English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Comedy

Kimmy Schmidt: Why it all Works

Kimmy Schmidt is a fictional plot about one girl who was kidnapped by a reverend when she was only 13 years of age, kept in a underground bunker for 15 years convinced that there was no life above her and that everything she previously knew and loved had perished in an apocalypse. She then is found and rescued by the U.S. government at the age of 28 and must live without any source of viable income in the cutthroat city of New York, where she is constantly deceived by others who try to con her money or make her do sexual favors.  All the while she must remain a strong witness and figure in convicting her cynical kidnapper. This is a very dark plot that could be the plot to a high intensity, multi season drama series, but this is the polar opposite of dark and dramatic.. I may not even be too bold to claim that Kimmy Schmidt: Unbreakable may be the funniest thing I have ever watched. But how does a show with such a dark premise create such a comedic tone… well I’ll tell you.

The most prominent aspect of the comedy within the show is the delivery of lines. This show has many different comedic aspects within it but the one portion that really makes the audience hurl over from laughter is the deadpan delivery of nonsensical dialogue.  For those unaware, deadpan is a mechanism of comedy in which one person says or does something funny during a scene and no character on screen laughs or reacts at all to the action, acting like it is completely normal.  This contributes because this series thrives off of nonsense even in the most intense moments of the show, and when witty, nonsense is spewed back and forth between characters of the show in very intense moments, you just can’t help but laugh as an audience member.

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Quote from Kimmy Schmidt

Another aspect that contributes to the comedic tone of the show is the pop culture references and the very modern material that is portrayed.  Kimmy was born in the mid 1980s as previously stated, so naturally there are many 90s pop culture references as well as the current day references that often times are completely nonsensical because Kimmy was only a child during the 90s and still technically has the cultural awareness of a child as she has just been released from a barren bunker separated from the outside world.  This allows for Kimmy (and less often her supporting characters) to make inappropriate, and often nonsensical but comical, comments that are also hilariously delivered through deadpan dialogue about pop culture.

Though there are many factors that contribute to the comedy within the very intense plot line of the series meshing well, I firmly believe that the deadpan delivery of dialogue and the frequent culture references are key to the comedy that has allowed Kimmy Schmidt.

Peace out Blog Posts.

The Most Imperfect Romantic Comedy

Something that really resonated with me within our discussion of Jane the Virgin was the idea of the romantic comedy and how it defines the show, creates and alienates an audience, and sets the entire tone of the show. This applies strongly to The Mindy Project where the entire show is centered around Mindy’s search for love and (in her eyes) the perfect life. In the season two finale, “Mindy and Danny”, she finally gets her true love in, as the title suggests, the form of Danny. In true comedic fashion their journey towards each other was hilarious, complete with montages of Mindy crawling up stairs and Danny getting hit by a taxi. And in true romantic fashion, Mindy gets her happily ever after, on top of the Empire State building à la every classic New York romantic movie, even if she is too exhausted from climbing the stairs to stand. She has the perfect partner, great friends, and a wonderful job. Mindy has it all.

Mindy and Danny having their romantic moment on top of the Empire State Building.

This is the cornerstone of the rom-com genre: through trials and tribulations on a journey of self-discovery, it generally (but, as we learned in Jane the Virgin, not always) ends with the women “having it all”. This idealistic idea includes the women being a perfect mother, wife, worker, friend, daughter, and a host of other roles. And while it’s the goal for some, it rarely works without a hitch in real life. This is where The Mindy Project comes in: it’s the imperfect rom-com. Mindy’s an unlikely hero, and even during her perfect ending Danny quips about her becoming a stay-at-home mother, even through her job and her professional ambitions are vital to her sense of self. The show does something unlikely in demonstrating that the heavily anticipated relationship is not perfect, or anywhere relatively close to it. For most stereotypical rom-com heroines, once they find their partner, they abandon their job to focus on working in the home. And it is a completely respectable choice; however, it is not the choice for Mindy.

That what I love about the show: for better or for worse, it demonstrates an unapologetic amount of honesty and candor. As a subset of the rom-com genre, it’s more representative, shows more relationship failures, and genuinely doesn’t shy away from the issues surrounding the modern romance. Mindy is not your classic heroine, in more ways than one, and she doesn’t try to become something that she isn’t. This show flipped the entire genre and its subsequent expectations on their head and completely revamped them. Real life is not like the romance movies and getting more shows with more accurate representations and expectations is vital. The Mindy Project does just that.

It’s all about the MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

I started out my blog posts with a discussion about the cultural difference of the Huang family and modern America. But, diving deeper into this general theme is how money is portrayed in the show.


The Huang family JUST moved from DC to Orlando with basically nothing. While, most comedy shows would focus on dumb events that occur or misfortunes, Fresh off the Boat manages to make real issues into comedy, like the struggle for money.


