“I’m always wanting girls to be snarkier and shittier. Even from the beginning, I was like, ‘When do we get to have Annie just yelling at everyone?,’” Shrill staff writer Sam Irby jokes to Refinery29. The answer to her question is the Hulu comedy’s sixth episode, “Troll,” which also serves as the season 1 finale. Annie (Aidy Bryant) tells off BFF Fran (Lolly Adefope) for criticizing her fledgling relationship. She feuds with her terrible boss Gabe (John Cameron Mitchell) to the point of quitting. She even tracks down her hateful internet troll (Beck Bennett) and throws a giant cement planter through his window.
“That was my favourite thing ever,” Shrill star Bryant recalls of shooting the final scene of “Troll,” when Annie vandalizes her internet troll’s luxurious ride. Although Annie’s first attempt at smashing her digital harasser’s window fails, she tries again, and it works. Then the blogger runs into the night beaming. Saturday Night Live star Beck Bennet’s ridiculously pseudonymed The Awesome may be calling Annie a “fat bitch” but she’s too exhilarated to care.
“You’ve seen this bolder person. What kind of adventures can she get into now that she has a new attitude for herself. What does it mean to put that into practice?,” Bryant asks. “It’s not like a switch flipping and suddenly you’re totally confident and you’ve got it on lock. That’s not reality.”
That little word, “reality,” should be Annie’s biggest problem in season 2. Although her episode-ending dash from The Awesome’s wealthy home may feel triumphant, it’s also alarming. Annie is now a woman who left her job, imploded her biggest friendships, got into a screaming match with her parents (Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern), used shadowy internet means to cyberstalk her troll, learned his private address, showed up to his home, and destroyed his very expensive property. As Lindy West, whose 2016 memoir of the same-name inspired Shrill, laughs, “You can’t do that. That’s not good — come on, girl.”
“I don’t want to speak for the rest of the writers, but she’s kind of a mess,” West continues. “Yeah, Annie is growing in her power and confidence, and she’s kind of intoxicated by that. But she’s also taking it a little bit too far. She overshoots the finish line.”
That’s why the writer-executive producer hopes her TV avatar is destined for a reality check if Hulu orders more Shrill. “I think in season 2, she’s going to deal with the consequences of [the finale] and have to try to reel herself back in and put the parts of her life back together that she blew up,” West predicts.
It’s possible Shrill will fix Annie’s laundry list of problems by focusing on the many lovable characters in her life. That kind of world building would certainly help the series humanize all the people Annie yelled at during “Troll” (expect for The Awesome, who's just bad). West is already thinking about how such a move would work.
“What I would really love to do with season 2 is … just really open it up and get to know some of the amazing supporting characters,” the author says. “Who doesn’t want more Fran?”
But don’t worry Annie fans, because season 2 won’t lose sight of Shrill’s messy heroine. As West promised for the comedy’s prospective round two, “Of course we’ll also spend more time with Annie and see her continue to stumble forward on this journey and sometimes stumble backward.”