With the roll out of so many spring premieres of our favorite shows like “Veep” and, eventually, “Game of Thrones,” it’s easy to look past some of the best new series making their way to the small screen this season. The brand new Hulu show “Shrill,” starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Aidy Bryant, is one that will sneak up on you and double you over with laughter one minute and crying the next.
Based on the 2016 book “Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman” by Lindy West, the show follows Bryant’s character, Annie, as she tries to navigate her professional life as a journalist in Portland, Oregon, while also trying to break free of the negative perception that society has created for women who are overweight. Normally more reserved and quiet, Annie has an epiphany and begins to the take control over the things in her life that are holding her back, including her toxic romantic and personal relationships as well as her relationship with her gaslighting boss Gabe, played to smarmy perfection by John Cameron Mitchell.
West’s book moved Bryant so much that choosing to play the role of Annie, as well as to co-write and produce the show, was a no-brainer. “I read Lindy’s book and I loved it so much,” said Bryant at the show’s premiere. “I immediately felt like I wanted to dive right into it.”
It was a similar situation for showrunner Ali Rushfield, as she was completely enamored by West’s story and her unique perspective on the world. “I was working with Warner Bros.,” recalls Rushfield. “I read the book and assumed I wouldn’t be interested in it. Then I thought, it was such an amazing story that should be on TV. It wasn’t that complicated!”
Actor Luka Jones plays Ryan, Annie’s semi-employed on-and-off love interest who hosts an Alcatraz-themed podcast with his friends called “Talkin’ Traz.” Ryan is completely oblivious to Annie’s emotional needs, forgoing all formality to deepen their connections by simply texting a one syllable, four-letter word booty calls (rhymes with “puck”) and having her exit out the back door so his roommates don’t see her. His outlook completely changes after he is confronted by Annie and he begins to not take her for granted.
In many ways, Ryan can be viewed as the audience member who could most use a course correction after seeing the powerful message in “Shrill. “
“It’s an attractive aspect to the character,” says Jones. “I think that there will be people who watch the show who are like Ryan who will be defensive for him, but since it’s not them they will hopefully empathize with Annie and will reflect a little bit.”
The series unfolds with Annie becoming more emboldened and going after what she wants and deserves in life, even if that means blowing up the life that she already has. If the show gets picked up for a second season, Rushfield believes things will only get messier before they get better for Annie.
“I think she is such a bullet of accomplishments,” said Rushfield. “From being quiet and afraid to become louder. I think she’ll have to spin out in the future.”
You can watch all six episodes of season one of Shrill on Hulu right now.