Writing this post, I was about to start with “when you watch as much TV as I do…”, and then I realized that I definitely don’t watch as much TV anymore as I used to. Evenings where previously I might have gone home, made dinner, and then plopped down in front of the TV for three hours are gone. Most nights are one hour, maximum, either consisting of an hour-long program or 2 half hour shows. Watching a film of some kind or more than one episode of anything hour-long is super ambitious. I can think of one night recently when I watched more than 2 hours total in one evening, and that was because I had put the baby down early, didn’t have a lot of post-baby-dinner cleanup, and knew that the Boy would be home in the near future and we would be eating leftovers, so I didn’t need to start cooking/prepping food. So I sat down and watched 30 minutes of one show, and then 10 minutes of the next before he got home, and then later we watched a half hour show, and ALSO an hour long program. I watched 130 minutes of television that night, and I was ZONKED at the end.
It has gotten so bad, that when the Boy and I – ON A WEEKEND – tried to watch a 2 hour documentary (more on that in a couple weeks), I petered out with 30 minutes to go. It was pitiful. The point of all this is that I don’t have as much time to watch television as I used to, and so I have to use my precious TV-watching hours in the evening judiciously. Obviously I’m watching the Game of Thrones final season. And when we get recommendations from friends on amazing shows that need to be watched, we watch those too, especially if they are 30 minutes long, and the season is short/it’s a mini-series. And sometimes shows that are related to things that I’ve read or seen in the past come up, and if there’s also lots of good press surrounding them…I don’t have much choice.
So yeah – that link up there is to my July 2018 roundup which is when I read Lindy West’s Shrill. This show, starring Aidy Bryant, tells some of the stories from that memoir, saving some of them for later, and changing some of them around to make it more entertaining/funny. And this is where I break out that sentence starter from the top – when you watch as much TV as I do, it’s easy to adore the work of lots of different actors and not have opportunities to talk about how great you think they are. Aidy Bryant is one of those actors. Obviously she is amazingly funny and endlessly transformative on SNL, but I have a soft spot for her ridiculous character on Girls, and it not so secretly delighted me that her character and Ray got a happy ending as the couple we never knew should have been together.
But anyways – Shrill. It’s 6 episodes long on Hulu, each episode clocking in at just under 30 minutes. Which means that even I, who get tired at the drop of a hat as evidenced above, was able to finish the series in a matter of days instead of stretched out over a week or so. It helped that there were a couple evenings in there where the Boy wanted to game instead, so I got to watch my own shows, and that one night he was out for a concert, so I had a whole evening to myself. Basically, it is a sub-3 hour experience that you can have that will delight you.
Because the show is really good. It’s the kind of show that made me sad it was over as quickly as it was, and that I loved during every minute as I watched it. Some of the stories in the show are pulled directly from the book and so I generally knew where they were going (the blog post that Annie/Lindy writes about being fat that’s essentially directed at her fat-phobic boss), and some that appear in the book, but that have been changed slightly for television to be funnier (Annie/Lindy confronting her online troll). There are things that having read the book I can see in the show as planting seeds for future seasons, and luckily we are going to get that as the show has been renewed for a second slightly longer season (8 episodes – woohoo!).
There are so many things I could talk about enjoying with this show – how it broaches uncomfortable truths without flinching (did you know that the morning after pill doesn’t work as consistently for women above a certain weight?) How the relationship between Annie and her best friend/roommate Fran is delightful, but also how Fran has the perfect amount of gutsy confidence that is rarely shown in female characters. How ALL the main characters (even Annie’s shitty boyfriend) have emotional arcs and change over the course of the season, not staying the same because that’s not how people work. How that now-iconic pool party scene brings together so many ladies working it and having fun. How you find yourself rooting for Annie to succeed in the relationship she’s in, but also to keep her options open because there are so many dudes around that are into her if she would just pay attention!
I’m not sure it’s a show for everyone. If you are more conservative/old-school/straight-laced, then this depiction of a more progressive life in Portland will not sit well with you. But if you want a realistic, but still slightly idealized view of a young woman beginning to realize her own potential, then this is the kind of show worth using your precious television hours on.
Details: Shrill, streaming on Hulu.