Each episode has tons of examples specific to the show and overarching money struggles. For example, Eddies ALWAYS wants a new CD, video game, movie, technology, etc. In episode 6, he is set on a new video game. But, his parents do not just fork over the money because they can’t… they are establishing themselves…and barely have necessities like air conditioning… So, Eddie works as “Fajita Boy” at Cattleman’s Ranch because “there are no handouts in the Huang family”. The show manages to make a comedic 11 year old working a job stem from cultural differences and NEED. Eddie’s grandfather had to work hard, therefore Eddie has to work hard. His parents constantly remind him of the struggles his relatives faced trying to succeed fiscally, which keeps the comedy REAL.

Eddie as “Fajita Boy”

The money struggles comes up not only for Eddies (bc all 11 year olds are broke), but for his parents. His mom is looking for a job to help provide because not all families can live on one income. His dad is constantly trying to make Cattleman’s Ranch a successful restaurant (and usually failing). His family keeps the air conditioning off in FLORIDA to save money, like that is TERRIBLE.


Watching comedies focus on real problems makes it easier to get invested in the shows. In Fresh off the Boat, the struggle of money and assimilating and succeeding are displayed and it has made it a great show to watch #peace #out #blog

Movin’ On Up

Broad City’s general brand of humor deals with the relatable yet wacky incidences of daily millennial life, and Abbi and Ilana are perfect portrayals of twenty-somethings trying to get ahead in life. While this brand of comedy accords with the general millennial, season four of Broad City takes a slight turn from wacky to mature. In episode 3 of season 4, titled “Just the Tips,” Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters progress from an innocent, early-20’s mindset to a more mature, late-20’s mindset.

“Just the Tips” reflects the general theme of season 4 in that Abbi and Ilana are not the same wacky, young semi-adults that they once were in earlier seasons. They are maturing into adult women, and they start to attain a sense of stability and maturity that is unlike themselves in earlier seasons. While there still is plenty of craziness that goes on, the protagonists are evidently growing up, and this episode reflects how in real life, people grow up, and they start to make more stable, mature decisions for themselves.

Season 4 of Broad City, spoofing Beyonce’s “Formation” 

In this episode, Ilana is enjoying the fruits of her new high-paying waitress job as she is able to afford daily things that were otherwise luxuries, such as a king-size bed. Abbi, interning at a graphic design firm, is coming to terms with her complicated relationship with Trey, her former boss, and she starts to realize that sex-only flings are not important anymore. While at a party, Abbi and Ilana confront these new lifestyle changes as Abbi is forced to think about her relationship while Ilana is forced to confront Lincoln, her former friends with benefits. Abbi realizes that she needs to invest more time in her well being, and Ilana moves on from the pain of leaving Lincoln as she talks with him face-to-face. Ilana even tells Lincoln that “I[Ilana] am much more mature than when you last saw me.” Both Abbi and Ilana acknowledge what they want, and they start to think for themselves as adults rather than young, innocent millennials. They face their past conflicts head on, and they do not shy away from improving their lives as adults in New York City.

Ilana enjoying her new disposable income

The theme of maturity and growing up in “Just the Tips” relates to the course of Broad City overall because the shift from the earlier seasons to season 4 resembles what happens in real life to most young people. In the earlier seasons, Abbi and Ilana are working dead-end jobs, and they engage in risky endeavors to unsuccessfully better their lives. However, in season 4, Abbi and Ilana are working at stable, worthwhile jobs, and they feel much more content. While there is still plenty of absurdity, Abbi and Ilana are clearly maturing into better versions of themselves. In the end, Broad City takes a more progressing turn as Abbi and Ilana “move on up” in their respective lives.

Ilana and Abbi leaving the party in “Just the Tips”

The Musical Writing of The Mindy Project

Masterfully weaving together elements of comedy and romance without being overtly cliché is a difficult feat. Thankfully, The Mindy Project is stocked with witty, creative writers who are unafraid of leaning into classically complicated tropes to make them fresh and original. One clear example is the season one finale episode “Take Me with You” written by Mindy Kaling and Jeremy Bronson. Both writer’s careers are littered with household names – Mindy from The Office, an off-Broadway play Matt & Ben, and a host of stand-up comedy tours, and Jeremy from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Grandfathered, and Speechless. Outside of television, both wrote for their respective college newspapers (The Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern and the Harvard Lampoon) and Mindy has written two bestselling memoirs.

The fast pace nature of the show is what allows it to follow rom-com tropes without feeling overdone or boring. Specifically, Mindy is shown trying to seem “outdoorsy” on a camping trip to prove she is ready to move to Haiti with her boyfriend. The writing here uses the tent to demonstrate Mindy feeling trapped in her current relationship. The dialogue is quick to respond to the events bothering Mindy – before she is finished politely explaining why the lack of space is suffocating, the next irritation is already executed.

With most of the show’s dialogue being conversational, the lack of dialogue in scenes are notable. However, while there are periods of time when no one is speaking, there is never pure silence. Pivotal moments are emphasized with no dialogue, only music. This was used three times in the season finale. The first moment was Mindy alone, eating cake, overlaid with soft classical music. This returns to the main theme of the show – life will never work flawlessly, even when it externally looks perfect. She seems to have everything – the handsome boyfriend and a strong career, but she still retreats to be alone. This establishes Mindy as the heroine we know and love, as she wants her life to be like a romance novel but is never satisfied with the happily ever after.

