After debuting as one of the newer series on Hulu earlier this year, Shrill immediately made it clear that it would be groundbreaking for many reasons including being a huge win for representation. But Bryant’s journey towards co-writing and co-producing the show wasn’t necessarily an easy one, as the actor and comedian recently revealed in an interview with Adweek.
The SNL Star recently revealed that the core idea for Shrill came as a result of receiving a number of insensitive roles, “There was one where — and I don’t think it has ever seen the light of day — a man was in prison and the other guys in prison were like, ‘You’ve got to get an ugly girl to be your prison wife and she’ll come and bring you food and have sex with you!'” Aidy said. “And then they were like, ‘And that would be you.’”
The actor was understandably offended by these character descriptions, and even moreso, realizing that the casting directors thought of these roles as “fun” for her. “Those were some of the moments where I was like, ‘Is this what it is in Hollywood?’” Aidy recounted to Adweek. “‘I think I might have to write for myself….’”
Shrill, instead, gives us Annie, a woman whose size is sometimes part of the focus, but more often than not, it isn’t. Executive producer, Lindy West, explained the premise of the show and the effect she wanted to leave on the audience, “It was really important to us to make a show that wasn’t pedantic, and wasn’t about teaching you a lesson every week,” she told Teen Vogue in March. “It’s much more powerful to just tell a story about a dynamic, complicated human being, and how she interacts with the world; how the world treats her, and how she pushes back.”
Another strong and noteworthy feature about Annie is that she isn’t unhappy with herself, separating herself from a trope that can reinforce fatphobia. Her character is written as “a woman who wants to change her life — but not her body,” and that description is key for everyone, including Aidy herself who said. “I felt like the worst possible thing that anyone could ever do would be to think that I was fat, to call me fat,” the actor told NPR about growing up, adding:
“The second I stopped being afraid of someone calling me fat, I was able to start to focus on my goals and my dreams.”Aidy Bryant, NPR, 2019
Seeing as the new Hulu series has been recently renewed for a second season, Bryant and West are certainly on the ball as the show is surely becoming a hit with its audience and amassing its own fanbase. I believe that Shrill can teach everyone a lesson about how we don’t always need to look externally as the root of our problems. Even the skinniest person or biggest person may not have a problem with how they look and simply want to fix their self-confidence or another part of their personality or lifestyle. Our problems are what we make them and I believe Aidy Bryant’s and Lindy West’s vision for the show can teach viewers of a wide age range this subtle but significant lesson.