Call it the Bridesmaids syndrome: The obvious, but long-overdue recognition that not only can women be a mix of funny and smart and brazen and daring, but people are very much interested in seeing women like that in their entertainment.
Perhaps that explains the recent trend on the small screen that’s allowing some of today’s biggest female comedians a chance to share their humor with the masses. As we reported earlier today, Sarah Silverman, whose last show was the subversive The Sarah Silverman Program that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons, has landed her own sitcom on NBC. The currently untitled program will take a page from the book of Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm in that it will mirror the comedienne’s personal life. In Silverman’s case, the series will follow her chapter in life as a woman who just broke out of a long relationship (Would it be uncouth to suggest Matt Damon play this part? Sorry, Jimmy!)
The Silverman news comes on the heels (or flats, even) of NBC turning funny lady/talk show host Chelsea Handler’s escapades from her best-seller Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea into a multi-camera comedy. Handler will executive produce the series, which will follow a group of 20-somethings who live and work together with a very wild and outspoken woman. (Guess who?!) The network is also a few weeks away from premiering comedienne Whitney Cummings’ transition from Comedy Central Roast-er to leading lady with her show named, simply enough, Whitney.
While there’s certainly no shortage of painfully funny women with leading roles on television (Tina Fey on 30 Rock and Mary-Louise Parker on Weeds spring to mind, but those shows are, at their cores, ensemble pieces), it looks as though series centered solely around a funny female are making quite the comeback. With Silverman, Cummings, and Handler leading the trend on NBC, will other networks follow suit? (Some have already added to the trend: See CBS’ 2 Broke Girls.)
It’s interesting: It’s safe to say that all three of those women deliver a specific kind of humor that doesn’t seem like it would appeal to all TV audiences — especially demographics that tune into network TV. But that hasn’t prevented women from succeeding in the past: Roseanne Barr (who is planning on making her own comeback) and Ellen DeGeneres’ stand-up routines may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but both women were smart, creative, and — most importantly — sitcom savvy. In turn, they created two of the move beloved female-led shows in television history without alienating their fan bases. If Silverman, Cummings, and Handler (who has already found success on cable with her hit talk show Chelsea Lately) can pull it off, pretty soon we could expect every night on TV to be ladies’ night.
What do you think of the trend of funny leading ladies on television, PopWatchers? Will Silverman and Cummings show lead the way for sitcoms? Were you fans before these shows or are you willing to give them a shot on network television? Share in the comments section below!