Is Shrill better then Girls?
Could this be the authentic modern show that people were waiting to watch?
At first I'll admit, I was on the fence about trying out this show. Seeing shows about awkward women navigating through weird moments in life was starting to get a bit stale, and I wasn't sure if Shrill was going to be one of those shows.
There will be a plethora of awkward moments in life , it’s easy to relate to, but it almost felt like it was repetitive from having Sex and the City, and then Girls. I had a feeling this would be following in those steps for a repetitive show. I still wanted to try it out, but I opted to wait until I was in the mood to watch this to analyze it or enjoy it.
I selected the first episode, and throughout the first couple of minutes of getting introduced to this show, I couldn't help but find some eerie comparisons to Girls.
It opens up with the main character Annie trying to be comfortable with her body.
-That’s Girls, it’s just like Hannah and how she is constantly degrading her body image.
Annie is a writer having a awkward placement in her employment.
-That’s Girls, Hannah's a writer that fluctuates between unsatisfying work.
I see a bitchy, weird, and quirky boss
-That’s Girls - it’s the same guy, John Cameron Mitchell, who played the editor for Hannah on Girls and now he plays the boss in Shrill.
I see she has a terrible love interest
-That’s Girls! That’s just like Adam! It’s literally Adam! Right down to being shirtless and having a weird side gig as the opening for his character.
AND there's even a mention to a character named Marnie. It's for one moment in episode 3 of Shrill, but that felt too bizarre that it was a reference to Girls or just taken from Girls.
Despite those details I mentioned to what I observed in the first episode, and thinking on it now after I did my homework to keep this as neutral as possible. I would say this is just another installment of creating a show that centers on familiar territory and sought out to try something new in a different side of storytelling. There's always room for making a different twist on a concept. As much as I complain about having to see a show about a female writer that struggles with changes and strives for success, however Shrill did something different as I watched more episodes which proved me wrong. I was proved wrong that this wasn't a ripoff of Girls. I would say that most of the show does have some odd conveniences. John Cameron Mitchell's casting in the show, as well as Aidy Bryant's casting after she was the last seasons of Girls.
When Lena Dunham created Girls there was some moments where she went a little too far but she was also the first one to create certain scenarios to relate to women that go through certain awkward ventures.
As a young woman I can relate to some of those awkward moments of trying to navigate through a career or troubled relationships.
So the points I’m going to make isn't going to be too critical of what Girls did, because I still very much love the show but there are some stuff that Shrill did in a better limelight.
Annie’s a much better character then Hannah
Making that the opening, it's very strong and severe but this is why.
I've mentioned about the close comparisons that Hannah and Annie have in common.
True, both characters are trying to get to a achievable place in life, balancing their life with professionalism. They both have rough patches in their roles as a doted only daughter in the family (ironically they both have great relationships with their father and have a overbearing mother).
Hannah started out as a aimless character, she is very selfish at the start of the show. She had to go through some major hardships to learn what it means to be an adult. She does have some moments she has to learn what it means to put someone else's needs above her own or for towards her writing career. She struggled to find the the balance, but over the course of six seasons, she got there. Hannah has it a bit muddled to what her goals and ambitions are for herself as a writer.
Annie is a empowering, humble, likeable, and despite the naive nature, she’s very mature, if she made a mistake she was quick to make it right with someone. She does make very quick resolves in reckless decisions that were out of her control at the time, because we are flawed humans, we are embedded to make a illogical, accidental decision.
As a writer Hannah, is very hypocritical to her work as well as the work of others. In season 3, when she was working as article writer for a magazine company, she was talking about her frustrations in her placement of employment in the struggles to be known as a writer. She went on to say that she was a real writer, her co-workers had told her of their own achievements in writing in Poetry awards, special recognition, etc. Which are all equal, in any field of writing: Poetry, story, journalism, articles, autobiography, anything, it's equal.
Annie has never undermined any of her co-workers for what they had to do, true she might make a light roast to make a stance about why there is a certain placement for them and why is her journalism submissions getting scrapped or heavily edited. She did make some spontaneous decisions to speak her voice despite the consequences at her work establishment. She does speak up for herself but not to a outlandish, self-centered extant.
