Aidy Bryant, who co-created and stars in the Hulu original series Shrill, stated that her character’s path has no limit. Despite the fact that the show’s third season, which premieres Friday, will be its last, Annie (Bryant) will still struggle with self-esteem issues.
“The battle against self-hatred is never over,” Bryant said in a recent Television Critics Association Zoom panel. “There is no finish line. It’s forever a marathon, and you can only deal with it.”
Annie was a forum writer who failed to date and struggled with her self-image due to her weight before Shrill launched in 2019. Annie left her fiance, Ryan (Luka Jones), at the end of Season 2 after discovering he was not dating her exclusively.
Bryant said she revisited her own growth in confidence throughout the series.
“To go back and sort of revisit the pain, the self-hatred and pure misery was a really wonderful experience,” the 33-year-old said. “I was able to kind of look at where I am now, and I think that’s part of where we get to in this season.”
Bryant has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live since 2012. She said she also had to cope with her weight throughout her career.
“I felt this at SNL,” Bryant said. “Suddenly people are putting more onto it because you are a fat person. Or, suddenly it is an act of defiance, that you exist on television because you’re fat. That’s an insane way that we’ve had to operate.”
Season 3 of Shrill continues to introduce new societal judgments to Annie. She sees a new doctor, who suggests she consider gastric bypass surgery. Bryant said she and Shrill co-creator Lindy West experienced that separately.
“We both have had the feeling of going to a doctor for help and then having them say something that wasn’t necessarily something that we were ready to do,” Bryant said.
Bryant shared that her experience occurred when she had a routine physical simply to begin production on a movie.
“He had never seen me before, had never done any blood work and told me immediately that I should do gastric bypass,” Bryant said. “I think, for a lot of fat people, a huge experience going to the doctor is this kind of massive, life-changing advice that doesn’t always feel like the right fit.”
Bryant said the end of the series brings Annie to a place in which she’s better able to cope with experiences like the doctor visit. She said that humor often has been one of her coping mechanisms.
“I don’t think I was very funny as a little girl,” Bryant said. “But, I think I realized very quickly I could use humor to get out of situations that I didn’t like or felt bad about.”
However, Bryant said the goal of Shrill was to find more than humor in Annie’s troubles. She said it was important to her and her co-creators, West and Ali Rushfield, that Annie enjoyed the scope of traits afforded Hollywood’s thin protagonists.
“We wanted to make a fat character that was young and vibrant, had a sexual life and a really full life,” Bryant said.