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Series / Shrill

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Shrill is an American comedy series that aired for three seasons (2019–21) on Hulu, adapted from Lindy West's nonfiction book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.

Annie (Aidy Bryant) is a fat young woman who wants to change her life — but not her body. Annie is trying to make it as a journalist while juggling bad boyfriends, sick parents and a perfectionist boss, while the world around her deems her not good enough because of her weight. She starts to realize that she’s as good as anyone else, and acts on it.

This show provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: Ruthie, the receptionist at the Thorn, seems to have crushes on various men and women, but her sexuality is never explicitly stated.
  • Beta Bitch: In college, before she became best friends with Fran, Annie was best friends with an Alpha Bitch named Lauren, who would passively aggressively fat shame her to make herself feel prettier. Annie eventually learned to distance herself from Lauren’s bullying and started hanging out with Fran and her crush at the time: Dea.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: While there are a variety of large women of varying levels of beauty like the very cute Annie and the sexy Fran and all the plus-sized bathing beauties at the Fat Babe Pool Party, the one that stands out the most is a big, blonde, and beautiful woman in a red dress, who by her example teaches Annie to cross the street without apology.
  • Brainy Brunette: Brown-haired Annie is a writer and Fran is a dark-haired woman with a witty tongue.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Ryan is actually rather smart, but he would prefer not to bother with things like responsibility and hard work. Case in point, his job at a hardware store.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Amadi incorrectly assumes that Ruthie had a bad childhood due to being trans, especially when he sees that she lives with Gabe and his husband. This turns out to not be the case, and she calls him out for assuming this and tells him that she just lives with them because they were rich and needed some help around the house.
  • Bumbling Dad: Deconstructed with Annie's dad, Bill. He's a goofy man who relies on his wife to run the household; but when Annie lashes out at her mother, he really tells her off about how self-centered she can be while her mother hardly puts herself first.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ruthie, Maureen, and Pete are all examples to varying degrees.
  • Collector of the Strange: Ruthie's gas mask collection disgusts Amadi.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ruthie is perpetually snide and sarcastic towards everyone.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Annie quits her job at the Thorn to get back at her Bad Boss Gabe, but she can't find work. Although she is a pretty respected writer, she can only get offers for an "internship".
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Annie's "Mind Prison" speech is full of this after she rants and cries to Fran and her partner about how hurt she is by her boss's comments about "the obesity epidemic" and how she has been reminded everyday that she would not be seen as lovable unless she was thin enough is this.
    • She does this again with Ryan in the season two finale. Annie reminds him of how hurt she was by how he used to hide her from his friends after sex. Ryan tries to brush this off by saying he's over his shame of being seen with her. Annie, on the other hand, tells him straight up that she is still deeply hurt by how disrespectful he was towards her in those moments and that she may never really get over it.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The B-plot of "Skate," the second season's third episode, has this moral when Gabe overdoses on ketamine.
  • Ethical Slut:
    • The strippers that Annie meets encourage her to go after what she wants in life and relationships because she has a "fat ass and big titties" and she should be telling men what to do.
    • Discussed, rather than played straight, in Season 2. Fran Really Gets Around and struggles to be monogamous, but she's very upset when she learns that her onetime girlfriend, Vic, also has a steady boyfriend.
  • Extreme Doormat: Annie is this in the beginning, as she lets both Ryan and Gabe take advantage of her, while passively letting people belittle her for her weight. She gradually becomes more confident and able to stand up to the people (both in and out of her immediate circle) who mistreat her.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Annie takes the morning after pill and after it is revealed to not work, she goes to have an abortion and it is treated as a non-issue (aside from Ryan's My Beloved Smother wanting to make a funeral for the fetus). The next season has Annie name her abortion as a moment of self-care. She is, however, shamed for it at one point in Season Three.
  • Jerkass: The troll, known only by his screenname "The Awesome," who mocks Annie for her weight in the comment sections of her articles. When she confronts him, he shows no remorse whatsoever for the way he treated her.
    • The obnoxious fitness trainer in the pilot, who passive aggressively criticizes Annie for her larger body type.
