“Saturday Night Live’s” Aidy Bryant co-writes and leads a six-episode series about self-acceptance in Hulu’s “Shrill,” premiering March 15.
Based on writer/humorist Lindy West’s book “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” the story is another tale of a woman learning to ignore demands that she fit the universal standard of beauty. The theme has been visited many times on screen, most recently through Amy Schumer in “I Feel Pretty.” So the variable here is Bryant as Annie and Lolly Adefope as her homegirl/roommate/cheerleader Fran, a black brit who has little patience for white people problems…but is also the kind of ride-or-die who will hold your hand during an abortion. I found their friendship more interesting than Annie’s journey toward being truly unbothered by her body type.
Annie struggles to keep her head up amid fat shaming in all its forms – from a well-meaning stranger offering to be her personal trainer, to a mom who lovingly buys her a healthy meal subscription, to a boss from hell and an online troll far less subtle with their bullying. Several times, she is flat out called a “fat bitch.”
Annie’s walk toward reclaiming her time ebbs and flows before becoming a deliberate zero-f**k-strut over the six half-hour episodes. Employed as an editorial assistant at an online magazine, she plots a chance to write actual features. At home, she wants respect from her boyfriend (Luka Jones), the kind of guy who has no problem having sex with her, but takes great pains to hide her from his roommates. He’s a living, breathing representation of how little she thinks of herself.
Bryant exudes charm and warmth in the role, and an extra dose of vulnerability in scenes with her ailing father (Daniel Stern) and cheery mother (Julia Sweeney), clearly worn from trying to fix everyone.
“Shrill” will give you a solid, universal story of self acceptance, but Annie’s journey toward finally putting her foot down is equal parts inspiring and exhausting. Although you do root for her to get it together, at some point you just became Fran … laying in the cut, rolling your eyes and shaking your head at the humiliation Annie endures before her inner “f**k you” is finally unleashed. Literally.
The series is executive produced by “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels, Elizabeth Banks, showrunner Ali Rushfield, Lindy West, Andrew Singer of Broadway Video and Max Handelman of Brownstone Productions. Bryant co-writes with Rushfield and West. The series is produced by Warner Bros., Broadway Video and Brownstone Productions.