Annie adapted to her problems and persevered through. Even if she’s did had a moment that she made a irresponsible choice , she owned up to it and admitted fault and took responsibility. She makes the resolves with Fran
In episode 4 of Girls, Hannah tells Adam that she doesn't want to be with him because he doesn't treat her right, she even tells him with confidence as much as it hurts her because she wants it to work but knows it's not a healthy or ideal relationship, but as soon as Adam makes a move, it takes away all the strength she had in that statement.
In episode 3 of Shrill, Annie finds out that Ryan forgot to attend her work party as her partner, something that she was looking forward to that embarrassed and upset her. She told him within the same episode that she didn't want to be with him or near him. The next day as Ryan tried to apologize and make up, Annie was quick to try to run to him, but stopped to maintain her composure as a headstrong woman. She learned to move on within the same episode, (This of course changed in the duration of the two seasons, but that moment was a great scene to showcase for confidence and courage).
But even though Hannah had a lot of maturing to do, Annie did have some rash consequences to a spontaneous nature that does show us that sometimes success doesn't warrant controversy but it will have a complications.
These two ladies have their problems to deal with it, but Annie was faster to make up for whatever she does and it was nice to see her face the music as opposed to Hannah that just stretches her problems out or runs away from them.
Fran vs. Marnie
I'm hitting Girls in the face pretty hard, and I feel terrible to make a negative contrast of this show, but I feel this point is one that most would agree with.
In Girls, Marine is a selfish character all the way through, It made it harder to watch her character in later seasons as she just never matured, she prides herself on being a great friend and will do anything to have the spotlight to be credited for the great things she does.
Fran is fantastic, an absolute gem of a human being. Supportive and stern as a friend to Annie. Compared to Marnie who is entirely selfish and manipulative.
Fran has her fare share of problems with what she wants for her life or tries to figure things out. If she has a little disagreement with Annie over the situations they find themselves in, they are quick to disagree and move on, there's a quicker resolve within the same episode as opposed to other shows where the conflict is stretched out so long like a rubber band.
True, in reality some problems wouldn't be fixed within the span of what feels like a day in that episode's time-frame. I've had problems with friends that can drag on for months or years, but then we get that one friend that we can be open with to share the problem and clearly hear the other person's side to it with respect and compassion, then a problem could be forgiven and forgotten without festering on it.
I have friends who are like Fran that will be willing to listen to what I have to say that bothered me and problems are resolved and nothing changed. But I have also had friends like Marnie that just couldn't agree to disagree, or maturely understand the problem to hear the entire problem without being presumptive or dismissive.
The Coverage on Heavy Topics
Nowadays shocking topics are a norm of TV shows, there's not too many topics that can be covered now that would be as controversial or shocking, it's just a new norm. If you look at shows like Murphy Brown, the shocker talker was about the idea of a young woman taking of a child without a husband. If a show were to do that today there are many different options to expand a commentary on any topic without heavy controversy because it's being accepted.
Some of the jokes in Girls do take a comical cringe approach to serious topics, and so does Shrill, but Shrill was able to find that balance between comedy and emotional moments.
This screencapped moment right here was the exact moment I knew I wanted to continue to watch the show. There was nothing was discussed, the moment spoke for itself as Annie rests after the abortion, she's tired and Fran just wants to be there for support in any way. I liked the fact that this scene was quiet, it let the atmosphere speak for the characters.
It's a well acted and placed scene for something as critical as covering the topic of abortion. It didn't need an awkward segue, it was a subtle, emotional moment and it was centered on Annie and Fran being quiet because there is nothing to say but silently saying though actions, I'm glad you are my best friend. Moments like these don't get much attention. Most scenes that cover abortion just show the procedure and then it's done. In this pilot episode, it was refreshing to see the emphasis on the friend taking care of Annie, that's the overlooked factor is the one who will actually be there through the entire procedure and afterwards, that was crafted to a perfect encapsulation.
Whereas Girls sort of skirts around important topics and has it rushed or pushed to a vulgarity extent. To throw another example in there, Sex and the City, which took a severe shallow approach to any topic in the show because of it's shock value.
Carrie Bradshaw was crude to her friend that had a casual sex life, yet Carrie writes a sex column, which means she would have some sexual adventures she writes about. Carrie Bradshaw is also a homophobic person after having a date with a man who identified as a bisexual.
