Saturday, March 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shrill' - Annie Exerts Her Own Voice in a World Trying to Tell Her What to Do and Be in 'Annie'

Hulu's Shrill - Episode 1.01 "Annie"

When the morning after pill fails, aspiring journalist Annie winds up pregnant. With the help of her best friend Fran, Annie considers having a child with her hook-up buddy and must figure out who she is and what she wants from her life.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Hulu's Shrill.

"Annie" was written by Aidy Bryant, Alexandria Rushfield & Lindy West and directed by Jesse Peretz

This is such a promising and solid premiere for Shrill. It immediately presents as a show that isn't afraid to tackle topical and divisive issues. But it's also fundamentally a character study for Aidy Bryant's Annie and how she sees the world. Annie is a woman who has long accepted that if she is nice and pleasant enough to the people around her than they will ultimately validate her and make her feel happy. She is more than capable of putting on a smile and walking through her life. She avoids confrontations even though she is surrounded by a world that is telling her she needs to be skinnier in order to be healthy and happy. She doesn't wish to conform to that narrative but she also doesn't know how to change it either. It's a real struggle for her. She doesn't exactly value herself even though she does have a nice life. She has a solid roommate and friend. She loves her parents and sees them regularly. She has a job that will hopefully create more opportunities for her in the future. And she has a healthy sex life. And yet, it's not until she accidentally gets pregnant that she realizes that she is living her life for other people. She is doing what society is telling her to do even though it is so crippling and depressing for the voice in her head. She feels ashamed and less than. She is constantly surrounded by images and people who feel the freedom to touch her and comment on her body. It's disgusting. But she is also willing to put on a smile and just put up with it. It's one thing in the coffee shop when a trainer says there is a little person inside of her that wants to claw its way out. It's another thing entirely when her fuck buddy repeatedly has her leave out the back door and climb over a fence because he doesn't want his roommates to see her. That's not a healthy relationship that can lead to a happy and stable family. She doesn't know Ryan and he doesn't know her. She makes the decision to have an abortion completely independent of him. His immediate reaction though is relief that she has done it. He doesn't want another kid. That too is a sinking moment for Annie because she didn't even know that he had a kid. He is too much of a man-baby to seem all that responsible. As such, it's telling that his son and his ex-girlfriend live far away. He doesn't have the maturity level to care for them. He isn't even responsible enough to know the importance of condoms despite already having one child by accident. He simply thinks it feels better without it. Annie is more than willing to conform to his thinking as well because she believes she'll be covered by the morning after pill. That's what makes it so shocking when she only learns that the pill isn't effective for her because she weighs more than 175 pounds after the fact. That's information she should have had beforehand so that she could be well-informed about it all. That was the responsibility of the pharmacist. She was saddled with a guy who simply didn't care about her at all. As such, she has that ambiguity of thinking about raising a child as well as sitting on that table having an abortion. She has a strong support system to care for her. Fran is a very good friend. But this is such an eye-opening experience as well because it proves that Annie can't loss her own voice when interacting with other people. She wants to push back against the narrative that she has to feel and look a certain way. She has those confrontations with Ryan and her boss, Gabe. But it remains a work in progress for her to feel that confidence as well. She instead quietly curses the trainer off instead of telling it straight to her face. That doesn't take away from the empowering final moment of her walking away with a smile on her face though. She is finally getting a chance to tell her own story and make her own search for happiness.