Sit Down with Your Judgements, Shut Up, and Watch Shrill
On March 15, Hulu made big waves online after dropping their new show, Shrill. Shrill follows
the story of Annie Easton (played by Aidy Bryant of Saturday Night Live fame), a socially timid
but energetic young writer navigating life in Portland. In only six episodes, each under thirty
minutes, Shrill aims to both prove and defy the notion that good things come in small packages.
This series, while short and sweet, tackles some big issues that are often ignored, if not bashed,
by popular media. On top of the typical millennial stressors––relationships, work,
friendships––Annie’s overarching struggle throughout the series is her weight. Annie is fat. And
that’s not us at Jerk saying that in any remotely pejorative sense, because being fat is not a
pejorative thing. Bryant and co-writer Lindy West are using Annie as a vehicle to reclaim the
word “fat” and explain that a person’s body is not the sole thing that defines all other aspects of
The series actually ends up centering around an article Annie posts in response to her boss’
own fat-shaming titled, “Hello, I’m Fat” and guess what, the article actually exists. Lindy West
really did write “Hello, I’m Fat” in response to writer Dan Savage’s repeated posting about the
health issues he believes plague the lives of America’s overweight. In the show, Annie is
flooded with love from thousands of readers across the country in response to her article––love
that directly contrasts the implied hate she feels every day from the general public. In the article,
she talks about the bullshit claims people make about health concerns and taxes, as well as the
mental toll these claims have on people who, despite their personal feelings about themselves,
now have to carry a level of guilt as if their existence is a curse to their community.
Like most people, Annie wants to find a healthy and happy relationship, succeed at work and
feel good in her clothes. In a world that tells her the way to do that is by losing weight, the
audience is able to laugh and cry with Annie as she realizes just how untrue that really is. She
isn’t in a bad relationship because she’s fat, she’s in a bad relationship because she’s dating an
absent father who thinks his Alcatraz podcast counts as a full-time job. She’s not struggling at
work because she doesn’t ‘have the energy’ as her boss implies, but because her boss is an oppressively judgmental d-bag. It’s important to keep in mind as we learn these things through Annie that this material is not coming out of a vacuum. Bryant and West co-wrote each episode together using both painfully real and heartwarmingly human experiences to create the nuanced character that is Annie. Not to mention it makes it hit harder when Annie stands in front of her friends in tears, crying that she “is the obesity epidemic.”
At no point does the show aim to bash any form of eating or exercise habit, be it deemed
healthy or not. Just as they do not wish to be judged, the women of Shrill have no intention of
judging anyone else.
Set your preconceived notions aside for an evening, saddle up and settle
in with a bag of popcorn and a box of issues…I mean…tissues, and do yourself a favor by
bingeing the hilarious and emotional rollercoaster that is Shrill.