    • The separatists Annie meets in Season 3 are shown as being rude and obnoxious. Not to mention they're pretty open racists.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters.
    • Ryan is a deconstruction of this. He treats Annie horribly in the beginning, from making her jump over his fence after sex (out of shame over being seen with a fat woman) to blowing off dates so he can engage in frat boy activities like pencil fighting. Once they officially become a couple, however, he does make a semi-serious effort to be a good and supportive boyfriend to her, even showing occasional moments of tenderness and compassion. Unfortunately, it winds up being too little too late, as her The Reason You Suck speech (cited below) illustrates.
    • Gabe has plenty of Jerkass moments but, deep down, does have Annie's best interests in mind. In Season 2, he shows concern when Annie tells him that the corporate-minded WHAM (Women Having A Moment) event is monetizing feminism and self-care to sell more insecurity to women and is open only to privileged women (despite aiming to empower women) and takes Annie seriously when she says that her moment of self-care was having an abortion.
    • Ruthie is very self-serving, as well as being rude and snarky to everyone at the Thorn, but still has genuine moments of kindness and even becomes a part of Annie's friend group in the last two seasons.
  • Manchild: Ryan is this, up to eleven! He's a grown adult (played by the 44 year old Luca Jones!) but dresses like a child, still lives with his mother, is unable to keep a steady job, prioritizes goofy fratboy activities like pencil fighting over his relationship with Annie, etc.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Annie, the protagonist, is one, so naturally everyone she works with is one, too.
  • My Beloved Smother: Deconstructed with Annie's mom, Vera. While she does push Annie to diet to lose weight and can stand to back away, she is not painted as a one-note gorgon and instead as a complex person with feelings. She and Annie's dad, surprisingly enough, even take a liking to Ryan (despite how embarrassingly he behaves when meeting them).
    • Ryan's mother is this full stop: she does his dishes at his house and treats him like a child.
  • Nice Girl: Annie is a very polite and friendly woman. In the beginning, she's almost this to a fault, as she lets Gabe and Ryan (and to a lesser extent her mom) walk all over her. Over the course of the show, she becomes more confident and learns to stand up for herself with these people.
  • One-Word Title: Both the series and most of the episodes.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Vera and Bill are this, as they know that Fran is queer and dates (and sleeps with) lots of women. Vera openly wishes that Annie "plays the field" like Fran does.
  • The Perfectionist: Gabe and Amadi, to varying degrees.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Annie and her best friend Fran (who is a Lesbian) live together and have known each other since college.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one episode, Annie and her dad play The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down on the piano and clarinet.
    • When she meets Ryan, Ruthie refers to him as "Chewbacca on meth" based on his big, hairy appearance.
  • Strawman Political: The separatists Annie meets in Season Three are very stereotypical far right conservatives, right down to shooting at targets with the word "Lying Media" in their bullseye.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Annie delivers a blunt one to Ryan when she breaks up with him at the end of Season Two. She cites the lingering emotional damage done by his earlier treatment of her, her constant need to parent him, and the bitter fact that she was basically settling for him out of fear that she wouldn't be able to do better. She officially breaks up with him afterwards.
  • Those Two Guys: Ryan's coworkers and friends, Pete and Mike, are never seen separated.
  • Token Black Friend:
    • Fran is a well-developed aversion of this trope, as she isn't a Satellite Character and her own mind and dating life.
    • Annie's "work husband", Amadi, is a straight example (and not just because he is straight), although she and Fran are closer and they live together. Amadi, on the other hand, is mostly seen through his and Annie's work and we learn very little about his life.
  • Truth in Television: The morning after pill does in fact have a higher chance of failing for people over a certain weight, particularly if taken close to the end of its effective timeframe. However, it's not as hard-and-fast a distinction as the pharmacist makes it sound when Annie asks.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Based on writer Lindy West's memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ryan, Annie's boyfriend. He is mediocre, doesn't have a job, very lazy, has only one pillow, insists on having sex without a condom, and makes Annie sneak out the back after she spends the night so his roommates don't see her. After a short lived romantic relationship with him, Annie finally confesses that she never really liked him and was just dating him out of fear that nobody else would want to be with her.
  • You Are Fat: The show explores how hard it is for a fat woman like Annie, where it even turns out she is too overweight for the morning after pill! She lives in a society where even random strangers feel entitled to commenting on her body.