Shrill is a Hulu series about Annie, an overweight woman who, as the show promises, “wants to change her life without changing her body.” It basically doubles as a half-hour fat shaming show where she refuses to be shamed.
So here’s the thing. I’m overweight too. And I love people who want to embrace themselves, their true beings, etc. But a show that drags out every fat shaming stereotype, puts it on steroids, and dresses it up for humour doesn’t “burst the fat shaming bubble”, it just makes it seem ridiculous.
And, quite frankly, Annie is a mess. She’s passive with her job, avoids confrontation with everyone, seems to like her boyfriend mostly because she likes having one, and while somehow being self-aware and loving herself, her giant “I’m okay” moment is that she gets pregnant and has an abortion. There are lots of reactions that studies have shown after an abortion. Suddenly figuring out who you are is not a common one. She bounces back the next day, new dress, new girl, taking control of her life.
Annie is played by Aidy Bryant, and it feels like one long SNL skit that has no end. She’s okay, but no real presence for most of the episode because she is so passive. Her boyfriend Ryan, played by Luka Jones, is more of a plot device than a presence. Annie’s parents are played by Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern, and I was disappointed Daniel didn’t have more to do…the voice of Dilbert, the narrator of The Wonder Years, and the best friend in City Slickers, and he has a minute or two of screentime.
The only real scene that works in the whole episode is a dramatic moment in the middle. Annie is having a conversation (in the middle of a rummage sale) with her best friend and roommate Fran. And Annie is having her moment where she is basically confronting her life, her weight and her pregnancy, and Fran has a reality check conversation with her that basically tells her she’s worthwhile as a person and deserves everything she wants and dreams. Annie is almost watchable, but Fran is awesome. Played by Lolly Adefope, Fran has the best scene and lines of the EP. Too bad it went for light-hearted comedy everywhere else, because this scene worked.
Based on the premise, I would have predicted CANCELLATION. After watching, I would leave it there. Except it’s Hulu and they like shows showing they’re socially relevant, and it’s already been renewed. I hope it went somewhere better than FAT PERSON MAKES GOOD.