Thanks to Saturday Night Live, Aidy Bryant is now, rightfully so, a national treasure. Her commitment to playing some of the sketch comedy series’ wackiest (and therefore hilarious) characters has made her an instant favourite in a cast already overflowing with talent. Now she’s getting her chance to shine as Annie on Shrill and there are so many reasons to love the short, new streaming series. For one, it’s truly Bryant’s time to be a star in her own right, which she deserves. And it’s a radically feminist, empowering story about a young woman who changes her life for the better — and in no way does that involve changing her body. It’s hilarious, it’s heartbreaking, it’s eye-opening and so incredibly important in the fight for more body positivity in on-screen representation — and Shrill is all based on Lindy West's true story.
Shrill is adapted from author Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. The New York Times bestseller— named book of the week by NPR, ESQUIRE, The LA Times, and NEWSWEEK — is an “uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can't be funny,” according to the book’s official synopsis. West writes in her novel that she came of age and quickly learned that the world wanted women to be “small, quiet and compliant,” and she was anything but.
The realization that some people don’t value fat people the same way they value skinny people didn’t break West. Instead, she turned to comedy and thoughtful writing to illuminate the issues and unintentional microaggressions she’s faced her whole life. Through her work in Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, West hilariously chronicles her life from when she was young and “painfully shy,” trying to hide herself physically and emotionally from the world, to when she grew up and realized her body and opinions matter just as much as the next person no matter what size she wore.
West now uses her confidence and strength to publicly go to war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes, battling online trolls (and even getting the worst of all the internet trolls to apologize!), and championing feminist causes in her writing through a lens of humour and honesty that speaks to women everywhere. The book follows her life as she fights misogyny, deals with her father’s death, withstands body-shaming, among other moments. Because most stories in pop culture about fat women usually, unfortunately have some kind of a focus on their weight, it’s refreshing to hear from a fat woman who doesn’t let her weight define her.
But the TV series adaptation of Shrill doesn’t following the book religiously. For one, the main character Annie (played by Bryant) is only loosely based on West. She’s a calendar editor at a local alternative paper striving for more only to be held back by her jerk of a boss; she’s sleeping with a guy who refuses to get a second pillow for her to sleep on because he’s “her pillow” (he also makes her go out the back and hop a fence to avoid her running into his roommates); her own mother constantly nags at her “health” and tries to force her into gross, bland food programs to make sure she’s “taking care of” herself. The first episode of the series follows Annie as she wakes up and decides to stop letting people walk all over her. There is more than one moment that will make you cheer, and more than a few that will have you tearing up.
Shrill is easily going to make your list of Top 10 best shows of 2019 for so many reasons, but it’s the fact that it’s all based on a true story, and someone’s actual life and experiences, that makes it even better. And if you can’t wait until the show begins streaming, check out West’s memoir now for an empowering and potentially life-changing read.