Longtime SNL star Aidy Bryant’s comedy Shrill is a beautiful amalgamation of pride, womanhood, self-love and body positivity — not just for fat-identifying feminists.
The comedy, which just released its second season, tells the story of a fat woman learning to accept her body and her worth. Bryant’s character, Annie, discovers how her nonconfrontation with boyfriends, bosses and parents have been limiting her ability to thrive.
The message is powerful, regardless of your body type. No body is perfect; we all struggle to accept our weight, curves or our features. Though Bryant focuses heavily on fat-shaming and other issues which affect fat-identifying women, this show still enveloped me in the warm hug that is body positivity.
In addition to the show’s theme of body positivity, it also deals broadly with “feminist” issues that affect the world at large. I’ll admit that I identify as a feminist, but I don’t believe that’s why I enjoy the show.
Shrill depicts situations that can happen to any woman. It’s not a show that abjectly promotes feminism as the only solution to women’s problems, but it encourages bravery. Bryant encourages her viewers to be the best version of themselves. She shows how all women, regardless of feminist status, can achieve this.
In the first episode, Annie makes a choice about staying with a man who, while not abusive, treats her with less respect than she deserves. This idea of powerful womanhood sounds feminist, but more broadly, this is a demonstration of everyday empowerment.
Shrill shows that empowerment isn’t always loud or distinctly womanist. It is as simple as recognizing when you deserve more respect than you receive; it empowers you to think about the every day aggressions towards your womanhood and actively helps you to tell the world that this is not okay.
I also recognize that this seems as if the show only benefits women, but Annie’s empowerment stretches beyond this. As a woman, this show has helped me to understand the flaws in ways I treat other women. It can benefit anyone, because it can show you how your interactions with women can always be more positive.
The series moves quickly, with major life updates occuring essentially every episode. But the flow of the show still feels natural, as if it were mirroring the pace of your own life. Annie’s life is easy to vicariously live in.
Though hard themes in Shrill make it seem as if it would be far more dramatic, but the show achieves a perfectly balanced comedic style reminiscent of Broad City or Girls. Bryant’s performance is inextricably connected to her SNL persona. With Lorne Michaels producing, she plays a version of herself that combines all of her funniest characterizations.
Bryant’s comedic prowess doesn’t veil the show’s empowering messages. Instead, it accentuates hard-to-hear themes by helping them to become more digestible.
Shrill has run the gambit for me. It has made me laugh, cry, and feel empowered enough to change the aspects of my own life which I considered stagnant. This show, though it may just sound like another comedy, is a crucial watch for anyone who feels uninspired.