Shrill (Season Three) (Hulu) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 31st, 2023  

Shrill (Season Three)

Hulu, May 7, 2021

May 06, 2021 Photography by Allyson Higgs/Hulu Web Exclusive
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What happened to Shrill? The Hulu series was one I discovered during the pandemic, whose first two seasons I binged—twice. The third, and final season, however, does not live up to its predecessors.

The series is loosely based on Lindy West’s memoir collection of essays, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, which includes high-traffic articles West wrote for outlets such as Jezebel and The Stranger. A “lite” version of HBO’s Girls which takes place in Portland, Shrill’s appeal mirrored that of West’s most controversial yet relatable articles on topics such as fat shaming and dating. The first two seasons did so with a humor and vulnerability that viewers could identify with and point to similar incidents in their own lives.

What is both odd and disappointing about Season Three is that main character Annie (Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant) has apparently dealt with all of her issues. She has a positive image of her plus-size body. She is in control when it comes to the men in her life. She is smashing it at work at The Thorn, her city’s alternative publication, where she is one of the most clicked on writers. Everyone else at the magazine has their hours cuts, but not Annie. She even has a turnaround with her parents and now has a good relationship with them. What is going on?

Shrill is suffering from overconfidence and also, zero conflicts. One bad boyfriend breakup and now Annie is in control of dating. In the first episode with a cute (but mama’s boy) hook-up she’s already unclothed within five hours of meeting him. Then she screams that she doesn’t want his BBQ finger up her butthole. Who does? But it’s the assurance with which she delivers this that shows way more growth and maturity than is possible in such a short period of time after her split with the huge loser boyfriend.

She has not only identified her destructive patterns but she has broken them and now she’s a fully realized person. In another instance, when her number one boyfriend choice—who admittedly leads her on—says he’s not interested in her that way, she annihilates him with no sign of insecurity, which is enviable as much as it is entirely unhinged.

Annie looks great in a variety of snazzy get-ups, and she knows it, which is a far cry from actual human reality. She screams at the doctor who suggests gastric bypass surgery to her in a parking lot. The doctor doesn’t hear Annie because she has her AirPods in, so Annie goes for the doctor’s career with her poison pen, which is where she wields her power unchecked. But then the doctor’s clinic changes their policies to be inclusive all body types. Another win for Annie, obviously.

Then she gets cancelled after writing an article on nationalist separatists, which she used to break out of her, “I only write about fat issues” niche, she turns into a petulant, crying overgrown child. But it’s Shrill Season Three, so that cancellation is instantly cancelled and all of a sudden, Annie is the editorial director of The Thorn.

The not-so-secret weapon of Shrill is Lolly Adefope who plays Annie’s best friend and roommate, Fran. Fran has always been brimming with confidence, which is all the more amplified because she delivers her clever lines with a fabulous English accent and a saucy smile. Fran’s confidence is so off the chain, it breaks the bell of a high striker.

Like Annie, she’s turned an entirely new leaf in her relationship choices and accepts the unconditional love of one of her best friends, Em (the supremely likable E.R. Fightmaster), switching into a healthy relationship instantly. When she decides to move her hair styling to a salon, she finds a great new friend in her sympathetic—and hilarious—boss. She also wins over the unfriendly top stylist, who doesn’t speak to anyone, also instantly. Her contentious relationship with her family, particularly her mother, is resolved in one evening when she guides Fran and Em through cooking Nigerian food.

Annie’s parent issues are also seemingly solved. Her father has beat cancer and he and her mother are off on an RV adventure. All their FaceTime conversations are animated and bubbly and not judgmental of Annie at all—a huge breakthrough considering her mother found fault with Annie her whole life.

Keeping with the theme of no conflicts, or at least quick resolutions of major issues, the lightly touched up race topics are dealt with neatly and with finality. A far removed scenario from actual Portland, one of the national hubs of racial outcry.

An entire season of no conflicts and Shrill’s series finale ends with a mess of loose ends, that makes it feel like all Annie’s and Fran’s personal accomplishments have amounted to nothing and leaves viewers with no resolution. (

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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