Blossom Out: Hulu's 'Shrill'

I don’t think I paid much notice to ‘Shrill’ when it first came out and only really knew it existed based on a passing Instagram Story. But when it became available to watch in Canada, I was excited to watch it right away. Although we live in a time when body positivity reigns supreme, representation of fat people is always disappointing. We live in an age when ‘Insatiable’ was made with little concern about what it was saying to fat people. Lena Dunham might have bared it all on ‘Girls’ but fat bodies in the media are often depicted as things to diminish and dismiss. Which is why ‘Shrill’ is so appealing on one level. Based on Lindy West’s book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, the show stars Aidy Bryant as Annie, a young woman who wants to write things she cares about at the publication that she works at, and is in a situationship with a guy who makes her leave through his back door. It follows Annie as she gains more confidence to ask for what she wants, both at work and in her relationship. While the show addresses being fat in the world, it is not the thing that defines Annie and she doesn’t pay much attention to it. In fact, it’s the people around her that bring constant attention to her body and associate it with negative connotations. In one scene, Annie is accosted by a fitness trainer who tells her that there’s a small person (in Annie) “screaming to get out”. Later that same fitness trainer calls Annie a “fat bitch” for refusing her services. ‘Shrill’ has its fair share of hostile moments like this (Annie deals with an Internet troll), but even so, the show is overall lighthearted and funny. In what I think is the best moment of the whole season, Annie lets herself dance goofily and freely at a pool party, and the joy that she experiences is so tangible I burst into (happy) tears. Lolly Adefope (Loaded, The Spy Who Dumped Me), who is absolutely hilarious, plays Annie’s commitment-phobe lesbian best friend and roommate, Fran, and is absolutely hilarious in the role. My biggest complaint with the show is that we don’t see enough of her. Thankfully, ‘Shrill’ has been picked up for a second season, so there are more chances for the purest moments.

Watch ‘Shrill’ on Hulu (US) or Crave (Canada) or however you want to

*gif courtesy of GIPHY



Trois Choses is a monthly series highlighting three things I consumed each month that excited me or had an impact. 

UN: Jane the Virgin

I started watching Jane the Virgin after my friend, Sara, recommended it to me because we were talking about how I felt so stuck as a writer and that I was currently looking for a mentor and felt like I had little to offer. And Jane is a writer too. I had already been recommended the show a few times but never felt inclined to actually give it a try. At that point, everything felt really dull, my senses felt non-existent and I really needed to watch something that was fun and light-hearted, especially since the last thing I watched was  the very cold, very dark Fargo. SO I started watching and I fell in love. It’s almost embarrassing to admit this but I watched all four seasons this whole entire month. I fell in love with (almost) all the characters and was so invested. And it was also encouraging to me as a writer. I wouldn’t say it inspired me but it’s depiction of the writer’s journey and the ups and downs was very comforting in that I was reminded that there is no straight or easy way to being a writer. And one reminder that Jane always got was to BE BRAVE, which has accidentally become on of my affirmations for the rest of the year. An added bonus: Tyler Posey is in the 4th season and I literally grinned through every episode.

Deux: Startup, Season 2

I’ll basically read or watch (or listen to!) anything about starting a business, but often times the material can be more discouraging than encouraging. It focuses on mostly the positives and the ways in which the people who start businesses were built for it, whether they were selling lemonade at 6 or working at Subway and knowing that wasn't their path. Even their challenges felt overly positive and I found it hard to relate to that. That’s what makes Startup so special. Their goal is to give a direct look into the creation of business, the ups and downs, as they're happening. Sometimes it's cringey and uncomfortable, but ultimately it's really encouraging to see people have worries and concerns that I get because it makes me feel less alone, less of an anomaly. Even if starting a business is the last thing on your mind, it’s still a really good listen for anyone that has to work with other people. Season 2 is especially good because compared to Season 1, the drama and the struggle that come with starting a business with other people was off the charts. Season 2 followed Dating Ring, a matchmaking/dating service founded by Lauren Kay and Emma Tessler. It follows the duo through a positive start, losing a teammate and major fights. My favourite episode was the one where they go to visit the CEO Whisperer, which was such an enlightening thing to listen to. At the time of listening I was definitely feeling conflict in my working life, and this season gave me a lot of perspective on what I was dealing with.

Trois: "Every Goodbye Ain't Gone" by James Baldwin

"You drag your past with you everywhere, or it drags you."

This is one of those essays that I ended up reading by accident, but turned out to be exactly perfect for the moment. I feel like this whole month was full of happy accidents. So far 2018 has been pretty tumultuous for me and when I thought I was getting pretty settled in April, everything went topsy-turvy again. And this essay felt like such a comfort. A good essay for me has always been about finding a connection, not feeling alone in the world. And this essay was that and also explored that feeling. That moment when you can recognize that you're not alone, that you can explore and break away from you've known and still find your way back, or find the way to where you're supposed to be. 

Feelings on 'Master of None'

In recent years we have been seeing TV shows that challenge the norm, that are concerned with presenting real life and creating a connection with viewers. From Lena Dunham’s Girls to Big Little Lies, TV is smarter, more nuanced and can stand on its own against film. Despite this, it still feels novel for a show to tackle it all and get it right. As much as I love Girls, I feel like only the bottleneck episodes are both well written and aesthetically strong--and those are few and far between. That’s why I love Master of None so much.

When I first watched Master of None, it was kind of a fluke. The show had just come out and I needed something to keep me company while I spent three hours taking out my braids (black girls know!). I sort of knew about Aziz Ansari—that Parks and Rec treat yo’self GIF is everything—but there was nothing that drew me to the show. In the time it took me to remove all my braids, I had gotten through 75% of the show and fallen in love. Master of None was smart, creative and beautifully crafted. I liked how the show took on real issues, like facing sexual harassment as a woman or getting to know your parents as people or being an actor of color in Hollywood. It was both serious and gut busting funny.

When season two was announced, I was so excited I marked the release date in my calendar. And while I expected the second season to be good, I was also worried that I’d hyped it up too much and I’d be disappointed. Yet, I needed not to have had a single worry because the second season wasn’t just great, it was PHENOMENAL.

Visually, the show took it a new level. I feel like there are so many films described as being a love letter to New York, especially for their ability to make the city look so romantic. The show did that and more. I especially enjoyed the episodes directed by Ansari because you could tell that he put a lot of thought into color and light. The best example of this was the episode “Amarsi Un Po,” which at 57 minutes is the longest episode of the series, and is like a mini movie that made me want to go to New York and fall in love, whether it was with Duane Reade or a modern art museum.  

The second season continued to take on serious, hard hitting issues that are relevant in our turbulent times. An episode titled “Thanksgiving” (written by Ansari and Lena Waithe) followed Denise (played by Waithe) and Dev through many Thanksgivings and Denise’s coming out, perfectly documenting the difficult and sometimes awkward conversation, especially when you’re a black woman. It approached the topic with seriousness and humor. In another episode, Dev’s love interest jokingly calls him a curry person but he’s quick to shut it down, not interested in entertaining casual racism. Despite these (kind of) heavy topics, Master of None never feels preachy or pushy. It’s clear that Ansari and Yang are concerned with taking on important issues and approaching them in an honest, creative way.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited and inspired and affected by a show. Watching Master of None this past weekend was the perfect reminder of the power of television. 

Written in May 2017