6:15am PT by Jean Bentley
What Would 'Shrill' Season 2 Look Like?
[This story contains spoilers from season one of Hulu's Shrill.]
Everyone on the creative team of Hulu's Shrill knows the season — which consists of six half-hour episodes — is frustratingly short. Which is why, should the series get a second season, they have grand plans to expand the world of Portland writer Annie (Aidy Bryant).
Season one follows Annie as she begins to become more comfortable with herself and her body while navigating her personal and professional life. It focuses almost solely on Bryant's character. Lindy West, on whose bestselling memoir Shrill is based, hopes a second season (with an expanded episode order) would focus on the people around Annie — her best friend and roommate, Fran (Lolly Adefope); her boss, Gabe (John Cameron Mitchell); her boyfriend, Ryan (Luka Jones).
"We thought of [season 1's focus on Annie] as basically a character study, but it's pretty narcissistic in a way. Annie's the one with the problems that need to be solved; Annie's the one with the complicated life; all these other people are there to support her. And that's not how real life is, and it's not respectful to those people," West told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was deliberate to put that into the story where, by the end of the season, people are fed up with Annie being obsessed with herself and her own problems because that's not being a good friend. What I would be really, really excited to do in season 2 is let those other characters breathe and have their own fully realized lives."
Of course, the ability to do more episodes depends entirely on the ability of Saturday Night Live star Bryant, who is a co-executive producer and co-writer on the project, to carve out more time in her already busy schedule.
"I think there is a world where we can squeeze a couple more in. I'm not going to stay at SNL forever, even though I love it — it's just really grueling to do both," Bryant said. "Particularly this fall, we were editing and doing all the music supervision and all that stuff while I was at SNL. So I would do that in the morning, then go to SNL and work all night. And I can't sustain that forever. I can't do it."
Having SNL boss Lorne Michaels on board as a producer on Shrill certainly helps. He was "super generous" in working with Bryant's schedule, allowing her to miss several days of rehearsals for the Feb. 16 Don Cheadle-hosted episode so she could fly to Los Angeles for Shrill interviews. But it's not a pace any human can handle for too long, although Bryant has already said she plans to stay at SNL for an eighth season.
"We have to just figure it out," she said. "I think at some point it'll shake itself out."
Plus, there's more to learn about Annie — about what happens now that she's had this awakening in her life where she's finally finding her voice.
"We started this season in a place where she hates herself," Bryant said. "She doesn't think she is worthy of getting to do a lot of different things, and by the end of this season, you're seeing a much bolder person who's been a certain way for a long time, and I'm so excited at the prospect of getting into how does her world, her friends, her relationships, her parents, all of this change as she's becoming a completely different person. That's a lot for them to take. And how does she navigate that? Finding your voice doesn't mean that people have to like it."
Showrunner Ali Rushfield said that after Annie's abortion in the first episode, she began doing more things for herself, like writing, and getting more positive attention than she was used to as a generally polite and nice — but quiet — woman.
"I feel like at certain times [I was] watching her say things in a really confident way, and I'm thinking, like, 'She's actually wrong.' Like with her boyfriend, there's one part where he's like, 'I didn't know we were exclusive.' And she's like 'How could you not know that?'"
But the pair never had a discussion to define their relationship. She finally feels more confident, but she doesn't know how to manage that confidence.
"I like that she's sort of going too far with the power she gets," Rushfield said, "and having to be reined back with the boss watching her, like, 'What are you doing? You're a little bit, like, high on your own supply.'"
In addition to expanding Annie's world and exploring the consequences of her actions, there are a few more topics Rushfield would love to address in a second season.
"The thing we had to cut from the pool party because we ran out of time was these women talking about, 'Is Miss Piggy a good or bad role model for fat women?' I always wanted to get that back. We didn't do this but we wanted to — and if there had been more episodes maybe it would have fit — but the whole issue of fat women and going to the doctor, which I think is in the book. It's so fascinating how fucked up it is."
Shrill is available to stream on Hulu.