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'SNL' star Aidy Bryant finds strength in 'Shrill' experience

'SNL' star Aidy Bryant finds strength in 'Shrill' experience

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Even though “Shrill” is entering its last season, star Aidy Bryant and author Lindy West say they’ve learned so much they’re certain it will affect what they do in the future.

“This is a whole new ballgame as far as the scale and the responsibility and pressure,” Bryant says. “The thing I learned it, ‘I can do it.’ I did it and I’m so proud of what I did what we did.”

Adds West: “I had this kind of solitary career until now, writing in my house on my couch, and this has opened up possibilities to me about what else I could do.”

When “Shrill” started, both executive producers wanted it to be more than just “the fat show for the fat kids,” West says. “I feel like we did and did it in a way that was really profound and healing for me.”

In the third season, Bryant’s Annie has more than a little notoriety as a writer at an alternative publication. She’s also more confident in her personal relationships and appears ready to call out those who belittled her.

A scene from one of the third season episodes shows Annie at the doctor’s office where she’s given information about gastric bypass. Bryant was at a doctor’s office for a movie physical and the doctor – who had never seen her before – “told me immediately that I should do gastric bypass. For a lot of fat people, that’s a huge experience. This kind of massive advice that is life-changing doesn’t always feel like the right fit for you.”

Bryant and West thought it was important to include the scene, particularly since they had moved beyond writing and processing stories about weight.

Although neither were expecting the third season to be "Shrill's" last, they have seen real growth in the show and the character.

“The first season, Annie is a person who I was more like in my teens and early 20s,” Bryant says. “I feel so far from that now. To go back and sort of revisit the pain and the self-hatred and misery was a really wonderful experience because I was able to kind of look at where I am now.”

In the third season, “the idea that you come away with is that the battle against self-hatred is never over, but you can deal with it in different ways. In that way, I think Annie’s journey really comes to a beautiful end.”

Because Bryant was also juggling work on “Saturday Night Live,” she learned she could conquer this “whole new ballgame” and succeed in a much different format.

“I’ve been at ‘SNL’ for a very long time and it’s given me this incredible foundation for how to make television in extreme circumstances where the timeline is short and the decisions have to be made.

“I think that really helped me in working on ‘Shrill’ because I know how to work with an ensemble and communicate my ideas quickly and clearly.”

While “SNL” frequently casts her in older roles, “Shrill” has her playing closer to her own age. “I’m happy to (do that) because that’s who I know how to be,” she says. “I’m never sad to be cast as a mom because I feel sort of like an older mom at heart. I think a lot of it is about energy. Part of us making this show (was) we wanted to make a fat character who was young and vibrant and had a sexual life.”

The third season of “Shrill” also shows situations where Annie treats people the way she was once treated.

“I think Annie’s journey comes to a beautiful end,” Bryant says.

"Shrill" airs on Hulu.


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