What Shrill can teach us about sex and dating

The top ten lessons from Hulu's new show

So we LOVE Hulu’s new show Shrill, based on Lindy West’s memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. This show is bursting with hilarious, tender moments and life lessons, and seriously, if you haven’t already watched it, check it out. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are the top 10 lessons about sex and dating that one can learn from these six all-too-short episodes:

1. Don’t use a corndog as a dildo, even if it’s not dipped in sauce

This one seems pretty self-explanatory. Some things in life could potentially double as a dildo, but this is not one of them.

2. 69 is not best done standing up

Ruthie is one of the funniest characters on the show, but she is a terrible coworker with terrible ideas. Unless you are literally Simone Biles, do not attempt.

3. Don’t lie about what you want to make someone else happy.

Look, we know it’s hard, and we’ve probably all done it at some point, but just know that you don’t have to lie and say you want something you don’t want just to try to keep someone around. You don’t have to lie about it feeling better with no condom for you too, when it really doesn’t, and actually you’d like to use a condom. You don’t have to lie and say you’re cool with going out the back when you’re not because it’s insulting and also you don’t want to scale a fence while wearing a dress.

4. You can be the boss (with or without “a fat ass and big titties”)

As Annie is coming into her power, she tells Ryan (the truly simple guy she’s hooking up with) that she just wants to talk and probably not have sex, saying, “I’m the one with the fat ass and the big titties. So I get to decide what we do.” We LOVE the sentiment, but also know you don’t have to have a fat ass and big titties (you can have a flat ass and no titties, for example) to say what you want and don’t want, in bed and in general.

5. Don’t let your ex babysit your tripping dog

If your dog gets into some micro-doses of shrooms, don’t call your ex to come over and watch him, unless you’re ready to fall prey to their grilled cheeses and sexy talk.

6. Abortion is normal and okay

One of the best things about Shrill is the way the show handles Annie’s abortion. Not only does she have a really thoughtful provider performing the abortion who tells her step by step exactly what she’s doing and how she can expect to feel, but we get to see Annie being supported by her best friend, Fran, who really loves her. And the abortion isn’t a tragic, apocalyptic moment in Annie’s life. It’s a thoughtful decision for her, and it’s the biggest thing that happens to her in episode 1, but by episode 3, we’ve all moved on.

In fact, the abortion fuels Annie’s burgeoning sense of control over her life. “I feel really, really good,” she says to Fran a couple days later. “I got myself into this huge f-cking mess, but I made a decision, only for me, for myself, and I got myself out of it […] I don’t know, I feel very f-cking powerful right now.” Making the decision that was right for her springboards Annie to go after what she deserves and wants. Later that day, she burst right through the front door of Ryan’s house and introduces herself to his roommates, convinces her boss to give her an assignment for a real article, and tells off a fat-shaming personal trainer who won’t leave her alone. A glorious day.

7. Get on top and take the dang bra off

As they say, “if he dies, he dies.” If being on top feels good for you, but you’re holding back because you don’t want your partner to see you from that angle, give it up. They know what you look like already! And lord knows you want that bra off anyway. It could be vulnerable, sure, but it could also just be super powerful and fun.

8. Yes, you can get emergency contraception without a prescription

It’s cool that Shrill tackled the topic of EC, but there are a few things we want to clarify. First of all, EC is supposed to be available to buy straight off the shelf, without talking to a pharmacist (as Annie has to do). But that’s unfortunately not always the case. You definitely CAN get some kinds without a prescription, as Annie does—specifically the Levonorgestrel-based kinds, like Plan B One-Step and Next Choice.

Secondly, Shrill makes it seem like if you’re over a certain weight, you’re out of luck when it comes to emergency contraception. That’s not the case. There ARE some studies that suggest that levonorgestrel-based EC may be less effective in women who weigh 165 pounds or more (but that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or not worth taking at all). Ella, which is a different type of emergency contraception, is more effective than levonorgestrel-based ECs, but it also becomes less effective if you weigh 195 pounds or more (and you also need a prescription for it). But again, that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or not worth taking if it’s all that’s available to you. If you weigh over 195 pounds, your best bet is going to be the copper IUD, which is the most effective type of emergency contraception for people of all weights. Take this quiz to figure out the best form of EC for you.

Another thing the show leaves out is that, after “raw-dogging,” (Ryan’s preferred terminology, which makes Fran gag) Annie probably needed an STI check, not just emergency contraception. Especially since we find out later that Ryan’s been having sex with someone else too, presumably also without a condom.

9. Listen to your bestie

Except when she wants to cut your bangs while super drunk. She’s always ready with the pepper spray and the vicious insults (telling Ryan he looks like “norm-core Ted Kaczynski” was one of the best things we’ve ever heard), and she wants the best for you.

10. When someone makes you a playlist (especially if it’s called “Jams to Smash to”), they like you

Proceed with that knowledge.


P.S. You can avoid the pharmacy altogether and get your EC delivered to your door. Here’s how.