Shrill Review - A poignant take on body image issues

Shrill Review - A poignant take on body image issues

It is not easy being a plus-sized woman, and don't we know it in a world obsessed with thinness and unrealistic beauty standards. While plus-sized men too have their share of battles, Shrill throws light on the life of a plus-size woman who is navigating through life, which means she has crawled in the same room, where others can walk in with a stride.

Plot

Shrill is based on the book of the same name by Lindy West. Like Lindy, the protagonist Annie is a plus-sized journalist who to her dismay, doesn't get to write at her job in The Weekly Thorn due to her fatphobic boss, Gabriel. Annie, in her personal life, isn't doing so well, where she has a pushy mother and a father dying of cancer. To top it all, she has a friends-with-benefits situation with a guy named Luca, who thinks of her as his dirty secret. Annie, however, finds some solace and camaraderie in her roommate Fran. The first season which consists of only 6 episodes touches upon a lot of issues faced by plus-sized women in their life, be it, being fat-shamed by fitness enthusiasts, to being considered highly expendable at work, men fetishising their bodies, to their inability to find the right contraceptive. But, Annie isn't disappointed in herself. She has completely accepted the size of her body because she knows there is more to it than her clothing size. Her relationship with her parents seems strained, but she has managed to move past their approvals and validations.

Writing

If you compare Shrill to previous shows on body positivity and fat acceptance such as Dietland, Drop Dead Diva, it is relatable and palpable. Where Dietland was anarchic, Drop Dead Diva was a rom-com mainly concentrating on the lead's romantic pursuits, Shrill is about the average American plus-sized woman. The first episode itself dwells into abortion and fat-shaming. Further, perhaps one of the most powerful ever instances of acceptance can be seen in an episode where plus-sized women are seen having a pool-party and are celebrating their bodies. This can be marked as one of the most evocative moments in the show. There are times you wish, things were different for Annie, but that is the mark of powerful writing. What doesn't work is that Annie's relationships with the people in her life seem pretty underdeveloped. But that can also be because the show is on Annie and her struggles. The writing at some times doesn't seem too sharp and there are moments when you feel the plot is hanging by a loose thread.

Acting

Aidy Bryant outshines herself as Annie, who is a perfect fit in the role. She is joined by SNL alumni, Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern who play her protective parents. John Cameron Mitchell, who plays the conniving and sly, Gabe has also done a great job in the role. The rest of the characters didn't have much of screen time in the 6-one hour-long episodes, but it will be interesting to see how their characters pan out.

Takeaway

This is a light-hearted watch and can be binge-watched over the weekend. The show in its first season itself took on some socially relevant storylines, be it fat-shaming or abortion or contraception or online trolling. The season 2 will hopefully get to see more of Annie as a writer, which clearly was missing in the first season. Rating: 3.5/5


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