Lindy West has been immersed in music her entire life. Her father, Paul West, was a lounge-y pianist around Seattle. She sang in choir and played multiple instruments growing up. She married a jazz musician, the experimental trumpeter and comedian Ahamefule J. Oluo. But the Seattle-based writer remains steadfast in the belief that her musical taste has always been uncool. “I think the band that I’ve seen live the most times is Tenacious D,” she admits not long after we get on the phone one recent afternoon.

This is not exactly the musical vibe of “Shrill,” the new Hulu dramedy adapted from West’s brilliant memoir of the same name. Angel Olsen has two songs in the six-episode first season, and “Voice of a Generation,” by the Oi! band Blitz, plays as a cheeky wink while the protagonist’s ex-punk boss throws a tantrum about not being The Man. “If anyone had a hand in steering the music, it was Aidy [Bryant],” says West of the show’s lead, who plays Portland alt-weekly journalist Annie Easton. “She has a really clear vision about everything.”

Watching “Shrill” is a bit disorienting if you’ve followed West’s career, which took her from blogging about film and fat acceptance at The Stranger to writing high-profile columns for the New York Times and The Guardian. Annie is like Lindy but also isn’t. For one, even though West is a writer on the series, there’s no great way to take personal essays about specific life events and create entire characters out of them. What the two share, most crucially, is the sense that they are fat everywomen navigating the bumpy but thrilling waters of self acceptance. And for once, thank god, that role doesn’t include being the “sassy,” forever-single sidekick.

Ahead of the “Shrill” premiere on March 15, West—who served as an executive producer—called us up to discuss what’s been on her stereo of late.


Wilson Phillips: “Hold On” (1990)