Shrill

Annie is a sweet, agreeable emerging journalist a small Portland news site, who just happens to be very overweight.

Although she is persisting with diet food a her mother’s behest and constantly subjected to fat-shaming observations around her, Annie (Aidy Bryant) manages to keep on smilin’ through her day.

“There is a small person inside you dying to get out,” says a personal trainer keen for her to sign up.

“You could be so pretty.”

“You’re funny, like Rosie O’Donnell” adds the local cafe shop assistant.

Even at work she is subjected to insults.

“You’re a vital and tiny cog,” insists demanding Weekly Thorn editor Gabe (John Cameron Mitchell), who never assigns her anything of value.

Her regular shag Ryan (Luka Jones) insists she sneak into his share house via the backdoor just so his housemates won’t know who he is “raw dogging” (I had to look it up too).

So when Annie discovers she may have failed a pregnancy test she turns to her gay roomate Fran (Lolly Adefope) for advice.

“Get an abortion before it becomes illegal,” Fran suggests.

“I keep thinking, maybe this is my chance to become a mom?” Annie admits.

It’s a tragic comedy moment that is one of the show’s strongest, when she finds the positive from such negative.

Despite her judgmental mother (Julia Sweeney) and ill father (Daniel Stern), Annie has nevertheless emerged as the smartest person in the room -save for her roommate. Yet it isn’t clear why it has taken this long for her to start pushing back against daily fat-shaming, all of which she does without ever raising her voice.

In early episodes Annie will take a stand on getting a column published, take control of her body and begin (but only begin) to demand better of her raw-dogging boyfriend. Yet it also feels like two steps forward, one step back, with her own flaws and habits proving hard to break.

This single-cam comedy written by Lindy West is low-budget, domestic and talky, but enters a crowded landscape of empowered women in Girls, Dietland, Broad City, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, GLOW, The Mindy Project, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and anything with Rebel Wilson in it.

Shrill works almost entirely thanks to its star actress, the adorkable Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live), who wins your sympathies in the opening scenes.

You will quickly end up wanting better for Annie, and she may take time to get the memo. At least her performance makes the journey worth it.

Shrill airs 9.30pm from Tuesday 3rd September at SBS VICELAND.

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