March 18, 2019

CABLE | Meek Meets Chic – Aidy Bryant Acts 'Shrill'

"I've got big t*tties and a fat ass. I make the rules!"
Aidy Bryant Ian Owens Lindy West Ali Rushfield | Shrill Hulu

Longtime Saturday Night Live standout Aidy Bryant stars in the new six-episode Hulu original comedy series loosely based on writer Lindy West's bestselling 2016 memoir collection of essays, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, inspired on her own experiences as a fat woman navigating single and professional life in Seattle—switched to Portland (where it's filmed) for the show.

Shrill really lets Bryant show her talent and muscle beyond her obvious comedic skills with a more subdued, longer-form performance that really develops an enticing slow burn character piece. The premise is simple. Bryant's Annie wants to change her somewhat boring, dissatisfied life as a young woman working at an alt-weekly newspaper (called "The Weekly Thorn") without changing her body—something many others in her life (also total strangers) constantly suggest she do unsolicited.

It was important for West and Bryant to show Annie as a positive character with a passionate sex life, attractive partners, and fully-realized traits beyond her weight while also addressing how society treats everyday people with different body types. She has a full life beyond any self-esteem issues while living with her black lesbian roommate (Lolly Adefope) and slowly working towards her career as a journalist.

Annie deals with the usual personal setbacks including her loser (sort of) boyfriend, who is at least mildly ashamed of her, played goofily by a shaggy Luka Jones. Unsatisfied with her slow progress after a pregnancy scare, she starts asserting herself and fighting back against the daily microaggressions and body shaming thrown at her.

Aidy Bryant Lolly Adefope | Shrill Hulu

Her perfectly acerbic editor boss, a pitch perfect John Cameron Mitchell, is another amusing but real obstacle in her writing with encouragement from loud but supportive co-workers Ian Owens and Patti Harrison. Comedians Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern, as her well-meaning but ultimately encouraging parents, frame her initially meek but fulfilling life nicely.

Developed by Bryant, West, Ali Rushfield, and produced by Elizabeth Banks, Shrill acts suitably as a comedic release for a specific, lived-in young female experience in the adult world. Bryant's wonderful energy really grounds the simple but pleasant happenings of Annie's flawed but charming life. It's refreshing how interesting the dramatized everyday problems of real feeling people come off in the show.

Shrill is an endearing, sincerely comic showcase for Bryant as an all-around performer through West's voice. Their new series is such a tender, deeply personal yet bittersweet portrait of loving yourself and your body. The show provides such a lovingly lighthearted yet firmly body positive point-of-view and thoughtful depiction of relationships. It's quietly radical.

Shrill is available to stream on Crave in Canada (and on Hulu in the U.S.).

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