These eight dynamic women use their comedy platforms to tackle womens’ issues in our culture today. Comedy requires courage; comedians have to be willing to take a stand, and at the same time make fun of our shared human weaknesses. They bring out our vanity, and hypocrisy, and alternatively our capacity for forgiveness and redemption, thereby serving a very important function in our society.
Parks and Recreation follows the life of Leslie Knope, played by comedy icon Amy Poehler. Leslie Knope is a lovable but goofy public official in the parks and recreation department of the small fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, who has an passion for helping her hometown. The characters are eccentric and the town equally idiosyncratic. This warmhearted and clever comedy was beloved by fans and critics, garnering 127 award nominations and win-ning 22 awards, including a Golden Globe. Poehler, who also served as a producer during the show’s seven seasons, received five Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt features a young woman with an unconventional history. Schmidt, played by the talented Ellie Kemper, escapes after 15 years in a doomsday cult, at the age of 29, and chooses to start a new life in New York City. She befriends Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) who becomes her landlady, and moves into a small apartment with struggling actor Titus An-dromedon (Tituss Burgess), then gets a job as a nanny with wealthy socialite, Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski), who all teach her how to survive and thrive in a city that is incalculably foreign to her. Created by SNL veterans Robert Carlock and Tina Fey, this comedy is replete with quick wit and colorful characters. With its highly original premise, a brilliant cast, and killer theme song, the show was able to surpass political drama House of Cards in viewership. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix series, has run for two seasons and was renewed for a third, which is expected to be released next summer.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame stars in and produces this HBO political satire. Veep takes place in the fictional U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer’s office. The show follows Meyer (played by Louis-Dreyfus) and her company aides as they navigate the political climate of Washington, D.C. For five consecutive years Louis-Dreyfus has won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and for two consecutive years the show has won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Showrunner David Mandel explains the challenges he faces writing political satire in this election year, in an interview for Deadline this September, “I find every level of this campaign to be horrific, and it makes comedy way tougher. It’s just so hard when people don’t want to laugh about this type of stuff.” He does, however, promise laughs and some shocking twists in Meyer’s life for the show’s upcoming sixth season. You can stream all episodes of Veep on the HBO Go app.
Amy Schumer’s comedic success began to take off when she made the finals in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”, placing fourth. She made a name for herself showcasing her satirical and dis-tinctly raunchy humor in numerous comedy venues, until 2013, when Schumer was granted her own television series on Comedy Central, called Inside Amy Schumer. Now in its fourth season, Inside Amy Schumer, produced, co-written and starred in by Schumer, tackles topical feminist and social issues such as date rape, or misogyny. She offers her audience an intimate view of her own hubris, insecurities, and misjudgements. In her interview for Vogue Magazine in June of this year she said, “I have this innate need to say things that I think are important for people to hear, and I can’t stand injustice, so even if it makes people uncomfortable, I’m not afraid enough of conflict to keep my mouth shut.” Over the past 3 years, she and her show have been nominated for numerous awards, and won several, including an Emmy, a Peabody, a Writers Guild of America award and Critics’ Choice Association awards. This year, Schumer is the first woman to be listed on the Forbes list of highest paid comedians. Watch Inside Amy Schumer on Hulu or the Comedy Central App.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer began their show Broad City as independent producers of a web series. They were discovered and coached by SNL veteran Amy Poehler, and in 2014, Comedy Central picked up the sitcom. The show’s third season featured a star studded list of celebrity cameos including actress Whoopi Goldberg, NBA star Blake Griffin, and even Presidential hope-ful Hillary Clinton. In 2015 interview for Grantland, Jacobson said about their show: “I know this is, like, really abstract or whatever, but my favorite teacher once said that the painting isn’t the art, but the art is the space between the viewer and the painting. So when we make the show, we are always talking about how the show is really in between what we make and what the viewer thinks of it.” The show has amassed over 450,000 Facebook fans and was recently renewed for a fourth and fifth season. Expect to see bong hits, sexual fluidity, and plenty of trips to Bed, Bath, & Beyond. You can watch the first three seasons of Broad City now on the Comedy Central app.
Lena Dunham is the writer, director and star of the television series, Girls, which focuses on the lives of four women living in New York City during their early twenties. It first aired on HBO in 2012. Most of the stories are drawn from creator Lena Dunham’s real life experiences. The first season starts with Hannah, Dunham’s character, who is an aspiring writer being told that she will no longer be financially supported by her parents. We follow Hannah and her friends as they navigate odd jobs, casual sex, and complicated relationships. The New York Times Magazine said about Lena Dunham’s success, “It’s entirely possible that she’s an icon precisely because she doesn’t speak for anyone else, because she has the exceedingly rare ability to be 100 percent herself, 100 percent of the time — or at least to come off that way.” The sixth and final season of Girls will air in 2017. Girls has been nominated for numerous awards, and their wins include two Primetime Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Peabody, and a Director’s Guild Award.
Samantha Bee earned her stripes amongst news satire talk show greats like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Bee worked on The Daily Show as a correspondent for twelve years. Although she wasn’t in the running to succeed Jon Stewart as the new host, Bee was able to secure her own slot on TBS, becoming the first woman ever to host a late-night talk show, which premiered April 8, 2016. On hiring writers for the show, Bee told Rolling Stone in June, "I have literally filled my office with people who have been underestimated their entire careers. To a person, we almost all fit into that category. It is so joyful to collect a group of people who nobody has ever thought could grasp the reins of something and go for it." And that strategy has been wildly successful. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee was nominated for an Emmy, and won a Television Critics Association Award. The show has been renewed by TBS into 2017. You can watch full episodes on TBS’ website.