Women Are FunnyPosted: October 12, 2011
Women actresses and writers in comedy and how too much power can be bad.
By Bryan Berlin
Throughout history, there have always been people who said women couldn’t do certain things. Vote. Anchor the news. Impregnate other women. Okay maybe that last one actually can’t happen…yet. One other thing women have always been given a hard time about is comedy. Women aren’t funny. They can’t do stand up. Etc. Etc.
However, a new breed of superwomen has come along lately and completely changed that. Well maybe they’re not superwomen; they’re just finally getting the opportunity to show their comedic prowess. Yes, there was Roseanne and Fran Drescher back in the day, but that was a totally different time. That and each of those actors played an over the top caricature to get laughs (using literally, Fran Dreschers laugh/voice).
Now, the new cast of women has taken to the screen. It began with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig. All getting their starts at SNL, each has branched out to bigger and better things. Tina Fey was the first to pave her own path, creating, starring in, and writing for 30 Rock. Next came Amy Poehler, who went on to star in Parks and Recreation (and has even written two episodes). Finally came Wiig. Although she’s still at SNL, she’s branched out to movies. Her biggest success came with Bridesmaids, the comedy hit of the summer that she both co-wrote and starred in.
The three were the generation who opened up comedy for women. Now, female-centric comedies are popping up all over the place. Most notably, New Girl, Two Broke Girls, and Whitney. Each one of them premiered this year, and they were all picked up for a full season order in the last week. Not only does each show feature a female lead (or two, in the case of Broke Girls), but each show was created or co-created by a female. This is great news, right? Go women!
Wrong. My problem here lies with Whitney Cummings. Cummings is the creator and star of Whitney, and the co-creator of Two Broke Girls. Both shows just got picked up for full season orders. At some point, she’s going to have to make a decision about what show she is going to commit to, while she has an exec producer take over on the other. There’s nothing wrong with that. It happens all the time. Creators want to get involved in their next big project and pass the show on. JJ Abrams did it with Lost. She’s going to pick Whitney. Yes she’s the sole creator of it, but she also stars in it. It’s her baby.
Here’s the problem: Whitney’s not good. I think Whitney Cummings does a decent job starring in it, but the content is just not there. The pilot had some okay jokes and sequences, but what really bothered me was the second episode. The episode took a joke that probably should have lasted a scene (an established couple goes on a ‘first date’ again), but then stretches that story over the whole episode. The date doesn’t go well, so each person is trying to figure out when to call and how to make the other person jealous. The whole joke was just really overplayed and forced.
On the flip side, Two Broke Girls isn’t terrible. Yes, Kat Dennings reactions are a little over the top sometimes, but it is a good “classic sitcom” style show that has a little bit of heart in it. After watching the first few episodes of each show, it’s clear that Two Broke Girls has a lot more promise. Yes Whitney, you are funny, and you’re living in a time where people accept women as funny, but don’t let that humor get to your head and make some bad shows in the process.