Hulu’s ‘Shrill’ is universal, honest

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Hulu’s “Shrill” stars Aidy Bryant (from “Saturday Night Live”) in a very honest, funny and thought-provoking portrayal of what it’s like to be a modern woman.  The true beauty in the show lies in its representation, and celebration, of diverse body types – something that is often lacked in mainstream media.

“Shrill” is based on writer Lindy West’s collection of essays that detail her life experiences as a fat woman learning to love herself.

Self-acceptance is quite a big theme in the show.  Throughout season one, Bryant’s character, Annie, learns how to fight for herself and take up space, both personally and professionally.  Annie works as a journalist and her boss outspokenly disproves of all the work she publishes, even though it’s often a hit among their audience and generates the most traffic to their website.  Despite this, Annie still writes her truth and knows her worth.

In her personal life, Annie is very soft-spoken, bubbly and kind.  She is the opposite of the word “shrill.” She wears bright colors and tries to appease the people in her life.  During the occasional times that Annie tries to stick up for herself, people are rude to her in response. While at a coffee shop, Annie talks to a personal trainer who says things to her like, “There’s a small person inside of you waiting to get out.”  While the audience sympathizes with Annie and can see that this is an unacceptable thing to say to someone, Annie just brushes it off with a joke. However, when the trainer keeps pressing, Annie responds with a “f— you” and the trainer lashes out at Annie.

Showing exchanges like these are important because they point out the everyday challenges that people face surrounding their weight – the constant judgment, harassment and overall rude manner in which people interact with them.  Because the show is about more things than Annie’s weight, it’s easy to forget that people respond to fatter women in aggressive ways. The show points a finger at the way we treat others while making the viewer realize how ridiculous it is that we put so much emphasis on size.

On the less dramatic side, “Shrill” depicts the mundane way that women in their 20’s go about their life.  That’s where the magic lies – it’s revolutionary, yet relatable and completely honest. For instance, the show is largely about Annie’s struggle to be in a healthy relationship.  In the first episode, Annie’s boyfriend, Ryan, won’t take her on dates or be seen with her in public. He even goes so far as to make her leave out of the back window instead of using the front door.  From what the audience knows, he has no job and his only hobby is running a podcast with his friends. However, Annie stays with him despite all of this in hopes that he will one day change, which is often a reality for a lot of women.

“Shrill” is the show that we need: an honest, heartfelt and thoughtful portrayal of what it’s like to be a woman in today’s society, while also bringing a universalness to the characters.

photo courtesy IMDb