The second musical interlude was upbeat pop and a montage of the doctors going into surgery. This reestablishes Mindy as a formidable doctor: while her personal life is reflective of the middle chapter struggle of a romance novel, she is excellent at her job.

Finally, there was the classic running through the streets to profess love trope, this time with music of increasing intensity. Here Mindy reveals she cut her hair off and is ready to change her life and move to Haiti. This scene had the potential to be cliché, but due to the comedy weaved throughout – her unsuccessful first attempts to reach her love and the clothes hangers chucked out the window at Mindy – it felt new. That is what is special about the writing here, the bones of the premise, theme, and scenes are all overdone, but the writing is so original and surprising that it allows everything to flow together perfectly.

Mindy unveiling her new short haircut to Danny.

Works Cited

“Mindy Kaling.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindy_Kaling.

“Jeremy Bronson.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Bronson.

Success as defined by your gender in #FOTB

From the opening scene of episode 4, it was obvious that the show would continue to stick to traditional and exaggerated gender roles that have played out in the prior episodes. The characters’ success is determined differently by their gender.


Let me set up the scene… extended family members (including an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, and a grandma) are visiting the Huang family from D.C. Within the family, it is a constant competition to be more successful than the others.


For Jessica and her sister, the battle is over looks, shopping deals, and mother’s love. These are the ways that the show gives them their value. The reasons for this might be because the show is suppose to be a throwback to the 90s, so they are overemphasizing the progress that has been made in the past two decades. Also, the roles might be cultural. The sisters are battling to be their mother’s favorite and not chasing after careers, which means that cultural loyalty remains at home for the women. While it is amusing to watch the sisters battle over perms, breast size, and discounted prices, the gender roles in the family are restrictive and limiting. The women seems to add nothing to the family except housekeeping and eye-candy…

Jessica and her sister Connie battle over their mother’s favoritism (w/ Jessica rocking the “success perm”)

For the men of the family, Louis and his brother in law (and ex-boss), their success is determined by their career, cars, and  technology. The male characters are expected to have it all; the car, the computer, the successful company, etc. BUT, this is so restrictive, even for a comedy show. It is just another example of a place where female are not shown as succeeding in the workplace and where men are forced to be the sole provider and suporter. This scene makes men look like they have to be superheros and have it all, when realistically they don’t. This family gender role could also be tied to culture of the Huang family, so the roles speak more to the cultural expectations from this time period.


It is super easy to box genders up and make the characters easy to understand. For FOTB, the focus is on comedy and fast-paced plot, not intricate characters. In every show, something is sacrificed in production and through the family reunion scene, it is obvious that Fresh off the Boat doesn’t waste time having dynamic characters that redefine family gender roles.

Fresh Jordan’s… Fresh Writing… Fresh Off the Boat

“Home Sweet, Home School”, the second Episode of Fresh off the Boat, really sets up the way the rest of the show will operate based on the style of the writers. A team of four is responsible for writing this episode, including Kourtney Kang (known for her role as a producer of How I Met Your Mother) and Eddie Huang, the focus of the autobiography and the narrator of the show. I think part of what makes this show so interesting is that Eddie narrates his own past life. He knows exactly how he felt in the moment and how he feels now that he’s grown up. As much insight as this offers, it’s also valid to check ourselves with how much we trust him- I mean he is writing out his life for the world. The combination of he and Kourtney Kang in writing this episode makes for an interesting personality in the writing- with her Emmy nominated comedy writing skills and his life experience it really makes the show a worthwhile watch both as a social commentary and as a chill binge watch.

Image result for hannah montana gif

the best of both worlds ;)

This show is absolutely filled with noise. There is literally never silence. Even when the character to character dialogue isn’t going, there’s Biggie, Stephen King movies, NASCAR races, 90s hip-hop, and restaurant chatter in the back. The amount of constant noise makes the show really full and fun to watch. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EPISODE THREE
My goodness, when Evan did the voice over of the white moms talking at the neighborhood meeting, I laughed harder than I have in a while. Between the hip-hop tracks which emphasize Eddie’s moods, the clapback narrations, and Evan… well, being Evan, this show doesn’t stop with the jokes. The writing of this show is just absolutely on point for the message of it. The constant allusions to quintessential American favorites- Whitney Houston, Biggie Smalls, Karaoke, NASCAR, Blockbuster, block parties, basketball, denim jorts, and Jordan’s- make this show what it is. Hilarious.

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Jessica having her Whitney moment #mood

Women in Comedy/SNL

Ellithorpe, Morgan E., and Amy Bleakley. “Wanting to See People Like Me? Racial and Gender Diversity in Popular Adolescent Television.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 45, no. 7, 2016, pp. 1426-1437. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1795436309?accountid=11107, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0415-4.

