SXSW 2019: Shrill

Shrill -- "Annie" -- Episode 101 -- When the morning after pill fails and aspiring journalist Annie winds up pregnant, she weighs the pros and cons of having a child with her hook-up buddy. The decision-making process forces Annie, with help from her best friend Fran, to figure out who she is and what she wants from her life. Annie (Aidy Bryant) shown. (Photo by: Allyson Riggs/Hulu)

Shrill stars Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton in this six-episode comedy series streaming on Hulu this weekend following the SXSW world premiere.

We get to know Annie (Aidy Bryant) and her circle of friends, family, and co-workers over the course of six episodes.  She’s the assistant calendar editor for the The Weekly Thorn.  Annie would rather take on more duties like actually having the opportunity to write articles.  Her boss, Gabe (John Cameron Mitchell), is the first to shoot this down.

As for Annie’s home life, she rooms with Fran (Lolly Adefope) while having a pregnancy scare with hook-up friend Ryan (Luka Jones).  I’m hesitant to use the word boyfriend because they’re not quite at that level in the first episode.  In any event, Fran’s the one who comes to Annie’s aid through this ordeal.  It’s a situation that gives Annie a lot to think about.  Is her life going in the right direction?

There’s only so many situations that Annie can undergo in six half-hour episodes.  This isn’t one of those series in which it’s a joke-a-minute but this is still a solid comedy.  After quickly binge-watching this series, I’m very much interested in seeing what direction they decide to go in the future.

While there are more than a few instances of body-shaming, the series is certainly one that preaches body positivity.  Make no doubt that there are those series that would take someone like Annie and make her the butt of the joke.  Thankfully, this is not what happens in Shrill.  Annie is perfectly okay with her body even when those around her are not.  I’m not about to pretend to know what’s in Annie’s head.  But from the outside looking in, she appears to be very okay with her body.

What we learn very early on from Shrill is that the Saturday Night Live actress is perfectly capable of leading a series.  When actors are on SNL, they’re limited in what they can do during the hiatus.  The Chicago improv alumna has delivered supporting roles in films but after her performance in Shrill, it’s only a matter of time before she’s leading a film.  She doesn’t just lead the series here but she also co-wrote the first episode.  Meanwhile, the series also follows in Portlandia‘s lead by filming in Portland.

It’s also nice to see both Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern getting some work.  I haven’t seen Stern in a while but both Sweeney and Stern recur as Annie’s parents.  They do a fine job here.

Shrill is a fun little comedy that sends a message to viewers that it’s okay to be okay with your body.

SHOWRUNNER:  Alexandra Rushfield
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:  Alexandra Rushfield, Lindy West, Lorne Michaels, Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman, Andrew Singer
CAST:  Aidy Bryant, Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, Ian Owens, John Cameron Mitchell

Shrill held its world premiere during the 2019 SXSW Film Festival in the Episodic Premieres program.  All six episodes will be streaming on Hulu on Friday, March 15, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.