend feels authentic. It’s also refreshing to see a plus-sized woman whose friend doesn’t play into the “perfect and skinny” trope. Fran is also plus-sized with great fashion sense and bold choices. It’s great to see her confidence shine, even when Annie isn’t feeling her best about her body.

Shrill works because it offers a more realistic view of the changing feelings around women’s bodies. There’s a life beyond size, and dare I say it, a love and appreciation for the size you’re in. As a plus-sized woman, I can see myself in Fran and Annie. There are some down days, like every woman experiences. But overall, size doesn’t matter when it comes to having a life full of friends, laughter and ambition. And that’s a great place to be.

/Film Rating: 9 out of 10

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