by Rachel Steinhardt
In 2011, we promised you that “a new breed of girls-behaving-badly comedy is ready for the spotlight.” But it has taken an additional four years for popular culture to deliver female-led comedy that is not only mainstream but dominates a summer film slate. Post-Bridesmaids, this summer will bring out four such films: Hot Pursuit, Pitch Perfect 2, Spy and Trainwreck. After that, expect all-female remakes of Ghostbusters and 21 Jump Street.
In contrast to 2011, though, the edginess of female comedy in 2015 is not merely about raunch, or, as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd puts it, “Dirty words from pretty mouths.” Maureen misses the mark: the shock-factor of female comedy today is its incisive social commentary, not its bawdy jokes (though, sometimes bawdy jokes can be in the service of incisive social commentary).
One comedienne in particular exemplifies just how ready consumers are (finally!) for seriously smart satire delivered with suggestive sass. The stampede of clicks on clips from consecutive weeks of Amy Schumer’s show, Inside Amy Schumer, demonstrate that she knows exactly which unfair and hypocritical issues consumers are dying to see skewered, and she delivers the goods reliably. Furthermore, unlike many other Millennial women we’ve researched, Schumer doesn’t shy away from self-identifying as a feminist (Flavorwire.com, 17 March 2015) and may be helping reclaim the term for her gen. Here are seven of the most-viewed Inside Amy Schumer sketches, and our take on why they resonated so strongly with consumers’ overwhelming desire for media to Get Real about women.
“12 Angry Men”
Schumer knows that women are sick of men passing judgment on their bodies, both in real life and in media. After reading internet “deliberations” on whether she, herself, would be considered attractive enough to be on TV, she spoofed the ultimate serious deliberation: the 1957 film where jurors argue in search of a verdict.
“Milk Milk Lemonade”
Suddenly, pop culture is rife with odes to the derriere. Schumer hits on consumer discomfort (or, at least, befuddlement) with this fixation, as though the hyper-sexualization and general objectification of other aspects of female anatomy is more acceptable (Schumer, and many consumers, know it’s most certainly not).
“Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup”
Women receive mixed messages about beauty standards every day. Schumer plays on the ubiquity of the “inner beauty” trope from boy bands like One Direction, while pointing out that nearly all images of women in mass media feature painted on “beauty.” Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth about makeup, media! Women quickly glommed on to the #girlyoudontneedmakeup hashtag to prove they were in on the joke.
“Last F—able Day”
Why are lead roles for Xer and Boomer actresses so few and far between? Consumers know why entertainment brands limit them: Because less sex appeal will return less cash at the box office. It sounds cynical, and Schumer takes that consumer cynicism to the extreme in the sketch where her favorite extremely talented actresses explain what happens on the day they’re deemed too old to reel in moviegoers.
Millennial women struggle to accept compliments from each other, preferring instead to make ludicrously self-deprecating remarks. Schumer identifies the truth that a healthier response to a compliment is, simply, “Thank you.”
“Ask If Birth Control is Right for You”
Marketing messages within birth control commercials encourage women to ask their doctors for advice, but male legislators often see it as their role to attempt to wield power over women seeking readily available birth control options. That’s just as absurd as a mailman doling out opinions on the matter, but that’s what happens in Schumer’s commercial parody.
“Football Town Nights”
Using a popular TV drama as a common touchstone, Schumer identifies the pervasive, systemic and tacit permissiveness inherent to rape culture.
Click here for Inside Amy Schumer episodes.