Disclaimer: this article includes many spoilers for the show. Read at your own risk!
We rarely ever see plus size women in starring roles and when we do, their weight is usually the butt of all of the jokes. This is not the case with Shrill. Annie is a normal woman in her twenties trying to navigate work, romance, and life in general. We watch her accomplish everyday tasks and maneuver through the world in the way that we all do because…well…plus size women are just like any women. Duh.
My favorite scene was when Annie tries on clothes in the morning and has to tuck her knees into her shirt to stretch it out. Raise your hand if you’ve done that a million times! Not only was this is scene funny, but you actually got to see Annie in her bra and underwear.
Another amazing thing about Shrill is the way it portrays the reality that most plus size people experience on a daily basis: fatphobia. Whether it be in the form of unwanted comments about their weight or encouragement from family members to try a new diet, fatphobia is real and pervasive. The show has plenty of those moments like with Tonya, a random stranger from a coffee house, and Annie’s mom.
Ryan, the asshole who Annie has casual sex with, is too embarrassed of her size to introduce her to his roommates. He also actually makes her sneak out the back entrance of his house every time she comes over. At the end of the episode, Annie comments “I shouldn’t have to trap you into treating me like a human being.” The truth is, most plus size people aren’t treated with respect or dignity. They have to be “sweet enough and nice enough and easy going enough” just to be treated well. It’s appalling.
Shrill also calls out the ridiculousness of dieting. In the show, Annie is on some sort of diet that requires her to eat basically nothing, and what she is able to eat is some disgusting, half-ass meal. “I’m definitely starving,” Annie jokes. Her mother asks if she’s eating the six almonds between meals, which is absolutely hilarious. Like six almonds could actually satisfy a person’s appetite.
Diets are a way to make bigger people believe that being big is their own fault. The theory is: if only you went on a diet and actually stuck to it, you’d be skinny. Well I call B.S. Diets often just make us feel bad about ourselves, and they don’t work most of the time. Also, your body doesn’t know the difference between your diet and famine. It will literally send messages to your brain that increase appetite and decrease your energy expenditure. It will fight against all your attempts to lose weight.
Anyway, back to the show. Annie gets pregnant in the pilot episode and considers having an abortion. At first, she thinks that it would be great to have a baby. Ryan would have to treat her like a decent person because she would be his baby mama. Ultimately, she realizes that she deserves to be treated like a decent person, not because of her condition, but because she just does. She decides she is no longer going to tolerate Ryan’s disrespect, nor her boss’s constant dismissal, nor the random girl from the coffee house’s insistence that she lose weight. Then she goes out into the world and becomes a boss bitch who doesn’t take anyone’s crap. She is powerful and unapologetic of her weight, and it is truly inspiring to watch. I will definitely be keeping up with this show!