When Hulu’s Shrill first came out, author Lindy West made a point of insisting it was fiction. It was a necessary distinction to make, since the series is based on her non-fiction memoir of the same name. But it didn't take too much analysis of Shrill's first episodes for viewers to realize the show, while created in a writers' room, is full of details pulled from West's life, from the "Hello, I'm Fat" article down to the main character's name (Annie Easton). And now with a new crop of episodes, fans are likely curious to find out which moments in Shrill Season 2 are based on Lindy West's true story.
Warning: Light spoilers from Shrill Season 2 follow. Luckily, West obliges. "[In] Season 2, we moved even further away from my life," she tells Elite Daily. But there are still "a million little details" from West's experiences that, while not recreated verbatim in the new season, certainly influenced the new episodes. "We got to throw this Nigerian wedding, which is not based on my life, but my husband is Nigerian — or, his dad was Nigerian," West explains. "So, this is not from my book, but it was, like, very enmeshed with my life."
Like Season 1, Season 2 also pulls a lot from West's career as a writer on the internet. "She ends up getting her job back at the paper ... And so she developed this kind of sweet working relationship with [her editor] Gabe that she didn't have before, which was certainly a part of my life — finding, developing relationships with mentors, and learning how to write from more experienced editors. I mean, that's huge."
There's also the part where Annie (played by Saturday Night Live star Aidy Bryant) reports on a women's business conference, which West divulges is loosely based on her own time covering Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness expo, In Goop Health, in 2017. "We shifted it to be this sort of commodified women's empowerment, just because I feel like that's a little bit more interesting," she says. "We wanted to do something a little bit different and comment on the ways that, I think, it's really relevant in 2020 — the ways that social justice movements can be commodified, and can be turned into a brand, and it's really questionable whether or not that's productive."
One area in which Annie's life in Season 2 deviates from West's reality is her family — specifically, one member of that family. "My dad died in 2011, and then here's someone just beautifully portraying my father [on the show]," she explains. But it still hits close to home for her. "Of course, I made the mistake of writing dialogue that's stuff my actual dad used to say, and we used my dad's actual music in the show as Bill's ... and I was just watching it on the monitor and being like, 'Oh my God, why did I do this to myself? This is devastating. Oh no!'"
West is happy with the comfortable distance Shrill keeps from reality. "Aidy gets to make Annie her own character and put herself into that character," she explains. "It's kind of the perfect situation, where I get to put all these things in the show that are really, really important to me, but without the complete vulnerability of that actually being me. I can't imagine making a biopic about myself or something, because, you know, life is embarrassing. We make horrible choices."
Another perk of fiction? Plausible deniability of whatever shady stuff the character based on you might pull. "Annie does a lot of unflattering stuff that, thankfully, I can say is not me," West says, adding with a laugh: "All the good stuff is me. All the bad stuff is not me."
Shrill Season 2 is on Hulu now.