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The term “women aren’t funny,” is something that I’ve heard far too much in my life. Luckily, this theory is constantly disproved by the sheer number of hilarious females in the entertainment industry today. I mean look at SNL—with heavy hitters like Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and Vanessa Bayer leading the charge, it’s hard not to get excited about the future. I think that Tina Fey puts it best when she states that, “it is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good.” Here are some hilarious women making their mark on funny TV shows, without having to fall back into the stale stereotypes that women were confined to play for years and years.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes in Seinfeld
Julia set an example for funny women everywhere with the role she played as Elaine Benes. She did not let the large personalities of Kramer, George, or even Jerry force her to be the boring token female in the friend group that would sigh and say, “oh you boys.” I think the biggest example of this is an episode titled “The Contest” in season 4. The group entered a contest to see who could go the longest without masturbating, but they never actually use the word. Elaine’s competition in this contest broke a very strong barrier because it discussed sex as a commonality between the friends, regardless of their difference in gender. This episode even won Larry David a grammy for writing it.
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Julia’s character developed at the same speed as the rest of the cast in terms of relationships and storyline, and the name Elaine Benes became ingrained in the history of comedy, as Seinfeld continued to grow. Julia continues to contribute to the comedy world with her award-winning show Veep.
Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Similar to the cast of Seinfeld, Dee’s character is the only female in a group consisting of four guys. Early on in the production of It’s Always Sunny, Kaitlin made sure her role in the gang was just as important as the other cast members’, reinforcing that Dee wasn’t the only sane one in a group full of psychos. This decision has proved to be very important to the growth of the show. Dee has developed into an angry, vindictive bird that fits right in with the rest of the delusional male gang members.
One of the best episodes that highlights Dee’s craziness is “The Gang Gets Analyzed” from season 8. Each member is analyzed by a therapist to ultimately see who has to do the dishes, but Dee takes her sessions as an audition, feeding into her idea that she is a skilled actress. It’s been funny to see Dee’s progression as the show enters into its 13th season.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as Abbi and Ilana in Broad City
Broad City is a very important show for ladies in our generation. Written and produced by best friends Abbi and Ilana, it dives into relationships, alcohol, drugs, money, and struggling to make it as 20-something-year-olds who don’t know what they want in life. It’s a different kind of female-centric show because it shows every detail of their lives, regardless of if it’s gross, overtly sexual, or embarrassing. This has allowed a lot of young women to relate to Abbi and Ilana, finding similarities in the contrast between the two friends’ personalities. The show allows women to tune into the different aspects of their personalities, as they are figuring out who they are and what they want to be.
Broad City also discusses sex in a positive and casual way, promoting being open-minded and honest to a generation of confused teenage girls. Broad City is one of the funniest and most popular shows on TV right now. It’s for anyone who wants to create something meaningful out of their own complicated lives.
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ellie Kemper takes on a character that is completely original in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix original produced by the always funny Tina Fey. Kemper’s character is a former mole-woman trying to live a normal life in New York City after being kidnapped for the majority of her life. She is surrounded by a strongly female cast made up of Jane Krakowski, Amy Sedaris, and Carol Kane, each playing drastically different characters.
The Netflix platform allows producers to make seasons very quickly, keeping the commentary relevant to our social and political climate. The show features people of all races, genders, and sexualities, without seeming to do so as a way to win over the younger generations. Kimmy Schmidt is a very kind and caring person, yet witty and entertaining. This role is a jackpot for a female in television and has pushed the creative limits of comedy.
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock
30 Rock is one of the funniest shows I have ever watched. Often lumped in with The Office and Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock is shot from the perspective of behind the scenes at a Saturday Night Live mocked comedy show. Tina Fey, obviously drawing from her own experiences, plays the head writer as well as co-creator and producer of the show. When 30 Rock aired, it wasn’t that popular, but after a while, it gained a cult following among comedy nerds.
Liz Lemon, Tina’s character, plays into a lot of problems that many women face, especially when holding positions of power. She is the perfect amount of self-deprecating and relatable, while still managing to promote lessons of hard work and perseverance to the audience. This show is the perfect balance of intelligence and immaturity, just like the rest of Fey’s material. She is also supported by a lot of other hilarious people like Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski.