Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pilot Review: Shrill

Shrill (Hulu)
Premiered March 15

I had no idea who Aidy Bryant was until she got nominated last year for an Emmy for her performance on “Saturday Night Live,” though it’s likely that I had seen her in sketches before when I watched other nominated players’ submitted episodes over the year. I didn’t know about this show in advance either until I was waiting in line for another SXSW screening and saw executive producer Elizabeth Banks being hurriedly ushered in to introduce the premiere of the show there. We’ve seen other programs like this before, some of which have been painfully bad (“Downward Dog” being one example), but there’s a nice freshness here thanks to Bryant’s sincerity, owning the way her life looks and finally becoming empowered to do something about it, cursing out her would-be trainer at the end of the episode and standing up to her demeaning boyfriend who refused to introduce her to his roommates. I liked seeing Luka Jones as Ryan but it was a sad reminder that “People of Earth” is no more. Lolly Adefope, who is concurrently appearing on “Miracle Workers” as Rosie, provides a good balance to Bryant’s energy. I enjoyed the way that Annie reacted to the news that her frequent morning-after pill plan hadn’t ever been a good choice, and terminating the pregnancy right away allows for more plot opportunities. I’m not sure this is a show that I need to watch, but I’m willing to give it a second chance and see if it feels vital in episode two and beyond.

How will it work as a series? There isn’t a set narrative for this show to follow, only to stick with its main character as she has a new lease on life and takes ownership over how she encounters the world. Her self-deprecating nature is going to make it so that she still gets stepped on, but there should be some affirming and energizing developments as well.
How long will it last? Reviews seem to be pretty good for this show, and it’s got good backing from the likes of Banks and Lorne Michaels. Hulu isn’t big on releasing ratings data, but I feel like this six-episode first season isn’t all that we’re going to get of it. Even if it doesn’t last forever, a renewal sometime soon seems likely.

Pilot grade: B

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