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TIFF 2023 Review: Fitting In – “Nuanced and sensitive in its approach”

Emily Hampshire and Maddie Ziegler in FITTING IN. Courtesy of TIFF

“The body is not a thing, but a situation.”

An appropriate opening to Molly McGlynn‘s semi-autobiographical feature, Fitting In (previously titled Bloody Hell).  That’s followed up with a quote from Jennifer’s Body written by Diablo Cody, “Hell is a teenage girl.”  Whichever way you slice it, we know from the onset that our protagonist is in for a difficult time.

Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) has recently moved into her deceased grandmother’s house with her single mother, Rita (Schitt’s Creek‘s Emily Hampshire).  She’s an athlete at school, often found training with her best friend Vivian (Djouliet Amara) and she’s got a major crush on Adam (D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai of Reservation Dogs).  On the surface, she seems like a pretty normal teen, and as things with Adam progress, she wants to consider getting on birth control for when she’s ready to have sex.

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

Only thing is, she hasn’t even had her period, and when the doctor examines her it quickly snowballs into needing a myriad of tests.  The male gynaecologist tells her she has Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH), a genetic condition where she was born without a cervix, or a uterus, and has a shortened vaginal canal.

Prescribed a box of dilators which look basically like tiny dildos, she’s sent on her way without any sensitivity.  If they don’t work, she can consider surgery, but she’ll never be able to carry a child, and at least right now, sex is out of the question.  As Lindy comes to terms with her new reproductive reality, she starts to pull away from those around her, and wonders where exactly she does fit in.

McGlynn describes this film as a ‘traudmedy’ in so far as it’s a comedy based on her own personal trauma of being diagnosed with MRKH.  As such, this personal story feels exactly that, nuanced and sensitive in its approach, yet not lacking in humour.  The film, which McGlynn also wrote, has specific details like Lindy finding a sympathetic glance from a female gynaecological intern, that feel in the moment so intimate that they must be rooted in reality.

That moment also really pushes Ziegler to a beautiful performance.  As the clinician does her examination while the mostly male medical students look on, a single tear rolls down her cheek.  It really highlights the importance of diversity in the medical field and how exploited Lindy feels.  She’s just a teachable case, not a person whose entire life will be affected by this diagnosis.

It’s always nice to see movies about teenagers seem realistic.  Not every teen is from American Pie or Superbad, some, like the ones in Fitting In, navigate their lives and their burgeoning sexuality responsibly!  These kids talk about things openly, they lean on their friendships.  They still have some teen angst and hormones, yet they feel authentic.

McGlynn never makes Fitting In feel forced into a box, resulting in the freedom to openly discuss things that aren’t typically talked about.  Periods!  The Uterus! Vaginas! Women’s healthcare!  McGlynn, brave to share such a personal journey, manages to bring all this to the forefront, all while emphasizing that Lindy’s journey is less about actually fitting into some ideal of ‘normalcy’ and more about the importance of loving one’s self, fully.  No matter who you are.

Fitting In had its Canadian Premier at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th. It was the inaugural Sloan Science on Film Showcase selection, telling a coming-of-age story shaped by medical science.  For more information please head to

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  1. I enjoy coming of age type films even though I am far from young. I missed out on a lot of experiences.
    or growth in my youth. I plan to see this and experience more about human diversity and equity from more authentic films like this. It’s also nice to see Ms. Ziegler expand her burgeoning career, growing more in her available acting options. TY for a well written review.

    • Thanks again Deborah for your thoughtful review. I as well am far from young but still found something that drew me to this movie. I hope you do too! And I hope you enjoy it when you see it 🙂

  2. I will be going to this film on the weekend as a proud father of the founder and executive director of MRKH Canada. My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 16 and has since been an advocate for getting the word out about this syndrome that affects 1 in 5000 women. I’m sure I will shed some tears as it will bring back memories of our experience.

    • That’s amazing. I hope you enjoy the film.

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing your, and your daughter’s experience. I hope this film makes her feel seen! Please let us know your thoughts. Thanks for reading. All the best to you both!

      • I thought the film was very well done. Here is what my daughter had to say about the experience of being invited to the private screening that we went to in Toronto on the weekend.

        “The first time I saw Fitting In was so much of a blur because of the anticipation, anxiety and surreal feeling of seeing “my life” up on a screen. Seeing it a second time, I still felt all of those things, but was able to take it all in more easily, and truly appreciate the craft behind this movie. I cannot give enough praise to Director Molly McGlynn for sharing her MRKH story and actress Maddie Ziegler for portraying it in the most raw, vulnerable way, while still maintaining a comical, relatable film for anyone to enjoy.
        I had the honour of meeting Molly at TIFF and now Maddie at the Toronto premiere of Fitting In last night. The compassion that radiates from these two is incredible. The respect Maddie showed for the MRKH Community is something that really moved me and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet her and thank her for doing such a wonderful job capturing the MRKH experience.
        Shout out to Emily Hampshire and Djouliet Amara as well for an amazing job as co-stars in the film and for also being so sweet last night, spending time getting to know myself and a few of the other MRKH women who attended. It was a truly unforgettable experience and it honestly feels like it was all a dream.”

        My daughter is always happy to speak with anyone who will listen about MRKH in order yo get the word out there. It’s amazing how little information there is out there even within the medical community.

        Thanks fo listening

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