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SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Shrill - Season One - Advance Preview

13 Mar 2019

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Shrill Premieres on March 15, on Hulu.

I previewed a show a couple of months ago that seemed to stir quite a bit of strong feelings across the board. The show's premise was based on a young lady that had starved and lost weight and was now seeking revenge on the many people that mistreated her when she was fat. The show got a lot of bad press which didn’t deter it from getting a second season; which I will review if I get to see it early. Why am I talking about that show which shall not be named? In my internet skulking on various forums discussing Hulu’s new upcoming show about a fat girl living her life blissfully. I saw many pseudo-concerns about what the Hulu show was about and why it was not necessary. A majority of the online noisemakers were perturbed by the fact that Hulu was promoting a show encouraging women to be “unhealthy.” I cannot get into what makes one person healthy over another but by the time I quit reading the comments my eyes were tired from all the rolling they had to endure.

Apparently, people have things they fret about regularly; Seeing a fat girl happy, trying to have a normal life without obsessing continuously over her weight should not be a trigger for bullies, but alas it is. So that’s the gist of the minimal - I hope, trolling you will encounter if you venture into the show's hashtag. Do not despair; I am here to assure you that Shrill is not about a bitter, depressed woman who hates herself and wants everyone to be fat. It is breathtakingly fresh with characters that you will fall in love with I promise. Also, others that will push your buttons in ways that might cause you to yell vulgar words at whatever device you will be watching from, but it will all be worth it at the end.

Aidy Bryant is Annie a talented young writer working hard doing what she loves. When we meet Annie, she is assigned to the calendar section of The Weekly Thorn, an online magazine where she works as a writer. Annie is smart and is very confident in her penning abilities – Enters John Cameron Mitchell who gives an incredible performance as Annie’s Editor Gabe. Gabe is your proverbial pretend well-intentioned person “in the fight with you” but at the same time contributes to the regressive world that is handing you a thrashing.

Gabe is glib and, and countless times I wanted to slap the smirk out of his face. Despite Gabe’s passive aggressive behavior towards her, Annie is determined to get a spot in the magazine to write a well-researched article that would utilize her superb skills. When Annie eventually gets an opportunity to visit a strip club to write about their buffet food, she meets a fabulous group of dancers who give her more than she had been searching for. She writes an impressive article albeit not what her editor had asked for; which sets Gabe into a raging frenzy. He reads the article and threatens to cut some of it but eventually does not. Annie’s visit to the strip club and subsequent published work sets the tone for the show after episode two.

Annie’s boyfriend Ryan made me want to shake the lights out of her several times throughout the six episodes. Luka Jones has mastered the art of acting like the disturbingly repulsive, abhorrent boyfriend and he does not disappoint in this role. The show takes you through Annie’s six-month roller coaster of a relationship with a selfish and insensitive man that I couldn’t be convinced in a million years cared for Annie. Ryan is so much of a slob, and yet Annie is the one society comfortably hounds about her not “acceptable” size. Annie is in a different league though, she cares about Ryan but is not preoccupied with the relationship to the point of self-neglect. Annie does not run and hide when he does obnoxious things but confronts him even when he uses manipulation tactics to gain the upper hand. In one of the episodes, she invites him to an event at The Weekly Thorn, but he never shows up because he is hosting a pencil fighting party with his friends. Yes, you read that correctly, and I completely understand your shock.

Lolly Adefope is Fran, Annie’s best friend and roommate, who is warm-hearted and sweet. Flawed in her own ways like all of us but keeps it real with Annie. What sets the friendship with Fran apart is how relatable she and Annie are. Fran is not the usual thin roommate who is put there to psychological torture the fat roommate, so we don’t get the constant insecure comparison narrative from Annie who essentially drives the story for the viewer. In an emotional episode where Annie has to make a difficult decision. Fran shows up for her and is available emotionally. Fran is not a one-dimensional friend who is there as a filler, she is Annie’s confidant as well as a buffer when her mother tries to make her feel inadequate.

Annie is close to her parents especially her father who shares the love of music and dance with her. The gloriously funny Julia Sweeney is Annie’s mother who is a little stifling and consumes all the energy whenever she is around. Annie’s father is going through cancer treatment which makes her mother a cranky caregiver who is overwhelmed with making sure her husband eats healthy food but also does not waste any opportunity to point out to Annie that she needs exercise. This persistent badgering from a parent can break an individual, but Annie is different. She has learned to push back, and she makes sure that her mother understands the impact of her words.

Throughout the episodes we see Annie deal with offensive people from a random trainer who offers to help her look "beautiful." An online troll that couldn’t stop calling her names in the comments section of her articles but when Annie confronts him, she finds a lonely malicious boy who could not stand a fat woman's marvelous writing. When you are consistently treated like you do not belong, you develop a protective nature and end up exhibiting selfish behavior. Amadi (Ian Owens) calls Annie out on this when he offers to take her to find her online troll. Amadi is Annie’s work friend who encourages her to advocate for herself more and to seek an audience with Gabe to get better writing assignments. Amadi is a good friend who makes the decision to walk out with her when she finally tells Gabe to shove it.

This is where I tell you to watch Shrill...

Shril is not an infomercial for "unhealthy" behavior as declared by some online; I also don't understand why we always seem to perceive fat people as "unhealthy." because who determines what's unhealthy and what is not? There are a plethora of shows on television if you look hard enough that one might consider as promoting "unhealthy" behavior and Shrill doesn't come close to any of that. Shrill is a magnificent show about a phenomenal writer who has to navigate this cruel world as a fat woman. It is about friendship, love, confidence, vulnerability and fighting the good fight. Shrill is about standing up for yourself and for others even when around those that are supposed to care show unkindness. Bryant's portrayal of Annie is endearing in a refreshingly real way. You cannot help but cheer for Annie in all honesty, I was just celebrating that Bryant was in a role that would tell a trainer off.

Conventional wisdom dictates that anyone whose size does not fall between certain single digit perimeters should be desolate and must devote all their time working towards remedying the one imperfection that society deems the worst. Annie does not believe in that simple-minded way of viewing life and neither should you.

Shrill is adapted from Lindy Wests amazing and funny book - Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. If you have read the book, I urge you to put it aside and try not to think about it when you get to watch this excellent show. The book is lovely, however, if you are like me, you might exhaust yourself trying to connect stuff from the book with what's happening on the show. Shrill is superbly written, acted and directed and deals with so many complex issues.

If you watch the show, please come back and let me know your thoughts about it.

Shout out to Claire for reading this through for me.