Aidy Bryant’s Annie is back, and she gets to spread her wings more in season two.
When we last left Aidy Bryant’s Annie at the end of the debut season of Shrill, she was confronting her online tormentor by hurling a brick through his car window. It’s the kind of release and satisfaction that we wouldn’t expect from an earnest comedy series, but it’s a booster for Annie’s confidence for the next chapter in her life. The second season of Hulu’s Shrill continues to gives us a character to root for, and it’s freaking hilarious. It effortlessly warms your heart and makes you laugh at the same time.
With her newfound confidence and a string of successful articles under her belt, she ventures into the terrifying world of freelance writing, and, of course, it’s much harder than she anticipated. Shrill is able to never make us feel that Annie is pathetic or cocky. Bryant gives her that easy warmth that ensures us that Annie will get up no matter how many times she may fall down.
The second season succeeds because Annie’s ambitions of becoming a more prominent writer don’t focus solely on her own self-discovery. It’s not erased from the plot, however. In the best episode of the season, Annie is assigned to attend a women’s business convention called WAHAM (which stands for Women Are Having a Moment) and, while she admires the friendships made, she is unsettled by the monetization of feminism. “It’s not taking care of yourself to agree that you’re ugly and you need to be fixed,” she tells Gabe, her boss still winningly played by John Cameron Mitchell. When she speaks with WAHAM’s keynote speaker, Justine, slickly played by Vanessa Bayer in a role already begging for a Guest Actress in a Comedy Emmy campaign, Annie casually calls herself fat, and that self-awareness blows Justine’s mind.
The warmth that usually comes from Bryant (whether it be from Shrill or Saturday Night Live) is still present, but there is a confidence coming from her this season as well. Annie’s troubles aren’t entirely about her weight, but about finding a job and gaining the respect from her boyfriend, Ryan (Luka Jones) that she yearned for so much in the freshman season. She’s in charge of her own life, and Bryant plays her with such a joyous aplomb that you can’t help but find yourself in her.
Lolly Adefope’s Fran is on her own journey of self-respect with her love life and her mother. The fifth episode–titled ‘Wedding’–focuses on Fran’s struggles to gain acceptance from her mother, and it’s directed by Shaka King (who directed season best episode ‘Pool’ from season one) who gives nimbleness to what could have been an over plotted story. Peter Smith pops up early in the season to gives us such a beautiful rendition of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ that I literally played it twenty times and I demand a single release of it.
Shrill doesn’t wallow in what Annie can’t do, but celebrates how powerful, sexy, and confident she’s becoming. It’s the perfect antidote to the dreary winter because Bryant is a shining light. I already want more.
Shrill season 2 drops on January 24th.