The third and final season of the Hulu comedy series debuts on Friday -- by bittersweet coincidence, on Bryant's 34th birthday -- and the actress and comedian says the last episodes of the comedy give fans exactly what they've been waiting for.
"It is our best season yet," she tells ET's Lauren Zima. "It is kind of the juiciest, sauciest, most fun season we have ever done... and I think it is a pretty satisfying ending as well, that I think is really relatable."
The show, based on Lindy West's memoir, Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, stars Bryant -- who is also in the midst of her ninth season as a cast member on Saturday Night Live-- as Annie Easton, a young woman struggling to find her voice as an online writer, find her love in a sea of bad boyfriends and find her place in a world that sees her as overweight above all else.
Throughout the first two seasons, Bryant's character has started to find her confidence, professionally and personally, and when the actress says the final episodes get "saucy," that's more than just a metaphor. "I mean, there is a hot tub moment, there is some barbecue sauce on a butthole moment. When I say juicy, I mean juicy!"
Literal sauce aside (but with a special shout-out to the show's intimacy coordinators, who "really help take the weirdness out of it"), Bryant notes that she's ultimately very satisfied with where Annie's journey has taken her over the course of the show's three-season run.
"She has been trying to find her confidence, she has been trying to find her voice, she has been trying to shake off this bad boyfriend and this is the season where she actually does it," she says of her character. "And she is out there and trying stuff and it does not always work, but she is trying and taking some big swings."
Shrill's third season wasn't planned to be its last prior to production -- the announcement was made in January -- but Bryant graciously notes, "I think we know the show well enough that it just felt kind of easy on some level to know what to do."
"We did not get this bell ringing, golden prize, A-plus, 'She did it, it is over!' type moment," she adds of the final episodes. "It is a little bit more real than that, so that takes some of the pressure off of it, I think."
Annie's journey with her body image and self-esteem has always been a big part of the show, and while Bryant admits that there is sometimes extra "pressure" to deliver on those parts of the story, the universal relatability of feeling uncomfortable in one's own skin also makes them feel "approachable," from a creative standpoint.
"When I'm thinking about body image stuff or feeling awkward or weird, it's like, most people feel that way too, so it just makes doing those scenes feel like I'm connected to the audience in a really nice way," she says. "And it just flows naturally because you're like, I've lived it, and I know how that kind of stuff feels."
As for writing, producing, and starring in the show in the midst of a global pandemic, there was nothing familiar about that. But for the Shrill cast and crew, getting to reunite in a safe, regularly tested working environment late last year was a joy and a privilege, Bryant recalls.
"To be able to get a little piece of normalcy, that was the thing that made me feel better," she says. "There were scenes where it was written in the script that me and my friend, Lolly [Adefope], who plays Fran, will hug, and it was like, now I have legal reason that I get to hug my friend in COVID! It was the best, and those kind of scenes were so electric, because we were so excited to touch each other."
As for what's next, Bryant is wrapping up the final three episodes of SNL's 46th season and then looking forward to working on new writing projects -- as well as having some time off. "This will be my first summer where I'm not fully writing and filming a season of TV, so I'm pretty pumped," she notes.
Thefinal season of Shrill is streaming now on Hulu.