Samantha Irby Shares How She Went From Author to TV Writer

Comedic essayist and blogger Samantha Irby wrote a lengthy article about how she was tapped to be a part of a TV show perfectly made for her.

Samantha, the author of the best-selling essay collections We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, Meaty and Wow, No Thank You, is a writer on Hulu’s Shrill, starring Saturday Night Live‘s Aidy Bryant based on a novel by Lindy West.

Shrill follows Aidy’s character, Annie, as she navigates her mid-20s as a low-paid journalist with a slacker boyfriend, aging parents, and a supportive friend circle in Portland. Except Annie is a plus-size woman who realizes she can be comfortable with her body and get whatever she desires.

In a recent Guardian article titled “I had zero experience in a writers’ room. Then I was offered my dream job in LA,” Samantha describes how Lindy invited her to be a part of the Los Angeles writers’ team for Shrill, the TV show. With her characteristically claustrophobic writing style with packing as many words as she can into a sentence, Samantha expressed how she dealt with her imposter syndrome.

After the first week, I waited for someone to show up and tell me, “OK, hoe, it’s cute that you thought we were just gonna let you sit in a chair and get paid to think about imaginary people. Here’s your scrub brush, you remember where the toilets are, right?” And… I would do it. I would scrub those toilets.

Within her two months on staff, she said she warmed up to LA by watching celebrities, collecting crystals, and eating a lot of tacos.

She also discusses one of the biggest moments on the TV series during the first season where Annie fights to cover a story on a body-positive pool party for women in the “Pool” episode. She goes to the Fat Babe Pool Party, fully clothed, unbelieving how the women are comfortable in their swimsuits. Then she takes in the energy around her and jumps into the pool.

Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton in Shrill

The popular episode saw plagiarism claims by Virgie Tovar, the author of the 2018 body-positive manifesto You Have the Right to Remain Fat. Virgie argued Shrill lifted the scene from her book and her TEDx talk. Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want To Talk About Race and Samantha’s friend, defended the scene she said is verified as being taped the same time Virgie’s book was made available, making the scene coincidental.

Samantha, who wrote the episode, talks about how she came up with the idea of the pool party and placing Annie in the midst of the uplifting event.

“In Chicago, I would go to dance parties, and clothing swaps, and exercise classes that were made specifically for fat women,” Samantha wrote in the Guardian article. “I thought it would be cool to see Annie seeing all different types of bodies unabashedly enjoying decadent party snacks while wearing crop tops and bikinis poolside.”

Samantha and Lindy, who both started their writing careers on blogs, are among a growing list of authors who have segued their acclaimed literary careers into the world of TV. Another example are Celeste Ng and Attica Locke, who are two of the producers behind Hulu’s new series Little Fires Everywhere, based on Celeste’s top-rated 2017 novel.

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