TV Review: "Shrill" Season One
While I found Lindy West’s compilation of essays, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” underwhelming, the show is anything but.
Aidy Bryant portrays Annie, a character based on Lindy West herself, with quiet poise, spunk, and a hidden anger-fueled courage. The supporting cast — Lolly Adefope as Fran, Daniel Stern and Julia Sweeney as Annie’s parents, Luka Jones as Ryan, John Cameron Mitchell as Gabe, and Ian Owens as Amadi — is comprised of characters that all serve to encourage, challenge, or push Annie to evolve.
The only real question I have for Hulu is: Why only six episodes?
I understand that leading lady Bryant is a SNL cast-member and logistically, it must’ve been difficult to fit “Shrill” into her already busy schedule. Six episodes are just not enough for fulfilling character arcs though, and the end of the sixth episode doesn’t exactly serve as any kind of season finale. It easily could’ve been expanded into a 10- or 12-episode season, which would have provided plenty of time for complete arcs. As is, the six-episode run doesn’t feel anything like a typical season of television.
Regardless, the six episodes we get are brilliant.
The first date disaster in episode two is hella awkward, the pool party in episode four is empowering, and the mushroom trip in episode five is downright hilarious. The writing in the pilot is simultaneously fresh and subtle. In fact, the pilot episode might actually be the best one. It succinctly introduces every main character, establishes the tone of the show, and features a small arc of growth in Annie.
“Shrill” succeeds in bringing to the screen moments and situations that would actually happen in real life — Annie awkwardly asking the pharmacist a funny question to diffuse the tension and having it backfire, Ruthie’s struggle to tell Annie that she actually loved her article, Fran being mid-argument with a soon-to-be ex-girlfriend when she pauses to celebrate with Annie.
Overall, “Shrill” highlights something I consider huge — the importance of small storytelling on television.
Annie’s story is not one of leaps and bounds, epic battles, or monumental changes. It is about the everyday, the small challenges real people face in dealing with life in the modern world. It is about the incredible noise that comes in making small ripples in your life.
Once upon a time, a story about one woman finding her voice, accepting herself, and learning to love her body may seem like small beans to the big-wigs in Hollywood. Thankfully, those days are no more.
None of the photos in this post are my own.