Aidy Bryant did not plan on becoming a body positivity role model. When she landed on Saturday Night Live seven years ago, she was more interested in creating absurdist comedy and a girl group that felt more like the female version of the Lonely Island crew. She’s comfortable playing a young woman lusting uncomfortably after father figures, or a talking chicken in a star-crossed romance with Ryan Gosling.
But leading her own show, a Hulu series called Shrill, Bryant tackles everything from harmful stereotypes about weight, self-love, online harassment, toxic relationships, and confronting our trolls. Which is why her new show, set to premiere March 15th, is so watchable. Bryant plays a young woman in the midst of finding herself, trying to assert her independence despite abusive megalomaniacs in her workplace, controlling parents at home, and f*ckboys that make her slip out the back door whenever their roommates return home. The show pushes Bryant out of her comfort zone and the comedian proves she’s more than capable of handling the challenge.
Uproxx chatted with Bryant about headlining her own series, why Sarah Huckabee Sanders made her delete Twitter, and how Kate McKinnon keeps attacking her on SNL.
We’ll get this out of the way first because I’m sure it’s what everyone’s dying to know: where did you get that rainbow sequined dress in the trailer?
Oh man, okay I’ve got some bad news for you.
Dammit, Aidy …
Everything that I wear on the show, they’ve made from scratch. It’s funny that you mention it because I [questioned], ‘Should we be only having her wear things that one, she could afford, and two, that like exist?’ But I think the thing I kept kind of coming back to is I’ve wanted to feel like a cool fat character that dresses cool, that has some sense of style. It wasn’t always out there on the racks and so we were like, ‘If we’re going to make this person in this world, let’s make it right.’ So, I’m sorry because I want that dress too and I’m also very sad.
I’ve heard you make a lot of your own clothes too.
Yeah, I mean I shouldn’t act like I’m sewing them. A lot of stuff I wear is just because I haven’t always found stuff that I love so I end up making my own.
Shrill is based off a book by Lindy West. It follows a character named Annie who’s trying to love herself, find confidence in her body, figure out her relationships, everyday things. How did you take the book and make it your own?
When I read the book, it was really the first time I ever consumed a piece of media and I was like, ‘There’s so much overlap for me in this story.’ I just related to feeling so tortured by my own body for so long and just feeling like ‘God, why won’t it do what I’m telling it to. Be small, you know? Then ultimately getting fed up with that and feeling like I wanted my life to start and so reading her book and seeing that in action I was like, ‘Yes!’ You know? Once I got attached to this project and was going to help write it, we got right to work on finding the universal point to the book that we could sort of blow out and make a part of Annie’s life.
There are definitely some cringe-worthy moments on this show. There’s a meeting with a fitness instructor in a coffee shop that is the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Did you want to push people a bit and maybe make them feel uncomfortable in the same ways that Annie is made to feel uncomfortable because of her weight?
I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think you’re probably right. That coffee shop scene really happened to me. Someone grabbed my wrist and said, ‘You aren’t meant to carry around all this weight, you’re really small underneath.’ I really believe that the person thought she was helping me. She thought she was doing me a favor and telling me something that was possible for me. I smiled and said, ‘Oh thank you, wow.’ I think part of what we were trying to show is that there are these assertions made and you’re sort of meant to smile and say thanks but [to see] that from Annie’s point of view, if someone’s watching and they’ve maybe said something like that to someone that now, they understand how it makes a person feel. It’s just the other side of the coin.