The Saturday Night Live star’s real-life experience is portrayed during the upcoming first episode of season three of Shrill, according to The Washington Post, which sees her character Annie Easton arrive at her doctor’s office only to be informed that her regular physician is away.
In the episode, Bryant is then seen by a substitute doctor, who casually recommends that she look into gastric bypass surgery, a type of weight-loss procedure that involves “creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting the newly created pouch directly to the small intestine,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Speaking to The Post, Bryant said that the scene was based on a real interaction she had with a doctor during a “standard insurance process” before she could begin filming for The Big Sick in 2016, with the actress recalling that the physician told her “people do it all the time”.
According to Bryant, the unsolicited advice stemmed from the common assumption that her goal is to lose weight.
“Their assumption is that I have that as a goal, and just by looking at me, they assume that’s the reason I’m there at the doctor’s office,” she said. “And there’s an assumption that if you’re fat, you’ve given up on yourself. And it’s like, I exercise all the time. I don’t eat doughnuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
However, according to the 33-year-old, she also doesn’t mind the word “fat,” telling the outlet that “it is a descriptor” and that by using the adjective, she takes the power out of it.
“It is a descriptor and, like, I am fat,” Bryant said. “To me, it’s like taking the power out of it. It doesn’t have to be so loaded. It’s just true, and sitting with that, it makes it easier for me. It just feels a little less frightening.”
While she doesn’t mind using the word to describe herself, Bryant, who is a writer and executive producer for Shrill as well as the star, makes sure to avoid falling into stereotypes in regards to her character’s weight on the show.
According to Bryant, this means reimagining the “the fat lady sex scene,” which she said usually consists of a plus-sized woman jumping onto a man and him falling over, a trope that she called “so demeaning and devastating”.
“I can think of about a million examples, and I won’t name names, where sex between a plus-sized woman and a man is represented by her jumping on him and then he falls over,” she told The Post. “That’s a classic. And there’s something so demeaning and devastating about that to me. It feels like trying to joke it away rather than sincerely finding an actual funny moment. In a normal sex scene between two normal-sized people, you could still find comedy in that. And I think our show does.”
Bryant’s decision to portray her doctor’s appointment on Shrill is not the first time she has taken inspiration from real-life experiences, as she previously told The Hollywood Reporter that a scene in which she is approached by a personal trainer and told she could be “so pretty” if she lost weight also happened to her.
“Someone really did grab my wrist and said: ‘You’re actually really small and you’re not meant to carry that much weight around.’ That’s an insane thing. How do you receive the message? You’re trying not to be rude back but they’ve cut you to the bone,” she recalled, adding that there are a lot of elements “that are from my life” or from Lindy West’s, the author who wrote the memoir that inspired the show.
Season three of Shrill premieres on 7 May.