Seattle writer Lindy West’s first foray into television comes to an end with the third and final season of Hulu’s “Shrill,” streaming May 7. But it won’t be West’s last TV writing gig.
Based on her 2016 book, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” the streaming series stars “Saturday Night Live” regular Aidy Bryant as Annie, a character inspired by West who, like West once did, works at an alternative weekly newspaper, albeit a fictional alt-weekly in Portland instead of at Seattle’s The Stranger.
The show’s original premise about life as a fat woman gets revisited in an early doctor’s examination scene in the new season, but overall it’s less the focus of the show’s swan song.
“I think Aidy and I both had this realization discovering that I was excited to move beyond sort of writing about and processing being fat,” West says. “At the beginning I felt this great sense of responsibility to make the fat show for the fat kids, which I still feel like we did, and did in a way that was really profound and moving and healing for me. But it really crystallized this sense of wanting so intensely to be more than that, which is something that was kind of a feedback loopback into my own life. The last book that I put out was just a totally goofy book of movie reviews. It wasn’t personal essays about my body, which is sort of where I had been for a long time.”
Executive producer Ali Rushfield, who worked alongside West and Bryant in crafting all three seasons of “Shrill,” says the team did not know going into it that this would be the show’s final season.
“We knew somewhere in the middle with enough time to make it an ending that we were good with, and feel like it is a good end to the series and lands the characters in a good place,” Rushfield says.
Viewers should not expect to see all the show’s relationships tied up in a neat bow. Rushfield says the season’s theme is about intimacy.
“Maybe that is the last piece in her feeling confident about herself,” Rushfield says. “But I think it also has to do with friends and life and it’s not just about her. It’s about people around her as well. What does [intimacy] actually mean, in romantic and nonromantic ways?”
While authors often just sell the rights to their books to movie and TV producers, West says she always wanted to be involved in the “Shrill” series.
“I said from the very beginning I’ll take whatever they’ll give me, however much I can be there and be learning this industry and working in this medium that I love so much,” West says. “I’d never made TV before so the whole thing has been a learning process for me. Moving away from my own life and into Annie as her own person was really fun. I got to learn how to write fiction essentially, which I’ve never done.”
Her involvement in “Shrill” changed how West thinks about her career going forward.
“I had this solitary career until now, writing in my house on my couch,” West says. “Working on this huge collaborative project has opened up possibilities to me about what else I could do, being less of a passenger in my career and more pushing it forward and not just taking opportunities that come to me but seeking out what I actually want to do.”
West and her husband, writer-comedian Ahamefule J. Oluo, are writing a script together for executive producer Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Bridgerton”) and her upcoming Netflix anthology, “Notes on Love.”
“I love working with Shondaland, they’re so great,” West says. “I think our episode is gonna be funny and weird.”