The paper “Wanting to See People Like Me? Racial and Gender in Popular Adolescent Television” discusses the relationship between adolescent identity and racial and gender diverse television shows. The paper makes the argument that adolescents prefer watching television shows that have characters within their own identity group. It states that this might be due to adolescents seeking to use these characters to build their own identity. The paper conducts a study that compares black adolescents to nonblack adolescents and female adolescents to male adolescents and the diversity of the shows each group gravitates towards. Overall, television shows popular with black adolescents in comparisons to those popular with other racial groups tend to have more black characters. Likewise, popular shows among female adolescents tend to have more female characters than other shows. This paper is important in justifying our research about female representation in SNL episodes. Female representation in popular shows such as SNL impact the shows’ ratings as well as expands the type of audience that views the show.

Feeney, Nolan. “Why Aren’t There More Women On The Top-Earning Comedians List?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 July 2013, www.forbes.com/sites/nolanfeeney/2013/07/11/why-arent-there-more-women-on-the-top-earning-comedians-list/.

The article “Why aren’t there more women on the top earning comedians list” by Nolan Feeny examines some of the reasons why female comedians do not statistical seem successful in comparison to their male counterparts. The first reason the article argues is the difficulty of women comedians to appeal to male audiences due to dated assumptions that female comedians only talk about stereotypical female experiences such as shopping with their husbands. This strong stereotype reduces the amount of ticket sales female comedians can get. The article goes on to argue that female comedians make more of their income on television than from standup, therefore leading to the discrepancy. However, Feeny still points out that women also struggle to get a spot-on television, unless their comedic personality is especially bold and more masculine. The article also provides statistics as the cause of lack of top paying female comedians. Overall there are fewer female comedians in relation to male comedians, the article argues this is due to the hostile nature of the comedy industry for women. In regards to our research on women in SNL, this article can be helpful by giving us insight into why there is a discrepancy between the number of women and male comedians in the business.

Hester, Michael. “Yes, Female Writers Produce Funny Television.” The DataFace, 30 Aug. 2018, http://thedataface.com/2018/06/culture/comedy-writing-staffs

The article “Yes, Female Writers Produce Funny Television” examines the gender composition of television’s comedy writing staffs. The article provides multiple data sets from various shows and statistics about female writers in comedy to make the over arching argument that comedy shows are more relatable and successful when they have a more gender diverse writing staff. The article first provides data from Rick and Morty that shows the ratings during season three, after the introduction of more female writers, increase. Next the article examines how females are the minority in writing staffs.  On average eighty one percent of writing credits on TV comedies are attributed to males. The article goes on to discuss that the inclusion of more female writers will be more beneficial for TV shows. It supports this claim with more data from IMDd that shows a statistically significant improvement between episodes ratings written by a gender balanced writing team. Overall this article’s research will be helpful for us when constructing our own research question. It provides us with useful statistics about comedy writers as well as shows us some of the common data already on females in television comedy.

Kein, Kathryn. “Recovering our Sense of Humor: New Directions in Feminist Humor Studies.” Feminist Studies, vol. 41, no. 3, 2015, pp. 671-681,700. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1768148508?accountid=11107.

The article “Recovering our Sense of Humor: New Directions in Feminist Humor Studies” by Kathryn Kain reviews how recent texts and books are focusing on the relationship between humor and women. The article makes the argument that there has been an “explosion” of discourse about women in US humor. Kein examines how these works attempt to tackle questions such as: How has gendered assumptions about humor lead to exclusions in feminist studies and how has these assumptions affected the work women produce in comedy. The works reframe mainstream thought on humor’s function and its production by analyzing who is producing humor and who is comedy being written for. The article discusses All Joking Aside by Rebecca Krefting and highlights Krefting’s term “charged humor.” Another work the article reviews is Linda Mizejewski’s Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics. The article examines this work’s discussion on the discrepancy between women comedians’ looks and their ability to be funny. The last work the article reviews is The Queer Cultural Work of Lily Tomlin and Jane Wager by Jennifer Reed which focuses on the relationship between feminism and queer politics.  Overall “Recovering our Sense of Humor: New Directions in Feminist Humor Studies” can be used as a resource for the common discussions being held about women in comedy.

Lauzen, Martha. “The Funny Business of Being Tina Fey: Constructing a (Feminist) Comedy Icon.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, 2014, pp. 106. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1509208764?accountid=11107.

The article “The Funny Business of Being Tina Fey: Constructing a (feminist) comedy icon” by Martha Lauzen discusses the role female comedian and head writer of Saturday Night Live , Tina Fey, has within the comedy industry. The article highlights how she has made huge strides within a commonly male dominated industry. Lauzen examines how Fey constructs her reputation as a women writer as well as how she deals with the media and critics. Fey utilizes a complex mix of self- deprecation and sarcasm when responding to sexist comments about her role in the comedy career.  The article discusses how Fey tackles topics such as double standards, feminism, and her role as a woman in comedy. The article more broadly discusses women’s representation in comedic television, such as SNL, as well as their roles’ as writers. Lauzen makes the argument that as more women writers rise in fame, female comics will be given more reputability among reporters and will ultimately seize to be rare occurrences in the field of media. Lauzen argues that this significant shift will establish women’s place in comedy and allow them to concentrate on their work, rather than constantly having to justify their position in such an industry. Overall this article provides us insight about the environment women face in the comedy industry.

