I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to Shrill from Hulu based on Lindy West‘s memoir, I was a huge fan of the book (and author) and I love Aidy Bryant too. Another season has just dropped, so let’s go back to the beginning and start at Shrill S1:E01 after the break!
Quick caveat: I have very strong opinions about everything presented in Shrill, I will be sharing every single one. I also have a close personal connection to a lot of what happens, you’re going to hear about that too. That’s fair warning!
We open with Annie Easton (Aidy Bryant who also has writing and developing credits, woooo!!) walking her dog and undressing in front of us, the latter of which is still sort of a subversive act. Do you remember the first time you saw a fat person in various stages of undress that wasn’t an object of ridicule? I sure as hell do, and I love seeing it each and every time I do.
*I’m not a fetishist or creeper or a fat activist, even, but it’s fantastic to see all different types of bodies represented on TV, not just the one type typically presented.
Her sweater is more clingy than she would like, time to stretch it out over her knees (If you haven’t done this, you’re probably not regularly wearing women’s clothing) and have a diet lunchable. It’s hella gross, but she continues to fork in that tasteless and blameless protein even under the withering gaze of her roomie Fran (Lolly Adefope).
So she’s in diet culture with her lunch but enough out of it to mock an advertisement for exercise, unaware that personal trainer Tanya (Katie Wee) is watching her take a picture. Tanya just wants to help, in an extremely presumptive, overbearing and intrusive way.
Annie backs up and backs up, being loudly and personally advised every step of the way by Tanya, who is sure she can help Annie take off all those extra pounds. Tanya ends by telling Annie she could be so pretty, which is the exact same thing all of us ladies of size hear most days. “You have such a pretty face” for 2019. For the record, Annie is goddamned adorable.
A couple of people are watching, the barista (Obediah Freeman) just looks sorry for her but another coffee shop customer feels the need to console Annie by telling her Tanya is crazy and Annie is funny like Rosie O’Donnell. The barista thinks that every time he sees her!
*That’s another thing fat people get to hear: only being compared to other people who are considered to also be fat. I imagine there are a few other groups that are familiar with this practice.
Off to work, where Annie works with and has a crush (?) on Gabe Parrish (John Cameron Mitchell from Girls!! And Vinyl, but GIRLS!!) who has zero time for her Cool Shirt Alert. She excavates some courage and approaches him to pitch an article as he’s also her boss.
Gabe is not receptive, or listening or a mentor. He thinks she needs to pay her dues. By her age, he was out “f**king things up!”
*Annie is absolutely too nice, what I used to cal Fat Girl Nice, wherein women of size (maybe men too, I dunno) are unfailingly polite and courteous, just to exist in the same space with normal-sized people who do not have that same urge to always be nice to apologize for their oversize existence. FGN happens after Fat Girl Neutral results in people calling you a big fat b**ch. Or maybe that’s an erroneous perception that I held. Maybe it didn’t matter who called you what and why. People will always find a reason to be arseholes if they look hard enough.
**It’s not that fat people actually ARE nicer, they just sometimes ACT nicer, which is an incongruity and hard on the psyche, which can lead to sometimes substance and/or food abuse to deal with unexpressed rage. I hear.
***Actual show note: Lindy West, author of Shrill and co-writer/co-developer of the series worked for Dan Savage when she was in journalism. We can probably assume that Gabe is him in sitcom form.
Annie has unsafe sex with Ryan (Luka Jones) with.her.bra.on, actually stopping him from removing it during, but allowing him to slide his hand up. They’ve been having sex for six months, happy anniversary! One day she’ll meet his friends or roommates, but not today!
She hops a fence. She has to hop a FENCE.
Off to the pharmacy to grab a Morning After/Plan B pill before returning to work, because yeah: hookup sex is way better with no condom! $50 bucks a pop. For her.
