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As Shrill comes to an end with Season 3, it doesn't need closure

  • "The last season of a television series usually brings some form of closure," says Jen Chaney. "The main characters find what they’re looking for, or seem to be on the right path, or at the very least are left in a place that feels like it belongs at the very end of a book. The third and final season of Shrill doesn’t come with a sense of closure. That may be partly because, as noted in a recent Washington Post piece, co-creator and star Aidy Bryant originally had hoped Shrill would run for four seasons. But closure also isn’t really in keeping with Shrill’s sensibility." Chaney adds: "Shrill’s subtlety may have led overtaxed binge-watchers to pass it by in favor of shows about more attention-grabbing things like murder or fish-out-of-water soccer coaches or anything affiliated with Marvel or Star Wars. But it’s the sharp attention to life’s everyday calamities and how regular people learn to navigate them that has always made this series such a pleasure to watch. That’s what will be missed, especially as a lot of upcoming TV starts to lean more toward grand spectacle than small but meaningful insight."


    • Hopefully, Shrill will influence other shows to have fully realized lead characters who are fat: "Annie is not the be-all and end-all of fat women on television," says Lauren Strapagiel. "She, like so many before her, is still white, relatively well off, and straight. There’s so much more to explore, but Annie was a direly needed improvement to the half-baked characters and outright mockery we had. It’s hard to overstate how affirming it was to simply see a fat person be bright, ambitious, and occasionally fearless, but also fail in relatable ways. Future shows that involve fat characters should look to Shrill as a jumping-off point for how to create a character who is fully realized, lives a complex life, and has flaws that are tied to being a person — not a fat person. This show isn’t for everyone. But Shrill let me see a piece of myself onscreen. After years of being only a joke, that means something. Annie, I’ll miss you."
    • Shrill has been its strongest when exploring joy, but the final season forgets that: "Hulu made the call to end Shrill with season three," says Megan Kirby. "Maybe that’s why the final eight episodes seem scattered, with an ending so ambiguous that it feels like a Bat Signal for another network to scoop up the show. When we last saw Annie, fireworks blazed triumphantly as she broke up with her deadbeat boyfriend. The proclamation seemed promising—Shrill is the rare show that spotlights hot fat sex, so surely a newly single Annie could bed a few hunky prospects while reveling in her newfound desirability as a fat woman. Instead, the girl can’t catch a romantic break in the new season. From disastrous dates to humiliating rejections, the dating world does not treat her kindly."
    • At times, Season 3 stumbles in how to go beyond standard explorations of Millennial adulthood, relying on tropes rather than venturing into more innovative content: "At this point, viewers have seen a million versions of arrested adulthood plots on TV, and the show sometimes relies on old stereotypes rather than offering a more complicated portrait of young adulthood," says Arielle Bernstein. "Part of this also comes from the fact that the show sometimes seems a bit dated in how it looks at magazine culture, the experience of going viral, and the different generational tendencies between Millennials and Gen X. Though there are updated iPhones and current fashion trends, the absence of Gen Z culture, which is clearly shaping new fashion, music, and identity in the 2020s, is a strange oversight that makes the series seem older and less hip than it imagines itself to be."
    • Shrill bites off a bit more than it can chew in season three by briefly attempting to comment on white nationalist separatist groups and Black Lives Matter: "It’s a marked tonal shift for the series as a whole, which ultimately fails when the white characters who platform white supremacy are woobified by the writing," says Samantha Puc. "Black characters are given minimal space to react onscreen, and white characters’ feelings are centered throughout the storyline, which further adds to the problematic nature. After Adefope’s Fran was given so much space to grow in season two, this is a particularly jarring and frustrating slide backwards to season one, when Fran and Amadi were relegated mostly to the background while Annie cavorted around Portland making messes she couldn’t clean up."
    • Shrill offers a lesson in fat acceptance needed after quarantine -- the final season portrays internalized fatphobia as an ongoing struggle is especially resonant
    • Aidy Bryant admits she kept some of her Shrill wardrobe: "Yeah, I've got kind of a lot of stuff. I'm a collector," she says, adding: "But I love the clothes on the show. Certainly like, plus size clothing is so much better than it was, but it's still not that breadth of choice that 'normal' people get to have."
    • Bryant is glad for her Shrill experience, but is ready to move on: "I feel really proud of what we've made and I do feel like it's sort of a complete piece that feels like it belongs in a really good place," she says. "And because I've been getting SNL and Shrill at the same time for, I mean, if you count development, about four years, I am kind of excited to see what's next. And I'm writing other things that are kind of in the works since I feel really excited about... I feel like I told this story, and so now I can kind of leave it and go to new areas, if that makes sense. It's almost like I needed to do this first."

    TOPICS: Shrill, Hulu, Aidy Bryant