Rosa, Christopher. “16 Times Women Changed the Game on ‘Saturday Night Live’.” Glamour, Glamour Magazine, 30 June 2018, www.glamour.com/story/history-of-women-on-saturday-night-live.

The article “16 Times Women Changed the Game on Saturday Night Live” by Glamour writer Christopher Rosa constructs a timeline for the history of women in the popular show Saturday Night Live. The timeline focuses on sixteen major breakthroughs in SNL history that has advanced women’s role within the show. The article makes the argument that Saturday Night Live launched the careers of many influential women that contributed towards achieving some equality within media. The article first opens by highlighting the fact that the first actor of SNL was Glida Radner, who later become a female comedian icon. The article then moves on to highlighting more firsts such as the Candice Bergen being the first female host and the first all-female Weekend Update team. The article also provides these pivotal episodes alongside the text.  This timeline will be an important resource to understand the role women played in constructing SNL.

Women in Comedy, SNL (Bibliography)

Please excuse the lack of indentation. WordPress is really trying me here.


Doan, Alesha E. “‘What’s Wrong with Being Sexy?’ Why Political
Science Needs to Get Serious about Sexuality.” PS: Political Science &
Politics, vol. 44, no. 1, 2011, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/
839849726/3A78EBE88EB34B57PQ/18?accountid=11107. Accessed 17
September 2018.

This article discusses the manner in which the use of female characters is sometimes intentional in television, and more specifically, in comedy sketch shows. It draws upon specific examples from SNL and compares the popularity of female political characters versus those of the male gender. The author argues that while certain comments can be made by male characters, those same comments actually have much more resonance when spoken by females. She specifically investigates the portrayal of the show’s mid-to-late-2000’s era characters such as former president Barack Obama and his political opponent the late John McCain. The importance of these characters’ comments about sexuality is compared to comments made by female actors impersonating Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, two other candidates for the presidency. It is seen that the female characters’ quotes elicited a much more positive response from audiences than the male characters’. This article is valuable for research given that it places emphasis on the manner in which females are often used in comedy in order to generate a boost in audience morale and appreciation of the show’s content. The conclusions drawn in this article can be applied to females as a whole in comedy and television.


Fulton, DoVeanna S. “Comic Views and Metaphysical Dilemmas:
Shattering Cultural Images through Self-Definition and
Representation by Black Comediennes.” Journal of American
Folklore, vol. 117, no. 463, 2004, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl
Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article discusses the expectations of females and their roles in comedy and television. It deeply investigates cases pertaining to specifically African-American females in comedy. The author argues that they tend to experience much different expectations and dilemmas as compared to their male colleagues and fellow comedians who are not of minority races. She points out that in the past, women were not seen as fit to explore the field of comedy, and she shows that women of minority races still struggle exceedingly with this enigma of exclusivity in comedy to this day. This article is not only of value due to its mentioning of minority women in comedy but also due to its solid connection between societal enigmas in the past and the present. This connection through the passage of time allows for one to see the effects of previous societal beliefs in comedy that are present today. It is especially helpful due to its relevance in today’s comedy shows that include, or in many cases do not include, women of minority.


Press, Andrea, and Terry Strathman. “Work, Family, and Social Class
in Television Images of Women: Prime-Time Television and the
Construction of Postfeminism.” Women and Language, vol. 16, no. 2,
1993, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/198874239/abstract/
3FF771C22EDPQ/1?accountid=11107. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article opens with a discussion on the tendency of television shows to undermine the day-to-day struggles of the average woman throughout her lifetime. The authors form an argument that leans towards the basis of an unrealistic portrayal of women on television. Societal ideologies are compared to the generalized female character on the majority of television shows. The authors place great importance on the early sitcom I Love Lucy and the role that Lucille Ball played as America’s woman on television. The article then investigates several other female-focused shows throughout several generations that correspond to the various eras of the development of feminism. The authors conclude that women’s roles as portrayed on television ultimately coincided with the changing roles of women out in the workforce and in their households. This article is undoubtedly valuable due to its comprehensive overview of women’s roles on television and how they changed as similar changes were observed out in society. This overview allows for a greater understanding of the stages of the development of feminism. It also helps in understanding the past and present and how these two entities practically determine the course of feminism, both on- and off-screen.


Romano, Tricia. “SNL’s Kenan Thompson and the Invisible Black
Women of Comedy.” The Daily Beast, 17 October 2013, https://search.
PQ/1?accountid=11107. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article is focused on a quote by Kenan Thompson, a long-time actor and comedian on SNL. It pokes at the subtle truth lying behind a controversial quote of his that was centered on the fact that there are very few black women on both SNL and comedy shows in general. The author uses quotes from various sources that dig into Thompson’s words. She concludes that he is not necessarily wrong; there are multiple professionals in the world of comedy who also know and admit that black women in comedy are a very rare occurrence. Upon its publishing in 2013, the article directly states that since the show first aired nearly forty years ago, there have only been four black women on the permanent cast. This article is of great value due to its complexity in discussing the issue of minority women on SNL specifically. The multiple sources that are cited in the article give exceedingly important facts and quotes from insiders and showrunners on the show, and its focus on women of minority gives large insight to the gap that still exists in SNL and in the comedy business as a whole.


Schilling, Dave. “Why Sasheer Zamata Never Had a Chance on
Saturday Night Live.” Vulture, 30 May 2017,  http://www.vulture.
ce.html. Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article focuses directly on Sasheer Zamata, a young cast member of SNL who, compared to other cast members, did not last but seconds on the show. The author compares her short career run with other black females and holds an in-depth discussion on the history of black females on the show. He argues that over the show’s entirety, there has only been two black females who has managed to keep her place on the show: Leslie Jones and Maya Rudolph. It is concluded that personas that did not fit into the “white baby-boomer ideas of what is funny” had little to no chance of keeping their spots in the skits. The author concludes that black females other than Rudolph and Jones just have not seem to have “what it takes” to survive in the largely white world of SNL. This article is of value because it compares lesser known black females with those who were (and still are) staples in the show’s history. He notes that the disappearance of Zamata from the cast is just another case in the cycle of black women being overshadowed in comedy, especially on SNL.


Tally, Margaret J. “Television Women from Lucy to Friends: Fifty
Years of Sitcoms and Feminism.”The Journal of American Culture,
vol. 27, no. 2, 2004, https://search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/
Accessed 17 September 2018.

This article is a review for Lynn Spangler’s book Television Women from ‘Lucy’ to ‘Friends’: Fifty Years of Sitcoms and Feminism. It goes over how Spangler recognizes how trends in television spark trends in society and vice versa. The author notes that Spangler makes an interesting point in noticing that women sometimes seem to enjoy unrealistic images of themselves, even though these images are mostly “regressive” in their portrayal of women’s roles in their careers and households. In this manner, the article brings some controversy to light; the reader is then allowed to see that these past observations by Spangler are indeed still relevant in today’s society. The article is valuable for research in the way that it serves to connect the dots of some underlying stigmas in television and comedy shows today. One can see that general audiences will sometimes continue to enjoy shows even though character portrayals are not ideal. It can also be said that television’s portrayal of women was just as important to real-world citizens in the early stages of television as continues to be now.

Are Women Funny? If So, Why Are So Few Comedians?

Lopez, Victoria A. “they’Re Only Laughing ‘Cause You’Re Pretty”: Women’s Experiences at Comedy Clubs, San Diego State University, Ann Arbor, 2017. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1987948729?accountid=11107.

This source aims at attempting to understand why so few female comedians make it past the comedy club stage, and the author studies participants of both genders with regards to their perceptions of female comedians, the stereotypes that these women are generally expected to embody and the culture that is experienced by women who have an interest in pursuing a career in comedy. Namely, the study examines the engrained societal belief that “women are not funny” (held by both genders) and how this contributes to dissuading more women from attempting to become comedians.

Most interestingly, the source interviews several amateur comedians attempting to gain a following through performing at comedy clubs, bringing results to the table that suggest almost all women believe they must act like a man in order to be taken seriously by both the audience and their fellow comedians. Even then, however, there is an element of sexuality versus loss of femininity that plays heavily into everyone’s perception of the female comedian as well as her set. Ultimately, the author concluded that there are multiple forces working against women in comedy, some of which stem from the women themselves.


Kibler, M. A. (1999). Gender conflict and cercion on A&E’s an evening at the improv.Journal of Popular Culture, 32(4), 45-57. Retrieved from http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/195362049?accountid=11107

This source takes a look at who the audience is and how they react to jokes. Many comedic routines are gendered, both in jokes and in responses to jokes, and, although the audience in general may laugh at a domestic abuse joke, for example, not everybody is laughing equally or as genuinely. It has been said that comedy creates a community, but the community is formed by the majority at the expense of the minority; since comedy is such a male-dominated field, minorities such as women must not only laugh along with these jokes but pander to this crowd when crafting their own routines.

The most important part about this source, however, is the look into what the creation of this community does. Besides generically reinforcing the stereotypes that most jokes are about, the continuing jokes that pander to the majority simply reinforce the supremacy of that majority. They create an atmosphere of group versus group, making it seem even more daunting for the lesser of the groups (women) to break into the greater of the groups (men) as they feel even more so than normal that they are competing against this group entirely.


Montemurro, B. (2003). Not a laughing matter: Sexual harassment as “material” on workplace-based situation comedies. Sex Roles, 48(9), 433. Retrieved from http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/225367946?accountid=11107

This source focuses on the impact that using sexual harassment, rape and female degradation jokes as parts of mass media comedic routines has on the way that society reacts to actual occurrences of these actions – specifically, devaluing and trivializing them. The implications here are widespread and long-lasting; multiple studies cited within the source showed a clear link between exposure to sexual harassment jokes and lack of empathy towards women who actually experience this harassment, most specifically when it comes within the workplace.

