photo c/o Allyson Riggs/Hulu
Ever since its first season launch on March 15, 2019, we've been anxiously awaiting Season 2 of the Hulu Original Shrill, starring SNL's Aidy Bryant, based on the book of the same name by Lindy West. While the book was autobiographical in nature and some elements of the story have been subtly changed, in season 2 of Shrill we see the show blossom into its own story and watch as the characters develop into three dimensional, complex individuals. But the very best thing about watching Shrill? The amount of on-screen representation of plus-size women, void of a weight loss narrative, and extremely relatable scenarios that makes anyone who has existed in a plus body feel seen.
Here are our very favorite moments from Shrill Season 2, the moments we felt seen, and the moments that made our hearts sing. Warning: there will be spoilers.
#1 - When Annie wears a sheer bra with hearts over the nipples to her friend's performance at a gay bar.
My personal pet peeve with Shrill is how Annie is always wearing the same dress, with very slight differences. We learned after season 1 that Aidy Bryant is dressed in almost all custom-made clothing, and while I like that the character has a signature silhouette––A-line mini dress, three-quarter length sleeves, high neck, often with a collar––I am a bit tired of it because it's a completely unadventurous, acceptable outfit for a fat girl to wear. But when Annie's roommate Fran encourages her to wear the Christmas present Fran got her, I got excited knowing it would be a more daring look! Aidy Bryant looked incredibly cool, sexy, and cute, in her space buns, a sheer bra as a top, and a skater skirt. It got me in the mood to buy a ridiculous novelty bra and rock space buns.
PS- If you are into the striped dress Annie's boyfriend Ryan jokingly describes as "a prison lady outfit," you can find it and a few other similarly silhouetted dresses that Aidy is selling as a part of her own line, Pauline.
#2 - When Annie realizes her troll is more afraid of her than she is of him.
With Annie's troll being played by Beck Bennet, Aidy Bryant's SNL co-star, it's fun to watch the two act together in a different context. Annie may have never been a bad girl before she originally confronted him, but watching her blossom into a bad girl with conviction and being so satisfied seeing him scramble in fear helps give a bit more dimension to internet trolls than we usually get to see depicted. It also gives me hope that all of the trolls out there that body shame fat women on the internet actually live a sad and lonely life in fear.
#3 - When Fran's brother tells Annie that she deserves better than the asshole she's with
The entire season, no, the entire series, it is painful to watch Annie with a boyfriend that lacks respect, personal hygiene, and ambition because Annie has countless redeeming qualities. But this storyline really hits home for me as a plus-size woman. We often believe that, because our bodies are societally deemed unacceptable, we aren't worthy of love and when someone comes around and is willing to love us, we are so grateful to have the attention that we blindly accept whatever form of love we receive. But we deserve more. Annie certainly deserves more. And when a sexy, respectable, kind, and interesting man––who hooked up with her last season––lays it all out for her during an intimate moment sharing a joint poolside, it really got her attention. And mine! Hello, handsome! Showing conventionally attractive men being unironically attracted to a fat woman on TV, not on a gross reality show, is refreshing.
#4 - When Fran confronts her mother about accepting her as gay during a Nigerian American wedding
Seeing Fran, a British plus-size black lesbian, speak so openly with her mother about her sexuality, the tension created by comparison in the family, and living on a different continent than her parents, all while at a traditional Nigerian wedding in Oregon? To me, that felt pretty monumental. She and her mother addressed their fight head on, got on good terms, and ended up dancing the night away together (with Fran in a super chic printed suit, might I add). On top of this meaty conversation, just seeing Fran's super curvy body wearing a not-so-feminine suit, dancing and celebrating feels important. Her body size never comes up, she simply is, and that isn't something that usually happens in television when a character isn't thin.
#5 - When Annie describes herself as fat to a powerful celebrity CEO
When Annie gets the chance to interview a powerful female CEO and leader of a women's empowerment conference, she accepts a compliment about her blouse and notes that it's hard for fat women to find fashionable clothing. When the CEO, played by SNL alum Vanessa Bayer, hears the word fat, she is pretty stunned. Annie assures her this is an accurate descriptor of her body, not that she's hating on herself, and it blows away the Gwenyth Paltrow type CEO. Hearing someone call themselves fat in a non-loaded way in a television show, then explain to a thin person that the term can be neutral, felt groundbreaking to me. While fat activists and members of the plus fashion community have been making these claims online for years, seeing it in this mainstream of a platform, on a network like Hulu with a massive audience, is powerful.
#6 - When Annie gets chub rub
Every single plus-size woman has suffered from chub rub, that painful rash that forms when your inner thighs rub together. Heck, most straight size women have too. Not to mention there are countless men who deal with it! But how many times have you seen this issue arise for a character in a TV show? I can definitively say that I have seen it 0 times, that is until the 6th episode of Season 2 of Shrill when Annie looks at her inner thigh and sees a red rash forming then waddles to the bathroom where she moans in pain. A thin woman tries to help by offering her bandaids, which made me laugh because bandaids are a pretty sorry solution for chub rub. But I suppose if you have always had a thigh gap, you wouldn't know.
#7 - When Annie can't wear the size Medium free t-shirt
When Annie attends the keynote presentation at the women's empowerment conference, she is given a t-shirt and told she must wear it before the keynote begins. Hilariously, the staff member demands Annie wear the shirt even after Annie explains the size small will not fit. When Annie asks for a size XXL, she is told that she can have a size medium which the staff member claims fits like a dress on her. Awkwardly, Annie lays the shirt against her chest, over her clothes to try to fit in. Plus-size women are never considered when the order for the even t-shirt gets placed, and rarely get to go home with a tee that fits, leaving us feeling totally left out. This was so relatable that it almost hurt.
#8 - When Annie figures out that even the thin women at the conference are made to feel insecure
Writing about the women's empowerment conference helped Annie realize that she wasn't the only outsider, but that even the most loyal women to the movement were made to feel bad about themselves. Here's the quote that really got me:
"They always preach self-care. It's not 'taking care of yourself' to agree that you're ugly and need to be fixed."
#9 - When Annie realizes she's only stayed in this relationship out of fear of dating as a fat woman
After two seasons of watching Annie with her a lover/boyfriend, Ryan, who doesn't respect her, doesn't take care of himself, and who makes profoundly bad life choices, we were all hoping and praying that she would finally break up with him. And she did so in a way that really hit home with me, as a fat woman myself.
Annie: "I think I stayed with you because it's easier than putting myself out there and have them not even consider dating me because I'm fat."
Then she officially cuts it off, leaving Ryan to ask, "What are you gonna do now? Start dating other guys?" as if it's preposterous that she would do such a thing. And she says, "Yeah. That's exactly what I'm going to do." Suddenly, Annie respects herself the way she has always deserved to.
Which parts in the latest season of Shrill resonated most with you? Comment below to let us know!