Top 5 Comedies for Feminists
Women in Hollywood are changing the long-held, unsubstantiated belief that women aren’t funny. From last week’s 67th Annual Emmy Awards, we can see this shift in the comedic genre. Four of the seven nominated shows for “Outstanding Comedy Series” had female protagonists. In host Andy Samberg’s opening monologue at the Emmys he quipped about the lead and creator of one of those shows, Amy Schumer of Inside Amy Schumer: “Amy Schumer is nominated tonight, and I gotta say, Schumer is really, really funny. You know, for a person.” Jokes aside, women in comedy are just now being considered funny as people and not funny for their gender. Women like Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are breaking through comedy’s glass ceiling. These women are not only starring in their own shows, but they are creating them too. Audiences are beginning to laugh with women and not at them. The brilliancy of these comediennes is that they are satirizing the way women are treated. They aren’t making women the butt of the joke; instead they turn women’s experiences into jokes relatable for everyone and in doing this are creating a new tactic for empowering women. Here are some of these standout feminist comedies gracing screens this fall TV season:
1. Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) – Bitingly sarcastic and hilariously funny, Amy Schumer is on top of the comedy world right now. Her namesake show is created by and stars Schumer in various sketches that satirize issues like female beauty standards, sexuality, and gender roles. This sketch comedy won an Emmy last week for “Oustanding Variety Sketch Series”. It has featured other talented female comedians like U.Va’s own Tina Fey and Sasheer Zamata, as well as other guest stars like Zach Braff and Rachel Dratch. Schumer’s brand of humor is unrelentingly unruly. Her characters antagonize every societal rule that women are expected to abide by. One of her most recent popular sketches is a parody of the film 12 Angry Men that features the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Paul Giamatti debating when or not Amy Schumer is “hot enough” to have her own TV show. Schumer’s show is empowering for women because she calls out these kinds of prejudice in an astute, antagonizing way.
2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) – Tina Fey is responsible for creating this show about the sickeningly sweet and innocent Kimmy (Ellie Kemper from Bridesmaids), who moves to New York City after being in a doomsday cult for 15 years. She works as a nanny for wealthy Jacqueline Voorhees (played by the hilarious Jane Krakowski) and lives with a gay, struggling actor named Titus. On the surface Kimmy does not seem like a model for feminism, but rather, a victim. However, the strength of her character and the entire series lies in her power to overcome her past and start all over again. She is resilient and high-spirited as she eagerly takes on the challenge of entering into a new and strange world. For Kimmy, her discovery of feminism starts within herself.
3. Veep (HBO) – From the very first episode, Veep calls attention to the gender discrimination faced by the lead character, Vice-President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), from joking about a senator who grabbed her boob when she first came to Capitol Hill, to her weight being altered on her Wikipedia page. Even though Vice-President Meyer does not quite possess the composure or appropriateness for the White House, she dominates every room she is in and is the definition of a powerful woman. The character commands her staff and often is the only one with a backbone. Veep is also probably the only HBO show to not gratuitously display naked female bodies for ratings.
4. The Mindy Project (Hulu) – Another show created by and starring a comedic trailblazer, Mindy Kaling (of The Office fame), is The Mindy Project, which follows Mindy as she juggles her dating life with her career as a doctor. Mindy’s character fights off the insecurities that other women constantly face and in the end she loves herself, confidently knowing she is beautiful, smart, and a damn good doctor. She is a career woman who also desires to find the man of her dreams and have a family. Mindy portrays a brand of feminism not often represented in the media. She is an independent woman who is also a hopeless romantic. Her two tropes are not contradictory, which makes Mindy one of the most multifaceted characters on television.
5. Broad City (Comedy Central) – What started out as a webseries, Broad City was adapted for TV last year by producer, Amy Poehler. Starring and created by 20-something New Yorkers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Broad City is like a combination of Girls and Key and Peele. The show is relevant for millennial women trying to figure things out, following Abbi and Ilana through the mishaps and awkward situations of young adulthood they encounter while living in New York City. The leads are cool, fun-loving, and a little weird, which is refreshing for female TV characters. Abbi is a custodian and struggling artist and Ilana is a sales associate with commitment issues, and both have an appreciation for marijuana. On “Rotten Tomatoes” the show has received a 100% certified fresh rating for its second season.