Shrill, Hulu’s new series starring Aidy Bryant inspired by Lindy West’s 2016 body-positivity memoir, Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, is set to start streaming on March 15, BuzzFeed News has learned exclusively.
“I read Shrill a couple summers ago and when I read it, I loved it,” Bryant told BuzzFeed News. “After that, I heard Elizabeth Banks optioned the book. I called my agents and asked what are they doing with that, and my agents were like, ‘It’s weird you just called because they just called us about you and said you were their first choice.’”
Bryant stars in the six-episode series as Annie, a young woman who’s trying to succeed in journalism and balance relationships with her difficult boss, family members, and not-so-great love interests.
While the show addresses Annie’s experiences as a fat woman in America, much like West's memoir, her character doesn’t want to change her body or lose weight in order to fit into the expectations of the world around her.
“I think a lot of times fat female characters are really cutesy and not always fully rounded sexual beings or their sexuality isn’t treated with any dignity,” Bryant said.
In contrast, Bryant said Annie is “a full character.”
“She has a family and friends and a job and love, and all these things,” Bryant said. “I don’t think that has always been the case for fat characters on TV.”
The six-episode series, which is being helmed by showrunner Ali Rushfield, took about four months to complete, starting in the writers room in June and July and then in production in August and September.
Bryant said she was happy to have a hand in the development of Shrill and to have a say in the emotional arc of her character.
“I’ve been writing at SNL for years now and at Second City [comedy club], but I’ve never really done something with such narrative weight to it,” she said.
They filmed the series in Portland, Oregon, even using the same crew that worked on Portlandia. The tight production schedule allowed Bryant to work on Shrill before returning to Saturday Night Live in September.
Hulu’s Shrill is not a direct adaptation of West’s memoir, which Bryant said allowed them to create the show “from scratch” and even draw on her own personal experiences for inspiration.
“There are things that really happened to both of us and all the people in our writers room that contributed to building the show,” Bryant said. “There’s a coffee shop scene when someone says some tough stuff to me, and a lady really said that to me in real life.”
Bryant said Shrill is an example of how the landscape of television is changing to show a range of different stories, especially for fat women.
She said she doesn’t think she would’ve even had the opportunity to create this show or act in this kind of role 5 or 10 years ago.
“I think we’re realizing the more diverse television can be the better it is to get different perspectives,” Bryant said, adding that she thinks Shrill is a show that “a lot of American women can identify with.”
The comedian said that she would’ve loved to have seen a show like Shrill when she was younger, and that it will “fill a hole for some people.”
“It’s a story that I don’t know I’ve seen told in this way. ... It’s not like a makeover show and it’s not like she takes off her slouchy cardigan and all of a sudden she’s in a fashion dress,” she said.
“This is a person who kind of goes through an internal makeover," Bryant said, "and how that drastically changes her life.”