Aidy Bryant stars in the television series Shrill
Why I love it
One of the reasons I read is to learn what it's like to be someone very different than I am without actually going through the unpleasantness of talking to someone very different than I am. So I've been fascinated by Lindy West, an overweight, feminist writer who loves wizards and all-things Disney and spends so much time on the Internet that it is as real to her as the not-Internet.
I imagined that spending time in such a person's head would be tedious. But it's hilarious. And delightful. And enlightening. Best of all, I finished _Shrill_ a little less judgy than I began. Toward fat people on airplanes. Toward people terrorized by anonymous Twitter users. Toward people who like wizards.
Most surprising was how relatable West's stories are. They add up to a story of someone who went from being too afraid to express herself to someone who embraces the "shrill" label with which she was saddled. Her writing is ALL CAPS struuuuuung out words, exclamation points, cultural references and talking about her friends as if they're famous; she takes the shallow style of Internet comment boards and harnesses them into an original, intimate voice. She manages to be self-righteous but also self-deprecating. I didn't know that fat people come out of the closet, but Lindy has a moment when she came out – when she was comfortable telling people she's fat. And I didn't know it could be so emotional and so funny.
I first heard West on _This American Life_ confront a troll who tormented her by pretending to be her recently deceased father, and it was brave, kind and funny – all the things that trolling someone as someone's dead dad is not. I've seen her read her stories in person, when her experience as a local standup comic helped her. But I did not imagine she could keep that level of honesty going when recounting more mundane stories about work, dating, her period. Like Gloria Steinem, Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, West makes feminism funny, which makes it more approachable. I have rarely wanted to spend more time with someone who is yelling at me.