Hulu series Shrill serves some positive message about body-image but fails to light up the story where we care for the characters.
Hulu series Shrill will be received in either two ways; accused of fat-shaming, like Netflix’s infamous/famous Insatiable, or be praised for tackling body-positive themes. I believe it will be the latter. Shrill Season 1 is a strategic move for Hulu to counter and take advantage of the generally accepted response that Netflix crossed the line. I’m not sure we are there yet where streaming platforms can throw a ball to compete against the largest streaming platform, but the day will come when the market share becomes tighter.
In terms of a review, Shrill is an average story about a once socially anxious young woman named Annie (Aidy Bryant) who accepts her body, and after a few life-changing events decides to be a go-getter and seeks ways in changing her life without changing her body. That life-changing event occurs in episode one, and following on from that, Annie becomes much more demanding to what she wants. The entire premise is a torch to the social media campaigners that are pressuring the industry to write stories that do not shame a “bigger” person, but rather celebrate it.
As a character, Annie is blase with how she instills her attitude onto people. She allows scenarios to play out rather than being the sole person to progress a situation. There’s a scene in particular where she goes out on a date, which ends in embarrassing circumstances when her potential partner invites his friends to the table; you can tell she is not impressed but allows the situation to ride its course. Annie will most likely resonate with many with her care-free approach to life, and the “**** it” approach when it comes to eating leftover food in the fridge, despite her friend’s disgust. Shrill is purposefully laidback, and that’s okay.
And I’m not saying that Shrill is throwaway TV. It gave me the same vibe as Sisters, a series that honed in on female issues and empowered the characters. The problem is that Shrill fails to process a moment that lights up your excitement and provides a game changer for a second season. The story is really about putting yourself out there, and confidently, without letting the judgment of others putting you down.
My only one glaring issue regarding Shrill is that I’m all for pro-body-positivity, but stories that enforce the idea not to be healthy-orientated kind of defeats the point in improving the world for our next generation, and creating role models in Film and TV. There needs to be a delicate balance of not purposefully fat shaming, but at the same time, not delving into a “**** it, eat what you want” attitude, because that’s not good for our children either. There’s a scene in particular where Annie gets into an argument with a fitness instructor that results in her getting called a “fat *****”. This scene represented a fat-shaming character and Annie resisting the idea of getting fit. In another scene, her mother is insistent that they embrace a healthier lifestyle but Annie once again resists. We are still getting the message wrong.
Anyway, regardless, if you are a Hulu subscriber, Shrill will undoubtedly make you laugh, in an easy to watch series.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.