Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Women in Comedy Part II: Acting, Directing, Writing, Creating, Producing!

This past Saturday night Lena Dunham became the first winner of the Director's Guild of America (DGA) Award in the television comedy category.  Dunham won the DGA for the episode entitled "Pilot" or the first episode of the show Girls.  While women have won this category in the drama category, most of the recent wins have come in the most recent years.  One of the most recent wins was Patty Jenkins winning for the first episode of the television series The Killing.

Over the last decade female characters in television series both comedy and drama have become more and more interesting and dynamic.  One of the main reasons for these dynamic women in television is mainly because there are more women behind the scenes as creators, directors, writers, and producers.  In the drama world Shonda Rhimes is the best example working, with shows like Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal centered all on female leads.  Yet the women of comedy have grown the most, and in larger numbers.

I would say that Tina Fey was at the start of this trend in the world of television comedy.  Fey an SNL alum created a small, but critically acclaimed television series about Liz Lemon who works on an NBC Variety Show named TGS. Sound familiar?  Fey's television series, 30 Rock, was not a monster hit in the ratings, but the show had an impact in many ways.  Fey started this trend where she not only starred in the show, but she created the show, produced the show, and wrote for 30 Rock.  Fey's Liz Lemon does feels as though she is a genuine creation of her own make; she is Tina Fey.  I always think of 30 Rock as the modern day Mary Tyler Moore Show, but Mary Richards was written and created by a woman now.

Fey influenced gal pal Amy Poehler in her next step after SNL, Poehler is stars in Parks and Recreation, and writes many of the episodes for the show.  I believe that New Girl would be something different without creator/producer Liz Meriweather behind the scenes.  The combination of Deschanel and Meriwather makes Jess an even more interesting layered, and of course quirky character.  Mindy Kailing who was a producer and writer for The Office has her own show now as well, where stars produces, and writes.  While The Mindy Project is still finding its footing the series feels right out of the mind of the star herself, and Mindy's adventures make sense because they are a creation of her own doing.

Then there is today's "modern" girl who has brought women even further to the forefront in television, Lena Dunham. Dunham's Girls is a show where you may not like the characters, you may not think its funny, but boy does it have a strong power.  While I think its one of the funniest shows on television Girls sharply points out the harsh realities of generations inability to cope, struggle, but they know how to have fun, and believe that life should be this amazing adventure.  Dunham has created four spectacularly different female characters that bring out all of these elements.  Dunham is a is genius, and  week after week she creates an evolutionary pattern for women working in television.

If you look at each of these women they star(ed) in some of the funniest shows of the last ten years, and have laid the groundwork for the future of television to continue to evolve, and create incredible female characters.  They have also started this great trend of letting women have more power over their own voice, and establish precedent for future generations to come.  These women are trailblazers in the world of television, and the work they do helps further the art of television.

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