Comedy television has never been more vast or vibrant. Networks are getting creative with shows that include everything from magical realism to the Seinfeldian millennial hits. Most shows have a writers’ room working tirelessly behind the scenes to create longstanding brands of humor.
And now, more than ever, those writers’ rooms are being filled with super talented women who are stampeding through the once “man’s world” of comedy and really creating funny and special episodes of television. In honor of this movement, we picked out a handful of super-talented female comedy television writers who are making strides and will take over the world of we let them…
Man Seeking Woman, Sirens
Sofia Alvarez is the writer behind the awesome female-driven Man Seeking Woman episodes—or Woman Seeking Woman if you will. She is the Liz of it all, best known for her first episode, “Teacup,” which switched the vantage point from Josh’s dating life to the worldview of his sister Liz.
Regarded as one of the best episodes of the series runs so far, “Teacup” basically reboots the premise of the series and gives viewers a look at what it is like for a woman to be going through a breakup and have to be single again. Alvarez manages to keep the over-the-top magical realism tone and style of Man Seeking Woman while at the same time exploring the differences between the plight of a single female and a single male.
In the second season, Alvarez gave viewers yet another Liz-centric episode with “Tinsel,” in which Liz becomes Santa Clause’s mistress. It’s not a holy night when Ol’ Saint Nick finds Liz drinking wine in the living room as he’s coming to leave some gifts under the tree. Then the two start a torrid love affair so tender and mild… until Mrs. Clause finds the scandalous pictures Liz mailed to the North Pole.
Alvarez does a great job of adding the female flair to the series, and it looks like that is going to continue to be her niche.
Late Night with Seth Meyers, Now Hiring with Michelle Wolf, Used People
Is it okay if I call everyone on this list my favorite? No? Okay, well here is my favorite Michelle Wolf.
Watching Wolf perform standup live is like experiencing your brain on drugs while also eating an entire pizza; a little trippy, a little kooky, nauseatingly entertaining, and somewhat inappropriate. It’s disgusting in the best possible way, and extremely filling.
But her talent does not stop there. Wolf is a writer for Late Night With Seth Meyers which has been evolving since it’s inception. But the best of Wolf can be seen on her Comedy Central web series, Now Hiring with Michelle Wolf.
The series consists of Wolf interviewing candidates to work at a startup called Spark. Season 1, episode 3, is the best of the bunch. Wolf interviews a competitive client and they go tit-for-tat on trying to solve the problem of how many ping-pong balls fit in a 747. Well, until they make out.
Broad City, Time Travelling Bong
I will get on any train Lucia Aniello is riding (conducting?). She is not only the director behind the majority of Broad City episodes, but is also credited with writing some of your favorite episodes.
One of Aniello’s gem’s, and also one of my personal favorites, is this season’s premiere “Two Chainz,” written with partner Paul W. Downs.
I really could not have asked for a better premiere. After waiting a year for everyone’s favorite lady buddies to grace our screens, the episode did not disappoint. Aniello and Downs managed to fit all the classic markers that make Broad City so popular.
Even after the bathroom montage catching fans up on everything Abbi and Ilana got up to this past year, the episode blasted off with just about as much craziness they could fit in. First off, Ilana spends the entire episode with a bicycle chain stuck to her waste. That chain remains while they endure a sample sale, try to find a bathroom, and eventually gets Ilana stuck to the back of a truck and magnetic balls. And yet, all of that does not even compare to how perfect the episode is in relaying the important message that women should build each other up. Support each other instead of tearing each other down.
If all the Broad City goodness wasn’t enough, she is also part of the Time Travelling Bong miniseries staring Paul W. Downs and Ilana Glazer.
Broad City, Difficult People
This Broad City staff writer is the definition of an up-and-comer. She has been working on the lady-friend comedy since its start three seasons ago. And though still just a staff writer, she was the opening act on the Broad City Live tour.
Forget all that, she is currently in the process of developing a show with TruTV called Inside Caucasia. You think that sounds like a show in which an African American women traverses the plains of places usually considered “white?” Well then, you are absolutely right! Good job.
Ekperigin is one of those stand-up comics and writers that is definitely going to blow up very soon. She has comedic genius and influencers like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer on her side.
Now, please watch Ekperigin and Glazer play video games and eat cookies.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Becky Mann, another one of my favorites, is one of the few females to break through the It’s Always Sunny wall. Mann’s It’s Always Sunny writing credits include “The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis,” “Mac Fights Gay Marriage,” Dee Gives Birth,” and “A Very Sunny Christmas.”
Those mark some of the most memorable moments in It’s Always Sunny history. There is a uniqueness to each of those episodes that might not be as apparent in some of the others. They are some of the few that take on politics, the socioeconomic climate, and culture in a distinct way. The underbelly of all those episodes is a lot more than the gang being up to its usual shenanigans.
In the “Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis” the show dealt with the recession and the housing bubble in a way that has probably never been done before. “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” turned an age-old debate on its head. It took the most religious character in the bunch and gave him a very real cause to fight against, except his only driving force was pure selfishness… jealously led him directly to the doors of the anti-gay movement.
The “Dee Gives Birth” episode was a very different kind of episode in its own right. The gang tries to find the father of Dee’s baby by rifling through all her old flings, but unbeknownst to them, she is simply the surrogate for Carmen and her husband ( the same marriage Mac tried to fight). The episode is really an examination of Dee’s character, which hadn’t really been done before, but in an episode that had barely any Dee in it. It did mold Dee as a strong female lead though. We discover, that despite the gang constantly tearing her down, to the outside she is a pretty powerful woman. Take no prisoners. I don’t think a man could have written such an examination of a female character without a woman’s input.
