The Top 12 Female-Led Comedies in TV History (TMA Cross-Post)
Will Whitney, Chelsea and Sarah Measure Up to These 12 Top Female-Led Comedies in TV History? Who will save network television?
The spotlight has been white hot on a slew of upcoming female-driven network selections hoping to tickle your funny bone (and rack up some serious ratings). On the heels of a strong run for the female-driven comedy movie, “Bridesmaids” and the television industry still struggling to adjust to an internet-world, cue the female-led tv comedies to save the day.
Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler are premiering their new sit-coms on NBC this September (“Whitney” and “Are You There, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea”). Besides her eponymous show, Whitney is also the Executive Producer of “Two Broke Girls,” a comedy premiering on CBS in the fall. And just this week, we hear news that NBC is picking up a Sarah Silverman comedy!
This industry attention on the potential for female-driven comedies is ironic given the cold hard facts. Statistics recently released by the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film show :
Less than 1 in 5 of all television shows of the recent season were created by a woman. In the season that just ended, only 25% of women hold key off-camera jobs (creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography), down from 27% from the previous season.
The percentage of female title credit writers also tumbled, down from 29% in the previous television season to 15%. Beyond getting the ratings and the ladies getting their chance at the spotlight, will they rank up there in hilarity in the annals of female-led television comedy history? Who could possibly be the Betty White of 2051?
Here’s a by no means complete rundown of some of the classics in no particular order.
12. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
This classic black and white tv sitcom features the life of housewife, Lucy, and her fiery Cuban bandleader husband. Let the hilarity ensue.
11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977)
Mary Tyler Moore breaks ground as a 30-something single career woman making her way in the world.
10. The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
The geriatric-set got their own sharp comedy full of quirky characters that even the young’uns could appreciate. This group of retired ladies live together in Miami and let us in on their senior misadventures.
9. Gimme a Break! (1981-1987)
Nell Carter plays a sassy housekeeper for a retired police thief and his family. Issues of class and race come up inevitably and showcasing Nell’s impeccable comedic timing and sometimes her singing chops. And how can you say no to the TV show that first brought us Joey Lawrence (“Woh!”)?
8. Roseanne (1988-1997)
Before you knew her as a macadamia nut farmer, she was just plain nutty. Blue-collar housewife life never got any funnier with Roseanne at the helm as the show’s star, creator and head writer.
7. Murphy Brown (1988-1998)
Candice Bergen doles out the dry humor and plays a sarcastic and driven tv journalist and news anchor with this workplace comedy that lasted a solid ten years.
6. Facts of Life (1979-1988)
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have…the title of this show. This show pitched strong and varied characters in this prestigious all-female boarding school setting. Edna the housemother got to regulate it all.
5. Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Ah. The life and loves of young lawyers in a Boston law firm who share a co-ed bathroom. How can we forget the show that brought us the weird CGI dancing baby, and Lucy Liu? Thank you, David E. Kelley and Calista Flockhart.
4. Sex and the City (1998-2004)
This show was a cultural zeitgeist, or at least a zeitgeist of those who were of or aspired to the the Manhattan, LeBoutin-wearing, upper class career women set. To this day, women refer to relationship and dating conversations that Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her girlfriends discussed over brunch. Where else will we find a conversation about depressed vaginas?
3. Girlfriends (2000-2008)
If the all-white cast of “Sex and the City” doesn’t quite connect with you, you’ve still got yoru “Girlfriends.” Four women, Toni (Jill Marie Jones), Maya (Golden Brooks), Lynn (Persia White), and Joan (Tracee Ross), find comedy in their professional and romantic lives. It became the longest-running live-action sitcom on network television.
2. Ellen (1994-1998)
She was nice, friendly, and funny! And yes, she was gay. All of America who watched this popular network could finally say they actually sorta knew SOMEone who was gay after Ellen came out and public with her sexuality. Ellen DeGeneres was a neurotic bookstore owner who had an eclectic band of friends and customers who made perfect fodder for comedy.
1. 30 Rock (2006-present)
Liz Lemon, played by Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey, would really just love to sit down and eat a really great sandwich. Her religion is “pretty much whatever Oprah tells [her]“. On reality tv: “If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t keep people with no shame down.” The wacky situations come from her head writing job in this fictitious NBC sketch comedy show. Jam-packed with jokes per minute, this Sarah-Palin look-a-like continues to give America more Lemon-isms.
