TV: Shrill (Seasons 1–3)

It’s a crime the Hulu Original Shrill (2019–2021) didn’t get more traction, because it’s a spirited,  entertaining gem. Aidy Bryant stars as Annie Easton, an aspiring journalist for a Portland alternative newspaper called The Thorn. Annie is self-absorbed, but also bright, ambitious, and cheerful, and anxious to make a name for herself. She also happens to be fat, a characteristic that frequently drives society’s expectations for her, much to her consternation. Both despite this struggle and because of it, Annie makes a solid career for herself as an outspoken journalist, working—with the help of her bestie and roommate Fran (Lolly Adefope), among others—to find happiness and success.

Based on the non-fiction book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, Shrill serves up a delightful mix of quirky, edgy comedy and biting social commentary, with a prime focus on fat acceptance, feminism, and gender issues. The vibe of Portland, which it captures reasonably well, is the perfect backdrop for this kind of subject matter, a place where the show can convincingly advocate for the marginalized groups at its center, while also cheekily poking fun at the city’s crunchy left-wing excesses. Bryant is absolutely first-rate, bringing a mix of sunny optimism and subdued fire to her character. She has irresistable chemistry with the hilarious Adefope, and the rest of the pitch-perfect ensemble (which includes Luka Jones, John Cameron Mitchell, Ian Owens, Patti Harrison, E.R. Fightmaster, Jo Firestone, Julia Sweeney, and Daniel Stern) provides stellar support. Blazing past in twenty-two fast-paced episodes, it’s an entertaining, breezy series that doesn’t shy away from serious topics, and tackles them from a fierce, intelligent point of view.

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