The awkward moments aren’t harsh. In Girls, there is almost an extreme as to how far they will take a scene, there is almost a rarity to having an emotional scene . The awkward moments that does come in a scene in Shrill, doesn’t feel as mean spirited .
In Girls, there is a lot of railroading, not many of the characters listen to each other, to process the problems of the other person.
In the episode Pencil, Leslie Grossman's cameo character as Amadi's Wife was very supportive, respectful, and alert to listen to what Annie had to say. Given the nature of the show she did talk about setting her up on a date to have lots of sex, but it was still conveyed as a sweet gesture in it's own weird way. She was trying to help Annie move on.
In the video, I made a tangent note to talk about the character Ruthie, she is one that has been crafted with steady character development. She does slowly have a respect Annie. Still, there are moments when Ruthie does go a bit too far and she does make up for it by hanging out with Annie at work. Steadily making a friendship and being comfortable around her, which is a great, spot-on example to show how a budding friendship works, slow and steady.
I was really ragging on Ryan because I had to make it show how he was presented and then his eventual growth when he proved himself to be worthy of Annie's boyfriend.
I'm not gonna lie that my first impression of Ryan's character for the first couple of episodes annoyed me like I've never felt towards a fictional character. There had to be some kind of tiny redemption for this guy within the first season if I saw his character becomes a staple among the cast.
I loved Adam in Girls, many can attest that he was the only character that really kept the light going in the show despite the fact that it is called Girls. Adam and Hannah rushed into their relationship, without knowing what they want for themselves or what the want out of the relationship. Every time they broke up, it was because they had minor disagreements, Adam was the one I rooted for when he pointed out how petty and demeaning Hannah was to herself. She kept using it as an excuse for being selfish, which Adam called her out on at the end of the first season. Despite the ups and downs he has with Hannah, he still does deeply care for her. In turn, she slowly does make it a point to be a better and selfless girlfriend for Adam.
Ryan is still navigating his priorities for Annie as well as what he wants in life, it's hard to balance it. It doesn't make him a bad character to be aimless, we are lost until we get our lives in the path we want. It could be people that need to be a priority or having people that aren't in our priorities, it's a tricky situation as an adult. I even like the fact that they both Annie and Ryan clearly state they have no idea what they are doing, that was refreshing to see these two actually admit that instead of ignoring the obvious problems.
I'm gonna talk about Fran again because I loved the fact that she was a character that wasn't strapped down to relationships for the sole purpose of being in a relationship or just forced it to work. She enjoyed her flings, she's comfortable with her casual dating life until she wants a relationships as opposed to throwing herself into a relationship where she might not know if this woman is who she wants.
Everyone is perfectly quirky, and I’m not just saying it to be sugarcoating. Armani, Ruthie, Ryan, Annie's parents, Ryan's friends, etc.
Even the antagonizing annoying boss Gabe has a weirdness to him that makes him entertaining to watch when he’s being a terrible boss. Honestly, I loved John Cameron Mitchell in Girls despite how short-lived his character was, it was a pleasure to see what else this guy could give us. He may be a typecast actor for crude and sassy character, but he does a great job in roles like these. It was wonderful to see him in a expansion to this widely expressive character.
There is a balance with all of these characters in Annie's life, they still hold the show without being under-utilized as a character to be used in the show. Many of these characters are flawed, but they are quick to make a resolve because of how many of these characters care for each other.
I have made my point to be neutral on all the topics about this show's comparison to the somewhat same criteria on Girls.
Girls has a weird awkwardness and that's OK, Shrill has a charming awkwardness and that's OK.
But despite the comparisons I made about how it’s like Girls. I wouldn’t say it’s better than Girls, but I would say that Shrill was able to expand on different ideas for the plot of a young woman as a writer with a viewpoint that was centered on topics without stretching them out. It has done a wonderful representation on the main focus which was body positivity which is what sets Shrill in it's identity from the others like Sex and the City and Girls.
But if you need on more reason to watch Shrill, I'll give you one more and this might be the reason it would be sold on you-
Marv from Home Alone plays Annie's father, that should be reason if anything else.