Incremental gains and incremental losses. It’s hard not to be cynical. Especially when I don’t consider TV a revolutionary space for feminist progress. :-P
The numbers suck. The statistics released this week by Martha Lauzen at the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film (and I say again thank goddess for her that we even have statistics) show that women have REGRESSED behind the scenes in writing gigs.
In the season that just ended women held 25% of all jobs behind the scenes on TV. Here are the jobs tracked: creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography. That is down from 27% the previous season.
Now the number that is staggering is the number of women writers. That plummeted from 29% to 15%. That stat is the number of women whose names appear as the writer of an episode. (A random episode of every drama and sitcoms from the major networks were assessed for this stat.) That is not the number of female writers on the staff. In TV writers come in at different levels. The lowest level is staff writer and the highest level is executive producer. There are several levels in between.
And the stats show that “84% of the programs employed no women writers” which means that 84% of the randomly selected episodes that were used for this evaluation had no female name on them at all. Shameful.
Another stat worth lamenting - women created only 18% of the shows. That means less than 1 in 5 of the shows you watch have a woman creator.
• Women hire women: Shows with female creators have more female characters
• Directing on TV is just as bad as directing in films: women made up 11% of all directors, down 5 points from a year ago.
• The CW has the most female characters with 52% and NBC has the least with 36%
• 43% of all major characters on TV shows were women - sitcoms has the least female characters and reality TV the most.
• Women are younger than men on TV shows.
• Most women on TV are white
• Viewers are less likely to know about a woman’s job than a man’s.
“Quiet Asian kid.” Someone called me that while I was in university in Canada. I hate that term, that stereotype. I am introverted, yes. I am Asian, of Chinese descent, yes. But must one necessarily follow the other?
I like this.
I consider myself an introvert, but I can be really confrontational (evidence: loudly calling a young, tall, drunk white kid in a crowded elevator in New York City a racist, in front of all his friends). I think part of it has to do with my mom (never one to not speak up about bad customer service) and my dad (who had come to the US from rural China at the age of 11) regularly encouraging me: “Don’t be a typical Chinese! Speak up!”
So yes, he encouraged me by both enforcing stereotypes and convincing me to break them!
I think if you are Asian and you happen to be quiet, people may attribute it to the culture of your upbringing. A quiet white kid is just a kid who is quiet. And white. A quiet black kid is just a kid who is quiet. And black. But a quiet Asian kid is The Quiet Asian Kid. It just plays well into stereotypes.
Ann, or A’misa her artistic alter ego, credits Enid from the graphic novel Ghost World as the high school role model that launched her evolution into an art-committed life. One session of blue hair dye and a pair of combat boots later, Ann officially staked her claim on an independent high school identity. Who knew that deep down inside this Japanese American, South Bay Los Angeles native was really a young angsty jewish girl?…[ORIGINAL POST HERE]
This one comes from the “I Feel You, Man” files. People say some stupid, racist sh*t to me when I’m on stage doing jokes. At a recent Los Angeles show at Largo a stupid audience member decided to share their racism with Aziz.
Appearing as a last-minute guest during comedian Tig Notaro’s show at the Largo at the Coronet, Ansari began taking questions from the crowd when a woman queried, “Why don’t you have a red dot on your forehead?”
While the audience gasped, a shocked Ansari replied by asking why she didn’t have the word “c— on her forehead.” Then he remarked about how there are still “racist” people in the world.
So stupid. The C-word is not my favorite take-down. In this case, it may have been warranted.
Black Teen from Oakland Sings Chinese Opera! [Video]
Oh yeah. While I squirm when I meet white people with too much love for Chinese culture, I get extra excited when I hear about Black people loving Chinese culture. Why? It’s unexpected!
It’s sorta like how I feel when I cruise the aisles of my family’s favorite Chinese grocery store in Gardena, Ranch 99, and I see an uncertain Black lady eyeing the tofu selection. I am downright giddy. I have to reign back my impulse to start an impromptu tour with her on all the delicious ways she can enjoy a baked tofu loaf.
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it’s okay to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading.”—Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden. (via arayboraie)