My personal favorite of Mann’s bunch is “The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis.” Any episode where Charlie plays bird lawyer extraordinaire is one that skyrockets to my list of favorites.
Master of None, Workaholics
You might recognize Zoe Jarman as Betsy Punch on The Mindy Project or her guest appearances in Modern Family, The Office, The Birthday Boys, and Greek. But, aside from being an actress, Jarman is breaking out in the writing world as well.
She was the story editor on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix hit Master of None and recently became a writer on Workaholics.
Jarman may only have two episodes, “Blood Drive” and “Death of A Salesdude,” under her belt but it is likely that her run on Workaholics will open up other comedy writing doors for her. Jarman co-wrote “Death of a Salesdude” with Sarah Peters. The episode is kind of a female coup of the office. The men are taking control and being all-around douche bags. Then TelAmeriCorp stops selling MenCo products and begins selling FemCo products, and the women get to rule the office for a while.
In a show that has been very male-focused for almost four seasons, Jarman and Peters just slid in there and did a very feminist-centric episode without losing any of the wit and charm and style that makes Workaholics so great. It’s another example that shows how much women have to add to a show, and can really bring it over the top.
Sarah Heyward started out at the youngest writer on Girls—aside from Lena Dunham.
One of my all-time favorite writers and personal icon, Jonathan Ames, was a visiting professor at Iowa Writer’s Workshop and pushed Heyward to move from novel writing to screenwriting (yes I am extremely jealous of her).
Heyward started out as an assistant on Girls, fetching coffee and Danishes before moving on to become part of the writers’ room.
She’s credited with the episode “Bad Friend” in which Hannah is instructed to do cocaine to help her writing along and becomes friends with everyone’s favorite guest star Laird.
Heyward was young when she started writing and I think “Bad Friend” is one of those episodes that has that “young” stamp on it. It’s this idea that to be creative we need to be wild. That our youth is a driving force for us to make bad decisions and toss it up to “artistic drive.” It’s the hubris of youth and Heyward added to the cause of painting that picture.
Whether you are a fan or Girls or think it’s lived at least four seasons too long, Heyward is definitely a gal to watch out for.
Garfunkel and Oates, Another Period
No list of up-and-coming comedy writers would be complete without the hilarious Riki Lindhome.
Lindhome was the Garfunkel of the Garfunkel and Oates (Kate Micucci) musical comedy duo. After their one-season television run, Lindhome went on to create and star in the Comedy Central period series Another Period with Natasha Leggero.
Lindhome is great as Garfunkel but exceeds expectations as one of the Bellacourts in Another Period. The series strikes the perfect balance at mixing Downton Abbey with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and a slight hint of that Game of Thrones incest.
Lindhome is part of the absurd comedy camp where humor crosses the line and then takes two more steps. In Another Period, Lindhome’s character is engaged in an affair with her brother. I should also probably mention that their scandalous rendezvous always have an audience made up of the entire staff. Ladies’ maids, valets, butlers, etc. And that’s not even the craziest part of it all. In the very first episode the Bellacourt sisters do cocaine with Helen Keller. I don’t know where the line is on that one.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Why? With Hannibal Burres, Clench and Release
Charla Lauriston works alongside Tina Fey on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and is also a part of the Why? With Hannibal Buress Team. And though she more than makes the list for her work on both, what really clinches it for Lauriston is her web series Clench and Release.
The web series created by, written by, and starring Lauriston is kind of like Broad City but not at all like Broad City. It is bringing more diversity to the comedy world, especially where African American female comedians and writers are concerned.
Lauriston has the unique ability to blend culture, race, and being a young female in New York City together to make an extremely entertaining series.
The best example of how Lauriston can do it all is season two, episode two, “Plan B.” After a crazy night with crush Amir, Charla has to take Plan B and ends up in a long line of women at the drugstore waiting for someone to come along and open the case for them to get “The Pill.”
Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse
I put these two talented ladies together because they are responsible for the web series turned Comedy Central comedy Idiotsitter.
A while back I wrote about having high hopes for the Idiotistter television series and urged everyone to keep an eye out for it. Let me tell you, after its first season I could not be more pleased with the awkward and hilarious love child of Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse.
Idiotsitter is everything Comedy Central does right with their lineup. It is another female-led and female-starring show with Bell and Newhouse playing adult-sitter and spoiled brat under house arrest.
I have to give mention here to the pilot. Instead of continuing from where the web series left off, the show rebooted the run entirely and gave fans even more to love. In the opening scene we see Bell, as Gene, on a horse tapping on a police officer’s window with a bottle of whiskey soliciting sex—which, we are to assume, is how she ends up under house arrest.
It sets the tone perfectly for everything to come and Bell and Newhouse are great at being over-the-top ridiculous and not apologizing at all for it. Keep on keeping on, ladies.
The writers on this list are important not only for being amazingly talented female writers to watch out for, but for the unique sensibility of what they create. They’re not just females who happen to write for television, they are female writers who are carving out a place for women in television.
Their shows are smart, funny, witty, eccentric, and extremely on point when it comes to talking about what it’s like to be a woman and be talented and funny. And on top of that, in such a way that it is entertaining to everyone. These ladies are about to really change comedy, stay tuned!