Created by Ali Rushfield, Lindy West and Aidy Bryant, who also stars, Hulu’s Shrill was, right out the gate, resonating with audiences. Co-executive producer and co-writer Rushfield and executive producer Elizabeth Banks said during a panel Sunday at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys that how the show is a call to action about female representation.
Shrill is based on West’s bestselling 2016 memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman and stars Bryant as Annie, a young woman who wants to change her life — but not her body. Annie is trying to make it as a journalist while juggling bad boyfriends, sick parents and a perfectionist boss, while the world around her deems her not good enough because of her weight. She starts to realize that she’s as good as anyone else, and acts on it.
Banks said they immediately fell in love with West’s memoir because it’s a “character you don’t see often.” Rushfield adds that the memoir was “the bones” of the series. When Bryant came on board and they started to fill the writers’ room, which included West, Annie started to become her own fictional character.
The series puts a spotlight on a curvy and more full-figured woman in all her glory. The show is grounded in real-life issues for women who don’t fit Hollywood’s “normal” mold. Annie’s character is shown getting an abortion and having sex in a way that’s not comedic. Banks says women want to see themselves “portrayed as the main character and not a side character.” She adds that they were careful in portraying a twentysomething and what she is doing with her life. Annie begins to take control of what’s happening to her instead of people controlling her — something that is encouraging for everyone. “That was the real calling card of the book,” Banks said.
“It’s less about finding her voice and more about using the voice she already had,” Rushfield adds.
Lolly Adefope, Luka Jones, Ian Owens and John Cameron Mitchell co-star alongside Bryant. Rushfield and West executive produce the series with Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer of Broadway Video and Banks and Handelman of Brownstone. Bryant is co-executive producer. Brownstone’s Dannah Shinder is a producer.
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