Editor’s Note: We’re diving into best comedies currently on television this week. To see all of our coverage from Den of Geek’s Comedy Week, click here.
Comedy used to be a man’s game, and is sometimes still considered as such. The stand-up industry in particular consisted of mostly male lineups. And even now when female comedians (like the ones to come on this list) are making a huge leap forward with way more comedy specials and series coming to air, there are still more male comedians in the industry. Because of the long tradition, sometimes people still have issues with female comedians. They are too vulgar, not pretty enough to be on television. Are they good enough? Can women really be as funny as men? Critiquing everything from the way they speak to the way they look.
The female-driven comedy series currently on television showcase great female writers, comedians, producers, and directors who don’t back down, don’t apologize for their brand of wit, and definitely don’t take no for an answer.
In the last few years we’ve seen a trend of female-driven comedies making a rise in television and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Here is a list of current television comedy series with female writers, directors, and feature roles…
Broad City (Comedy Central)
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson have created a comedic masterpiece of pot-hazed failure-to-launch porn. Birthed from the web series by the same name Glazer and Jacobson, with the help of Amy Poehler, took Broad City from the pits of YouTube to the easy streets of Comedy Central.
The series follows two Jewish Brooklyn-based twenty somethings, Ilana Wexler and Abbi Abrams, stumbling through life in New York City. Ilana is a hippie vixen with zero work ethic and a fetish for troublemaking and Abbi is an aspiring artist who is a bit calmer version of her sexually-driven counterpart but equally as spunky in her on right.
Glazer and Jacobson are not only hilarious but also unapologetic. They are crude, and truthful, and best of all their characters show no signs of feeling sorry for their shortcomings. There are no female tropes whatsoever, how refreshing? They don’t care about boyfriends, they smoke pot, steal soap from gyms, walk around St. Mark’s in “Challah Back” tees and wigs. They are the new generation of twenty-something women that are making failure look oh so appealing.
Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
There hasn’t been this much buzz about a female in comedy since Robin Williams put on a dress and became Mrs. Doubtfire. In other words, a female comic has never gotten this much recognition, applause, or attention.
The Atlantic called Schumer “A gem among Comedy Central’s lineup.” And Comedy Central features everyone from Jon Stewart to. Comedy Central has always been very male-orientated and Schumer’s show – a sketch show with a blend of her stand-up and interviews—changed that by outranking most of the other comedies on the network, such as The Jeselnik Offensive and even Nick Kroll’s The Kroll Show, at the time of its premiere.
On top of the comedic brilliance of Inside Amy Schumer, it is also culturally relevant. Schumer has become a feminist icon of the generation. Not the type we’d expect, but definitely the type I want. Inside Amy Schumer’s current season, it’s third, has been extremely focused on cultural commentary and feminist leaning. In the season’s premiere episode “Last Fuckable Day,” Amy Schumer, playing herself, is jogging in the park and runs into Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette having brunch to celebrate their “last fuckable day,” the day when women in Hollywood are deemed no longer fuckable. A poignant commentary on ageism among women, solely, in show business.
A perfect neatly wrapped gift of comedy, feminism, and cultural commentary: the Schumer brand.
Girls is a quirky comedy (with a hint of drama) that follows twenty-something females living in New York City and trying to make their way through the hardships of career, passion, love, and friendship.
Each time someone asks me about Girls I struggle for a response. It usually comes out as some mumble consisting of “Uhm…it might be the worst. But sometimes not. Seldom entertaining, but intriguing.”
I think the majority lends itself to we all hate to love Lena Dunham. Girls premiered on HBO in 2012 when Dunham was just 25-years-old. By then she had already written and directed two other films, Creative Nonfiction and Tiny Furniture becoming the envy of young funny female writers everywhere.
We fuss over everything Dunham. It’s become kind of like pastime to critique her every move. Somewhere out there is a lonely blogger with a list of every person Dunham’s dog ever bit, every kiss she ever gave, and every donut she put in her mouth.
My biggest problem with Girls is Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath. Loosely based on Dunham herself, Hannah is agreeably annoying, self-centered, inconsiderate, and lets not forget constantly naked for seemingly no reason at all.
However, Dunham doesn’t apologize (even though some may want her to) for her creative choices. She’s a young woman writing, directing, producing, and starring in her own television show and on her terms. So whether we love her or hate her, that’s cause for applause.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
The lovely Fey is back with what can only be described as the as the second cousin of 30 Rock dressed in a “Girl Power” t-shirt.
