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‘Shrill’ Accused of Plagiarizing Lauded Pool Party Scene, but Is It a Coincidence?

The Hulu series’ production timeline suggests that author Virgie Tovar’s accusations could stem from a coincidence.

Shrill -- Episode 104 -- Annie & Fran attend the Fat Babe Pool Party. Annie is so empowered by the experience and so furious with her boss, Gabe, that she posts a body positive article to the paper's website that explains exactly what it's like to be a fat woman in today's world. Annie (Aidy Bryant) shown. (Photo by: Allyson Riggs)

Aidy Bryant in “Shrill”

Allyson Riggs / Hulu

Shrill” has received acclaim for an episode featuring a body-positive pool party, but one person is taking exception with it: author Virgie Tovar, who has accused the Hulu dramedy of lifting the scene from her book “Flawless” and a Tedx Talk she gave on the same subject. In response, Ijeoma Oluo — a friend of Sam Irby, who wrote the episode in question — has pointed out that the episode was filmed the same month that the book came out (August 2018) and any similarities are a coincidence stemming from the fact that such parties have been common for decades.

Tovar, who took her accusations to Instagram, wrote that she was “worried about speaking out both because I didn’t want to sully an important moment in fat representation for anyone (fat people have so little meaningful representation. I know how much this show means to people.) and in fear of being labeled as petty or adversarial (words that are coded and used against women and people of color often).”

Oluo’s first issue with that accusation is that it’s leveled against Lindy West, who wrote the book on which “Shrill” is based and also created the series, rather than Irby, the episode’s actual writer:

Hulu has not officially responded to Tovar’s statements. IndieWire has reached out for comment.

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