Shrill’s second season doubles down on the excellence of its first


In its second season, Shrill manages to avoid the sophomore slump by mining new depths and building on its bright characters and fascinating themes.

The first episode of Shrill‘s second season picks up immediately after the events of the first season finale when Annie (Aidy Bryant) has confronted her troll (Beck Bennett) face-to-face and thrown a cement planter through his car window.

It was an impactful moment and a hell of a cliffhanger. In a remarkable feat of writing, Bryant (who writes the show with co-creator Lindy West whose nonfiction book Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman inspired the series) manages to carry the adrenaline of this moment, and her newfound empowerment into the first episode, but also into the entire second season.

In the first season, Annie’s journey to empowerment was necessarily self-centered. When a person has always sublimated themselves in an effort to please other people, to never offend, there has to be an inversion of this when they finally take control of their own lives.

This feeling is furthered when you’re fat or overweight and take up physical space, especially when the world tells you that space doesn’t belong to you. Annie’s reclamation of her space had to be selfish in the first part of her journey towards self-actualization.

However, watching selfish characters can be exhausting, especially when Bryant is so darn charming and likable. While there is nothing wrong with writing unlikeable (female) characters, I have certainly had my fill.

Thankfully, the second season quickly steers away from this, giving Annie a crisis to handle in the first episode that confronts her with the selfishness of her own actions and allowing her to move onto the next phase in her path to betterment.

From here on out, things become so much fun to watch and continue to be fascinating and subtly complex. Annie’s character development, as well as the development of the characters around her, is greatly benefited by the structure of the second season, which has two more episodes than the first season’s paltry six.

Each episode of Shrill runs at a very tight 20 minutes and I always find myself shocked when the episode has ended. However, the writing is so perfect and succinct, I’m not sure it needs 12 episodes or a traditional 22 episode order.

But given a little extra room to breathe, we see characters who mostly lived on the sidelines shine this season, namely Fran (Lolly Adefope). While in season one, Fran was a clear breakout, she didn’t have much to do other than serve as a foil to Annie herself.

This season’s episode, “Wedding” gives Fran her own moment to shine in a vibrant, complex cultural setting rarely seen on television. Running at the halfway point, it serves as a brilliant springboard for the last third of the season.

“Wedding” brilliantly gives Fran and Annie both an extra impetus in their arc, reminding each of them of who they want to be, leading to the season’s fabulous FranFest finale and the resulting conflict between Annie and her highly mediocre boyfriend Ryan (Luka Jones) (the ultimate polar opposite of Fran’s brother).

With so many shows on today, it can be hard to vie for space, but Shrill reclaims its right to take up room just as Annie does, and rightfully so. A meditation on autonomy, identity, queerness, femininity, and growing up, Shrill is well worth the time.

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Both seasons of Shrill are now available to stream on Hulu.