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Why ‘Shrill’ Needs To Be The Next Show You Watch

You may know Aidy Bryant as one of the main cast members of Saturday Night Live, but have you seen her criminally underrated Hulu show Shrill yet? Shrill follows Bryant’s character, Annie, as she goes through the trials and tribulations of adult life as a plus-sized woman working as a writer in the city of Portland (they never fully say that they’re in Portland but that’s where the show is filmed). The show currently has two seasons and, personally speaking, I highly recommend it. 

However, while a lot of the show’s success should be credited to Bryant herself, who also writes for it, her co-star, Lolly Adefope, is owed some dues as well. If you don’t know who Lolly is it’s likely due to the fact that her acting career just began in 2014, but her more notable projects are more recent; such as The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018). 

Adefope plays Bryant’s character’s best friend on the show named Fran. Fran is also a plus-sized woman and beyond that she also identifies as gay. Adefope has discussed her role in the past, stating that “playing an overweight and gay black woman depicted without any cliches is more than a little refreshing.”

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Lolly Adefope

If you have seen Shrill, or any other notable works with Adefope in it, you may have picked up on her British accent, which is actually real! Adefope was born in the United Kingdom, in fact, it’s where the beginning of her acting and comedy career truly began; another reason why many haven’t heard of her until recently as she’s just broken into American entertainment. 

In 2015 Adefope won the opportunity to be in the BBC Writersroom Comedy Program. After that she remained writing/acting in the U.K. until 2018 when she got the opportunity to be in The Spy Who Dumped Me, which arguably gave her the notoriety to get casted in Shrill the following year. Originally Adefope also believed she’d have to put on her best American accent for the role, but producers felt it added an extra comedic flare to her characters already outspoken personality. 

Shrill can definitely be categorized as a comedic series, however, it also discusses a wide-variety of more serious issues such as fatphobia, toxic/emotionally manipulative relationships, and LGBT+ rights. However, the writing of the show weaves in these issues through casual conversation in a way that doesn’t feel like Hollywood trying to force diversity or a conversation that doesn’t actually have anything to do with the shows plot. 

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The Cast of Shrill

In a recent interview, Adefope discusses how important it was that she and Bryant were working alongside to show the world a new look on the ways in which individuals that society deems as fat or overweight can avoid all the tropes and boxes that Hollywood tends to force them in. Playing a gay woman on top of that added even more incentive to avoid stereotypes and deliver story-lines that depicted them both as normal people who happen to be fat; and in Fran’s case also gay and black. 

“Just because somebody might hint at a stereotype doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily problematic. It’s all well and good to have a gay black character, but [not] unless you show the real-world consequences of her deciding to be unapologetic about who she is,” Adefope said in an interview with The Cut

The ability to represent gay, overweight, black women in a way that doesn’t emphasize certain tropes or play into harmful stereotypes is definitely a challenge, but Adefope does it quite effortlessly and that shouldn’t go unnoticed. In fact, fans were quite upset after watching season 1, noting that their favorite character, Fran, had barely been in it! Luckily, the writers listened and included a multitude of new and old storylines regarding Fran’s journey to self-love and discovery throughout season 2. 

Hollywood should take note as to what the writers for Shrill and Adefope were able to accomplish within this series. The ability to discuss serious topics that are relevant, represent a whole slew of individuals who live in the place where those topics are also relevant, and do it in a way that doesn’t seem forced is no easy-feat, and yet, there are two seasons of a show that did it, no problem, currently streaming on Hulu.