Coincidence is a good word to describe the dynamic between narrative and body type in Shrill‘s second season. Annie’s weight is only really alluded to twice, and both times the storylines are nuanced. In one, Annie takes her boyfriend, Ryan (Luka Jones), to meet her parents for the first time; instead of the night centering on that, though, it becomes about her mom’s obsession with food. Annie tries to steer the conversation toward other topics, but her mom keeps on—which, in turn, makes Annie second-guess all the self-confidence she’s built.
“I think that is how a lot of fat people experience the world in a lot of ways,” Bryant says. “Where someone else’s experience of food or their own body or their own clothes comes to reflect on you in some way.”
She cites a wedding toast she once heard as an example: “In the toast they were saying, ‘Oh, this night we felt so thin and that was so good!’ I remember feeling like they were saying, in their minds, the best night of their life was the night they looked nothing like me.”
Bryant’s real-life anecdote, in a nutshell, reveals the main issue in Shrill‘s next chapter: How do fat people who love their bodies go about navigating a world that constantly tells them they’re wrong? “I think that is part of what we were trying to circle around [in season two],” Bryant says. “Annie feels better about herself, but everyone around her is still stuck in that dark mentality that she was in at the beginning of season one.”
Shrill isn’t presenting an idealized world. It doesn’t gloss over the fact that living life as a fat person can be difficult, regardless of self-confidence. The season, in subtle ways, explores the push and pull of being body-positive in a culture that actively works against plus-size women (and men).