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Is ‘Shrill’ Based on a True Story?

January 21, 2020
5 min read

There are a lot of things that happen to you when you are overweight. First, there is the constant fat shaming from all directions. Then there is the relentless bugging of your well-wishers, which includes friends and family, to get you on a diet or make you go to the gym. Then there are the Internet trolls who have to comment on your pictures and make crude remarks about you if you dare to speak on anything that they don’t agree with. In all of this, people usually forget that you are more than just a fat person. You are a person. If only people could acknowledge that.

If you have felt or faced any of these things, then you will find ‘Shrill’ delightfully relatable. It is the story of a journalist who goes through a life-altering phase and learns a lot about the world, as well as, about herself. It is a charming comedy, but it is also very close to reality, which makes you ask: Is this a real story? Here’s the answer.

What Is ‘Shrill’ About?

Annie Easton is fat. There is no denying that. There is no forgetting that either, at least, no one around her would let her forget that. She either receives flak for being overweight or the ones concerned about her, like her mother, want her to lose some because they are worried about her health. And it’s not that Annie doesn’t want to change. There are a number of things she wishes could be different in her life, but her weight is not one of them. This show follows the journey in which she becomes more accepting of herself and more rejecting of what others have to say about it.

Is ‘Shrill’ Based on A True Story?

Hulu’s comedy, ‘Shrill’, is inspired by the memoir, ‘Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman’, by Lindy West. The writer, who also serves as the executive producer for the show, is known for her unrelenting comedy which focuses on topics like feminism and fat activism. The memoir brings together different incidents from her life, including everything from her experience with Internet trolls to dealing with the death of her father.

When she first received the offer for the television adaptation of her book, she was surprised. “It seemed totally impossible that there could be a show in that book,” she said. But once the project started to take shape, she knew she not just wanted to be a part of it, but also wanted to include the stories of other women as well.

Is Annie Based on Lindy West?

The protagonist of ‘Shrill’ is a woman named Annie Easton, played by SNL-fame, Aidy Bryant. While the show draws inspiration from West’s memoir, it takes a path of its own as Annie’s story shapes up.

“There were some tentpoles from the book and from my life that I wanted to make sure were in there. All of that carried through to the show, but we built a fictional world around those things. Annie isn’t me, and she’s not Aidy. She’s a new person we made in the service of making a great show,” confirmed West. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more West wanted Annie to be different from herself. This was facilitated with bringing different women in the team who had their own experiences about fat shaming and the so-called “body positivity” movement, and other challenges that the society’s dissatisfaction with their body brought to them.

In her essence, Annie is the blend of all the women who are indulged in creating her story. “It was never going to be exactly me. It’s not a biopic. Especially when Aidy came on- once you have actors involved, it’s important that they can take these characters and make them their own a little bit. And that was a big part of it; Aidy wanted to build this character with us,” said West.

Executive producer, Elizabeth Banks said, “I’m very proud of the collaboration that they all brought to the table. Alexandra, who is very dry and very sardonic, just an incredible wit, really balances like Aidy’s optimism and her much sunnier sort of outlook on everything, and I think that’s where the character really lies. And then there’s the confidence and strident nature of Lindy, that’s sort of like sprinkled in there.”

A number of other changes have been made in the show to make it more about Annie than West. In the show, her father is sick but very much alive. The television adaption also has Annie working with a difficult boss; however, the character is not really based on West’s own experience with her boss. Another major change that’s been made in the story is how Annie handles the troll that has been hounding her. In real life, West got an interaction while on an episode of ‘This American Life’. However, when it came to depicting that on the screen, she had a change of heart.

“I’m really proud of that This American Life piece I’m in, with that particular guy. It is one of my proudest professional accomplishments, and I think it’s a beautiful piece of work. But at this point in 2019, internet trolls have sort of metastasised in a lot of scary directions. […] It’s just morphed into a different animal at some point. The idea of just doing a redemption narrative with one of these truly toxic and abusive people held no interest for me. I think it’s a different conversation now,” concluded West.

Read More: Where Was Shrill Filmed?

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