More than anything, however, the source cited other studies that established a link between how characters in situation comedies react to unconventionally attractive women and how viewers of those shows responded in real life to women – namely, that laughing at larger women on television led them to discriminate against them in real life. The idea that women are meant to be sexualized and that this sexualization is normal – reinforced both through harassment jokes and through the degradation of women in general – is harmful to the societal view of women, the advancement of women and, more than anything, the right for women to be taken seriously when presenting a valid concern.


Hitchens, Christopher. “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Vanity Fair, Vanity Fair, Jan. 2007, www.vanityfair.com/culture/2007/01/hitchens200701.

In this source, the author takes an anti-females-in-comedy approach and focuses specifically on why women are generally not funny. He argues that men must be funny in order to be able to attract women, whereas men are always attracted to all women and therefore women do not need to put in nearly as much effort to appear attractive since they are clearly being sexualized at all times. Although the source admits that there are some funny female comedians, he stereotypes them all as being “[large], [lesbian] or Jewish”, using derogatory terms in the process.

The pinnacle of this article is when the author mentions that men do not want women to be funny and/or work in comedy because making people laugh is a sign of intelligence, and women would represent a fair amount of competition in the arena of brainpower. Not wanting this competition and needing to feel as if they are necessary, men hold tight to humor as their way to attract a mate and do not let females in on this exclusive world because “they do not need to be funny to be successful”.


Belsky, Marcia. “The Lose-Lose Life of the Female Comedian.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Nov. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/opinion/women-comedy.html.

This opinion article is written by a female comedian telling her story of first getting started in comedy. She writes about the sexualization that comes with being a woman in a primarily-male field, as well as how refusing to sleep around ended many conversations with people who could have potentially been influential. She writes also about how she tried to become “one of the boys”, ignoring their views of her, but how it is nearly impossible to get somewhere in a field that relies on others’ approval if one is missing that. Eventually, she has become confident in herself as a female and has experienced some success.

However, most importantly are the author’s comments about females who are experiencing harassment being unsure when to call the harassers out for what they are doing, when to put a stop to the actions, etc., especially in comedy where everyone is expected to “chill out” and “have fun”. The author supposes that, rather than deal with any complaints or issues arising, the industry generally has concluded it is easier not to have women than to have to deal with female anger towards unfair behavior.


Khazan, Olga. “Why Men Don’t Like Funny Women.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 19 Nov. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/11/plight-of-the-funny-female/416559/.

The author of this article writes about why men do not find females funny, although, in many cases, other females find this female funny. Through writing the rest of the article, the author fleshes out the idea that humor is a sign of intelligence and, therefore, it is evolutionarily logical that one would prefer a funny mate – and therefore, men must try to be funny in order to find said mate. However, interestingly enough, everyone claimed they wanted a mate with a sense of humor – although women defined this as “telling jokes” and men defined this as “laughing at my jokes”.

Most tellingly, the author cites a source in which women called themselves “unfunny” from the beginning before writing witty lines, and the results of this survey found that the male lines were more often rated to be the funniest. This carried over to the conclusion of the cited survey, in which almost 90% of both genders’ participants rated men to be the funnier gender. Results like this beg the question of whether or not the gender disparity in comedy is self-inflicted or a result of actual societal barriers.

A Colorful View of American Culture – Or Not?

This week I started Fresh Off the Boat, and had no idea what I would write my blog post about. It wasn’t until my second viewing that I started noticing all the little details about the cinematography that are actually worth talking about

In terms of the shots, there is a pretty steady mix of long and short shots. While during conversation there are long steady shots, there were often short shots in between. These shorter shots were used to flash images of other characters faces to gage their reactions to the conversation. These shots help the viewer take the conversation less seriously and highlight the absurdity of the conversation. These are mostly used for comedic effect, but the more interesting analysis can come in the choice of color and lighting in the episode.

The first thing I noticed were the colors and lighting. At the start of the episode, as the Huangs arrive at Orlando, the colors and lighting are bright. In flashbacks to Chinatown, the colors are very dim. This creates a very positive image about white, American culture in the viewers mind. For example, upon arrival at the house a gang of moms wearing a bright neon assortment of colors approaches Jessica Huang (the Huang family mom). When Eddie is eating lunch on the first day, he looks around and his eyes skim over the bright colors on other children’s lunchables.

Note here all the busy patterns and colorful nature of the attire worn by the other moms


However, as the episode progresses forward, colors surrounding the American culture begin to become more dim and lighting becomes dark. The colors don’t become dim because they are different, but rather because the darker lighting makes the colors see that way. The next time we see this gang of moms roller skating with Jessica, they are in the shade and their colorful activewear suddenly looks much more dim. This shows that the realization is setting in that American life is not as appealing as it looks. This same strategy is repeated in the supermarket scene. It is night time and dark out, but the colorful sign for “Food for All!!!” is glowing in the darkness. When they walk inside on the other hand, it is fully monochromatic and bland looking. Jessica even refers to it as looking like a hospital. At the end of the episode, as the Huang family walks away from Eddie’s middle school, their surroundings seem dull in color while their clothes are bright enough to stand out in this scene. This signifies the Huang family’s realization that the true happiness does not lie in conforming to American culture, but rather through acceptance of their own.

