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There is a moment in the opening scene of the very first episode of the new Hulu series Shrill, when Annie (SNL's Aidy Bryant) looks at herself in the mirror while getting ready for work and decides that the shirt she's wearing is a little uncomfortable. And so she does what many of us do: She squats down and pulls the shirt over her knees to stretch it out. It's such a simple, incredibly relatable moment, and yet it's also a surprising one because we've never really seen it happen on television before. Despite the fact that TV has long been ahead of the curve in terms of diversity, it's only been in recent years that we've begun to see more representation of people in larger bodies — and not just more representation, but realistic representation. What makes Shrill so special is that Annie isn't trying to change her body; she's just an average person coping with the usual daily struggles of work, friendships, relationships, and sex. She just happens to be doing so in a body bigger than those typically depicted in film and on TV.
Shrill wouldn't exist without Girls, a fact that becomes immediately clear in the first few episodes of the series based on journalist Lindy West's memoir. Bryant, playing a fictional version of West, has several experiences similar to those faced by Hannah Horvath, the semi-autobiographical character played by Lena Dunham on the HBO series. Annie deals with an immature sex partner who doesn't respect her enough to introduce her to his roommates — let alone commit to an actual relationship, which makes it all the more painfully real when Annie has to get an abortion because the Plan B contraceptive she took didn't work. Both women are young, aspiring writers with eccentric suburban parents. Both...
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