Happy Women’s History Month, International Day of the Woman AND Grok Nation relaunch day! In honor of all the women who bring comedy into the world, here’s a partial list of great TV shows helmed by and featuring women! Binge on, good people!
UnReal: What’s it like to be on staff at a reality dating competition? Sarah Gertrude Rose Shapiro experienced it on staff at The Bachelor, and turned that awful experience into this entertaining comedy for Lifetime. (Her co-pilot on the show was veteran writer Marti Noxon, who’s now co-creating the new TV series Dietland with that book’s author Sarai Walker – scroll to the end for a teaser look at the show, due in June.) Season three has just started, so there’s some good catching up to do with Shiri Appleby (playing producer Rachel Goldberg, who struggles with mental health issues) and Constance Zimmer (Quinn). Using their feminist power and their morally-challenged producing decisions, they unapologetically take aim at Hollywood’s patriarchy, rejecting the limitations that male network executives and producers use to try to block their success, or – more often – take credit for their success.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: You’re well-aware of our love for this unique, hilarious, socially aware musical dramedy that also has done great work in portraying mental health issues and recovery. You know we love Rachel Bloom, the show’s co-creator, for her inventive, sassy speaking out – and singing out – of truths both intellectually known and emotionally felt. You may not know that her co-creator is Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, We Bought a Zoo). But we can’t love this CW show – and its supporting female characters, all of them in their own ways standouts – more. See them in action here, as the ladies decide to generalize about men, in the extreme.
Better Things: This underseen FX show finally gives Pamela Adlon (Californication) the starring vehicle I’ve been waiting for her to have. Adlon plays a single mom of three who is doing the best she can to manage them, her irresponsible ex, and her invasive mother who lives next door. While I loved the first season, the second season goes deeper and darker as we feel her pain and awkwardness going through her life. (Special shoutouts to the “No, Jeff!” episode and another episode in which Sam’s kids stage a mock funeral for her.) True, the show was shepherded into fruition by Louis C.K. before “the news” hit, but luckily, this original has been renewed for another season so we can continue peering into Sam’s unapologetic and perfectly imperfect life.
Playing House: You got knocked up by someone who isn’t worthy of you and your best friend has moved back to your mutual hometown to have the baby with you – who couldn’t relate? In many ways this is the dream/escape clause: let’s just give up on relationships and move in with our best friends and have babies together because it will be so much easier. While it’s not always easy for Emma and Maggie, the two besties played by longtime comedy partners Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham (who also created the show), it is definitely funny. And having Keegan Michael Key along for the ride as comedy cop man candy and Zach Woods as Maggie’s brother means this is basically my fantasy land. The show ended after three seasons of laughter and tears but is still available on-demand from USA.
I’m Sorry: Andrea Savage (VEEP, Episodes, Significant Others) created and is the core of this amusing take on balancing motherhood with comedy writing: Andrea does things that she thinks are funny or smart parenting and which always backfire in an explosion of awkwardness. Tom Everett Scott is perfect as the straight-laced straight man to his funny wife, and Jason Mantzoukas is delightfully weird as Andrea’s writing partner/Peter Pan man who refuses to behave like the adult Andrea has to be. Best episodes include “Racist Daughter” and “Butt Bumpers” (this one co-stars The Big Bang Theory‘s John Ross Bowie). (Disclaimer/proud sister note: My brother is a producer on this show, which airs on TruTV.)
Another Period: This Comedy Central show features your favorite comedy actors (Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, who also wrote and executive produced, Christina Hendricks, Paget Brewster, David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Moshe Kasher and others) taking on race, sex, class, feminism and more in very raunchy and politically incorrect ways. And the wacky framework for this comedy is a mashup of Real Housewives-style reality drama imagined as a Downton Abbey-style period piece with spoiled sisters (Leggero and Lindhome) as the central characters. In a recurring gag, homely oldest sister Hortense is played by a series of actresses (Lauren Ash, Lauren Flans, and most recently, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Donna Lynne Champlin).
SCROLLING BONUS! Here’s a first look at Dietland.