Seattle author Lindy West continues her foray into television with season two of Hulu’s “Shrill,” debuting on the streaming service Friday, Jan. 24. Inspired by West’s life and her 2016 collection of essays, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” West serves as an executive producer on “Shrill” alongside series star Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”) and veteran showrunner Alexandra Rushfield (“Love”).
“Shrill” follows Portland alternative-weekly writer Annie (Bryant), who, through the show’s first season, found an improved relationship with boyfriend Ryan (Luka Jones) even as she quit her job after clashing with her editor (John Cameron Mitchell). Season one ended with Annie confronting her internet troll and tossing a brick through his car window.
Writing for TV is a group effort, so West was in the show’s writers room throughout the crafting of the new season’s stories. She received writing credits on the last two episodes of the eight-episode season.
“Aidy and Ali and I sketched out season two before the writers room opened, so we knew we wanted [Annie] to be navigating this freelance life and dealing with the fallout of her choices from season one,” West says. “One theme we talked about was should Annie dump Ryan at the beginning of the season as part of this journey. … We know she was unhappy with Ryan at his worst. Would she be happy with Ryan at his best? That’s a big theme of the season.”
While season one explored Annie realizing she can live a happy life in the body she has, it was a wild, instinctual, unplanned journey. West says season two presents Annie with a messier, more complicated path.
“Season two is her waking up in that new place and trying to put the pieces together and figure out, ‘What did I do?’ Blowing up your life isn’t the end of something, it’s the beginning of something and there are consequences to some of the choices she made,” West says. “Her choices in season one have complicated her life as much as they have liberated her and made her life better.”
In addition to writing on season two of “Shrill,” West has been on a book tour promoting her latest cultural critique, “The Witches Are Coming,” and writing her next book, which is due to her publisher in March. That next book, “Shit Actually,” was inspired by a reassessment of “Love Actually” she wrote during her 2012-14 stint at Jezebel.com.
“I’m basically doing a whole book of rewatching and reassessing our favorite movies and making fun of them, explaining why they’re bad,” says West, a former movie critic for Seattle’s The Stranger alt weekly. “It’s low stakes. It’s my Stranger movie-review book. Obviously I can’t help but be a little political, but for the most part it’s a fun, light, funny book.”
If Hulu orders a third season of “Shrill,” West will be back to writing for TV in the spring, putting into practice what she’s learned so far.
“A script needs to be as simple as possible because once you start shooting, everything that’s not totally necessary is going to get cut out, which is different than the way I write prose, where I can throw in every single stupid detail and aside I think of,” West says. “The bottom line is you’re trying to hold people’s attention and tell a story. I learned a lot about editing myself and in a really nice way releasing ego and being part of a team. [Writing for TV] is great practice for that.”
“Shrill”: Season two premieres Jan. 24 on Hulu.