At home, Fran is cutting hair and hitting on her patron, but she’s got two other ladies lined up for the night, what to do?? Their dog Bonkers wanders out with a tampon, yikes, but that’s so we know that Annie hasn’t had her period for awhile.
Hm. PCOS or pregnancy? I’m good either way, but I will be ECSTATIC if they’ve found a new way to introduce pregnancy into a narrative without vomiting!
Annie’s breasts are bothering her too, we’re back to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test which we actually watch her take. In a public restroom. She stalks back to the counter, she’d like to exchange the pee-covered plastic for a test that doesn’t give a false positive, thanks!
*There’s no such thing as a false positive on a pregnancy test, it only picks up a hormone that doesn’t exist outside of pregnancy. You can get a boatload of false negatives, though!
Ahhhhh see, the Morning After pill isn’t effective for women over 175 pounds, the lazy pharmacist (Tom Walton) should have mentioned that because that means the last 8 times Annie’s taken Plan B: it’s done nothing for her. I’m worried now about that poor baby-to-be being fed a bunch of weird hormones.
She tries to talk to Ryan, who’s basically a giant manbaby, so she turns to Fran, who doesn’t understand why Annie would have unprotected sex with Ryan, even if his favourite thing is “raw-dogging.”
Annie tries to explain, but it sounds even worse out loud. Ryan liked her and she didn’t want him to stop liking her, so she went along with the no-condom thing and thought she was protecting herself but turns out not.
Ah it’s impossible listening to Annie verbalise how she moves through life; she cries because she’s worried that this might be her one chance to be a mom. She doesn’t look the way everyone is supposed to so she just thought if she was kind enough, nice enough and easygoing enough, SHE might be enough.
Fran and I are so sad about how Annie talks about herself, she needs to stop being so mean. First step: break things off with Ryan. Second step: probably get an abortion.
Annie heads to talk to her mom first, Vera Easton (Julia Sweeney – I love her!!!! Where has she been?) is also on the Thin Menu lunchable we saw Annie eating, she’s loving it! She’s concerned when Annie says she’s starving all day.
Annie isn’t laughing when her mom whips out the passive aggressive chequebook; this “food” isn’t free, ya know! SORRY FOR TRYING TO HELP.
Annie’s dad Bill Easton (Daniel Stern!! from City Slickers!) is resting up after chemo, they have a closer relationship but she doesn’t tell him about her pregnancy either.
Fran comes into the abortion clinic with Annie, rubbing her shoulder as the doctor performs the procedure.
A couple of quiet days of rest later, Annie’s feeling a little different. Good enough to try on a super cute new dress dropped off by Fran’s shoplifting hairdressing client, even. Part of it was looking at pictures of herself as a child while at her parents’ house, she was so fucking cute! All happy and chubby and just aware of the whole world ahead of her.
I mean: adorable.
Annie goes to Ryan’s house swinging, coming in the front door and introducing herself to his roommates and everything! Pete (Michael Liu) and Mike (Tommy Snider) don’t care but hey! Now they know! Annie tells Ryan about the abortion, he literally sighs out loud with relief. He doesn’t think he can handle another kid right now! Annie and I: whut??
He has a 14 year old boy that he has never mentioned ever. That’s dunzo!
Annie musters up the courage to pitch an article to her boss, who is such a complete farking arsehole that he can only be realistically portraying He Who Must Not Be Named. She stands up for herself when he says no, yay! So she’s writing about the Morning After Pill not working for plus size ladies, woooo!
She even runs into Tanya on the street and tries to politely deflect but slips a “f**k you” at the end, and gets a “I was just trying to help you, you fat b*tch” which is what happens, y’all. The easiest insult that’s riiiiight there underneath all the surface concern about other people’s “health.”
Shaken, Annie walks away with a smile struggling to come on to her face, but it does! She’s going to be alright and we’re done the first episode of Shrill from Hulu. Until the next one, which won’t be long, I’m going to binge-recap these one right after the other. Cheers!