A sitcom about a girl kept in a bunker for fifteen years by a cult leader played by Jon Hamm? Yes please! Not only do we get some more of Fey’s comedic prowess, but also get to reminisce on the good old turn of the millennium. It’s the adult version of a Disney Channel Show and Ellie Kemper is perfection in the role of Kimmy Schmidt.
My bias towards Jon Hamm is in no way responsible for how hard I laughed during the last few episodes of the show when Hamm guest stars as the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the person responsible for keeping Kemper’s character and the other mole girls in the bunker.
Kimmy hasn’t made it past the eighth grade so she’s still stuck on boy bands and The Breakfast Club. And we get to watch her navigate employment, single-living, and more importantly dating and sex. It’s pretty genius and makes me feel nostalgic for my days of lip smackers and scrunchies.
The best part about the show, which is clearly intentional, is how female-centric it is. Of course Kimmy is this do-it-yourself type of girl and that has a feminist twinge, but also where are all the men? There are basically no male characters that make a presence in the show. The only recurring male is Titus. Other than that we have Dong who appears sporadically. Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne doesn’t make an appearance until the end. Jacqueline Voorhees’, Kimmy’s boss played by Jane Krakowski, might have been a recurring character but never makes an appearance in the show. It quite brilliant on the part of Fey to have a show not only starring a female lead but filled with female characters.
The Mindy Project (Fox / Hulu)
Mindy Kaling is one of my female-power gods, so I am biased. Out of all the shows listed so far The Mindy Project is probably the most conventional because it is almost purely a sitcom. But I have no problem with that.
We know Mindy Kaling from her days writing on The Office and playing the often-annoying Kelly Kapour. Mindy Lahiri, Kaling’s character on the show, is like the smarter more successful version of Kelly Kapour. Still with the same sort of pulse on the world of celebrities and E! True Hollywood stories but this time with an M.D. attached to her name.
Kaling recently did an American Express commercial where she said that everyone told her they’d never put a girl that looks like her on television. In her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?(And Other Concerns) Kaling writes that in her first rendezvous with comedy television the network that picked it up her show replaced she and her co-creator with two model-type actresses who weren’t at all funny and the show never made it to air.
But now, Kaling is the creator, producer, star, and writer of a prime-time show. And yes it’s been canceled by Fox, but Mindy posted a picture on Instagram confirming that the next season of The Mindy Project will broadcast on Hulu, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment. Kaling is definitely a comedy powerhouse to watch out for.
Idiotsitter (Comedy Central)
Idiotsitter is a Comedy Central web series that will premier on television in 2016. The show was created by and stars Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse. Newhouse plays a girl named Billie, thinks she will be a nanny to some rich kid, ends up being hired to watch a rich woman name Gene, played by Bell, who is under house-arrest.
Bell and Newhouse aren’t big names, just yet, but based on their web series and watching how well Broad City transitioned from web to screen, I am sure they will be. Currently, Bell as a recurring role on another Comedy central show, Workaholics. Newhouse too has made quite a lot of television appearances including The Big Bang Theory and Community.
I can’t wait to see what happens next with Idiotsitter. Like Broad City, I expect the show to keep to its roots of this quirky sort of comedy. In a show like this it’s hard to say anything about where the characters will go, since growth and progression, and arcs aren’t really a “thing” but it might be interesting to see Gene and Billie outside an employer employee relationship for a little. Idiotsitter also has TJ Miller in the cast, so I’d like to see them bring some more comedy guest stars. Personally, I want to see some Kumail Nanjiani or Moshe Kasher. So if you’re reading this…
Another Period (Comedy Central)
Another Period premiered on Comedy Central in June. Created by comedians Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, Another Period is a period sitcom following the lives of the Bellacourts in Newport, Rhode Island. Picture Downton Abbey meets Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Linhome is half of the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates, which has a short run on Comedy Central as well. She will play Beatrice Bellacourt. Leggero, Lillian Bellacourt, is a longtime comedian who frequents Chelsea Lately as well as other comedy series and the hilarious Comedy Central Roast of James Franco.
Being a huge fan of Lindhome in her Gafunkel and Oates duo, I was skeptical about her breaking away from it. But all that is settled, because Another Period is, well, brilliant. Lindhome and Leggero are a bright duo of dim-witted aristocratic snobbery and alcoholism. I mean, how could you not love a show that has Helen Keller doing cocaine in its pilot episode?
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