When you are a fat person, especially a fat woman or femme you are constantly barged with fatphobia in media. There is never any stop from the onslaught, so when you find a tiny oasis retreat from fatphobia you hold on to it with all of your might because we know that we never might get it again. This is exactly how I felt about the Hulu original series, ‘Shrill’. It’s loosely based off the fantastic book by fat author Lindy West which I featured in a previous post. I actually recommended her book in my previous post here so if you want to hear more about my opinion about it.
What I Loved About It
I was actually dreading watching it, because most fat people are either made a joke of, something tragic happens to them, or they magically lose weight and everything is magically alright. Well, I’m happy to say that we got none of this in the show. At the beginning of Annie’s (Aidy Bryant) journey where she is trapped in the cycle of diet culture, and how she is just overall apologetic for own existence and just for taking up space. We have her boyfriend who we later find out is using her as a side chick, her job where her boss does not appreciate her and is low-key fatphobic to her all the time, and her mother who is constantly telling what diet she should be on.
As we go through the series, we get to watch little by little Annie break out of her shell. I think the most emotional scene for me is the pool episode 1×04, where she gets invited to this fat only pool party and at first she is so buttoned up and ashamed to even be seen by anyone. Then little by little, she sheds her clothes and is just lets loose. Then later, she goes from this very accepting environment and her boss basically tells her that she’s too lazy for her job because she doesn’t want to go on the mandatory bike ride through the park. It comes to having a breaking point of her, just letting it all out in this monologue that brought me to tears.
I’m not going to spoil this monologue because I think everyone needs to watch it. Especially, if you have fat people in your life or if you are an ally who want to tackle your own internalized fatphobia.
The other thing, I really love about it is that all of this does not come off as forced or preachy. The message of self-love is so universal that it can be applied to anyone, but this show is especially powerful for fat people like me. I have seen so many tweets about how this show made fat women and fat enbys feel seen. Everything is literally taken right out of the daily script of our lives as fat people. The most obvious one is how Annie breaks in a new sweater by bending down and pulling over her knees.
We say that representation is important, and this show is proof positive why representation can empower a marginalized minority.
Speaking of representation, can we talk about how almost all the supporting cast is people of color. I shit you not, Annie’s friends? People of Color! Her co-workers almost all people of color. The only white people are Annie’s parents, her fuckboy boyfriend, and her queer boss. And even the queer boss has an Asian husband. This is the diversity I need in my life, okay? Especially if you have a white lead.
My favorite character is, of course, Annie’s best friend and roommate Fran (Lolly Adefope). She’s black, British, and HELLA QUEER! This is like the first queer black woman I have seen on tv in a long time and she was everything. Quirky, funny as hell, opinionated, and most importantly FAT. As a fat queer black person myself, I’m over the moon for this representation.
Back to the fatness of it all, we get to see Annie have an actual sex life and she gets sex scenes. Again, this is so rare because media likes to pretend that fat person never have sex. She gets all the sex scenes and it’s not done in a fetishizing type of way. It’s just part of her story where she is a young woman on her own and in relationships and sex happens.
We need more fat representation like this, and I hope that Shrill will be the start of more fat positive shows and movies in the future.
What I Hated About The Show
Annie’s boyfriend Ryan (Luka Jones) is the worst and continues to be the worst towards the end of the season. Even, when the writers try to redeem him, it never works because at the end of the day Ryan is a fucking loser and Annie deserves so much better. Actually, Fran at one point says that “Ryans” are banned from the house and Annie brings him in to watch their sick dog. He is literally won’t go away and I don’t understand why? He’s not likable, he’s not funny, and he basically still being taken care of by his mother. He’s literally the embodiment of a fuckyboy.
I really wanted Annie to dump Ryan (which she did) and actually get a boyfriend who didn’t fucking cheat on her and basically was too ashamed to be with her. It’s even worse than that. At one point they go out on a date, and his friends crash the date and he actually lets them stay during the date. And it was really their first date, and I was shouting at the tv “DUMP HIM, GIRL!” Yet against all logic, Annie gets into a fight with Fran over this man child and the last scene of the season is her fucking this dude. I don’t if it was intentional or not, but we were all Fran at this point. We hate Ryan and if the Hulu gods shine upon us give us season 2 Ryan better not be in it.
I also didn’t like the boss. Again, he was supposed to be like a gay version of Ezra Klien or something and he was annoying as hell. I know he was purposely written as the antagonist, but just wanted to shake him or rather slap the shit out of him for all the fatphobic comments and the way he brushes off Annie. Also, as much as I squeed about the Asian husband, the husband was somehow just as annoying as he was.
Finally, I’m going to talk about Hulu. Hulu has done this show dirty from the beginning. First of all, we get all of these seasons of the Handmaiden’s Tale, but we get literally 6 episodes that are 20 minutes long. And the thing is? it’s not being advertised at all, I heard about this during the grapevine and that is fucked up. This is a wonderful show, and has the potential to be the next ‘Mindy Project’ but it’s not being taken seriously. Please, if you love this show as I do please spread the word because Hulu apparently is doing nothing to promote it.
This show right out of the gate is a gem. As I said at the beginning it’s the representation that fat people need, now more than ever. If I had a show like this twenty years ago, I would have been so much better off. This show right here is proof positive why representation for all marginalized people is so important. I recommend this show all day every day and you should do the same.