The Huang family had to learn to accept their culture like this man loves himself


All In One Take

After watching the first season of Broad City, the episode that stands out the most for me in terms of its visual design is the eighth episode of season 1, titled “Destination: Wedding.” Right from the beginning, the episode opens with a long sequence of Abbi, Ilana, and some friends frantically running in formal wear down a New York street, late for Abbi’s friend’s wedding in Bridgeport, CT. The opening scene continues in one uninterrupted take, and the camera frames Abbi’s and Ilana’s exhausted faces with the skyscrapers of the city. Broad City usually employs long scenes in each episode because the scene flows more naturally, so the opening scene naturally sets the storyline, and we are drawn in with curiosity to see if the group will reach their destination. It is like we as the viewers are running alongside Abbi and Ilana, making the situation more personal even if we are not physically with them.

Opening scene of “Destination: Wedding”

Another example of these natural long takes occurs within the same episode when Abbi and Ilana board a sketchy bus to Bridgeport. Although Abbi is initially relieved to be on the bus, her relief fades as she observes sick passengers, live animals on the loose, and a tank of frozen fish. The camera takes the place of Abbi’s eyes as the viewer sees the monstrosities on the bus. This perspective camera movement is used in this episode because it elevates the comedy of Abbi’s disbelief without the necessity for dialogue. Instead of hearing Abbi bicker, we as viewers can see what she sees, and subsequently understand her disgust for being on the bus. Therefore, the inclusion of long takes in Broad City, especially in episode 8, helps to make a more natural, flowing, and comfortable scene where the viewers can easily recognize the humor and emotions of Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters.

While Broad City utilizes long, uninterrupted scenes to elevate its humor, the show also uses light to solidify the realistic nature of their situation. In episode 8, the opening scene and the bus scene are normally lit with daylight, implying a passage of time as well as a tone of familiarity with the situation. Abbi and Ilana are late to a friend’s wedding, a very relatable situation to most young people. Also, the color scheme of the show does not pop with certain colors to signify a certain mood. The colors of each scene are relatively neutral, even Abbi’s and Ilana’s dresses in episode 8, because the show is trying to make the lives of these women mimic reality, along with added humor and craziness.

Overall, Broad City has a visual design that plays into the understated yet wacky comedic situations of its two protagonists, Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler. Whether they are late for a wedding or having a seriously improvised conversation, the cinematography and direction of each scene exude the natural, realistic atmosphere of these two women’s lives. 

Broad City title card

Portlandia’s compelling case for why excessive sanctimony is hurting the liberal cause

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen set fire to the TV world with Portlandia, a satire of life in urban blue-state Ameria

As a liberal myself, I have often been concerned with how some in my ideological circle approach political discourse – particularly with those they disagree with. Among other things, popular conceptions of liberals include a tendency to immediately attribute ill intentions to the other side and to be too easily offended. Whether this is truly a widespread phenomenon or not, it is undoubtedly a prevailing stereotype and one that is explored and critiqued in Portlandia.

Portlandia episodes are comprised of a series of short bits, so many themes can exist in a given episode. This entry will focus on season 2 episode 1: “Mixologist.” Specifically, I will discuss a bit in the episode that occurs at a feminist bookstore, where the two main characters play employees.

In this scene, the two millennial female employees of the bookstore encounter an older man whom they’ve hired to fix their AC unit. The scene begins with the repairman entering the bookstore and asking where the unit is. The employees ask him what he means, and the repairman begins to wave his hands to describe the shape of the AC system and proceeds to make a “whirring” noise with his lips. Immediately, Carrie Brownstein’s character stops him and explains that he needs to stop moving and making that noise for an ambiguous reason and Fred Armisen’s character asks if that means his character (who is a woman) also cannot make the noise. When the man asks again where the AC unit is, Brownstein’s character tells him he should not use the words “unit,” “box,” or “equipment” because she feels penises all around her and is practically “halfway to pregnant.”

Armisen questions her by suggesting he calls it a “chill unit” instead, but evidently that phrase cannot be used either. Seeing the cues from her partner, Armisen’s character eventually agrees and becomes equally offended that the repairman would have the audacity to use such a word. The repairman eventually fixes the air conditioner, and after encountering another difficulty as he refers to Armisen’s character as “sweetie,” he is given two books to read – one of which details how inside all of us is both a “phallus and the opposite of a phallus.”

Although a major exaggeration, this scene gets to the heart of why many feel that liberals are excessively sanctimonious. This scene illustrates examples of how some seem to take offense to minuscule things, like the use of “unit” or calling someone “sweetie.” Furthermore, we see how peer pressure leads Armisen’s character to take offense to things she would otherwise be fine with. In a show that markets to liberals and depicts the “hippie” lifestyle of Portland, this critique of modern liberalism is one that fits well within the show. The hope is that viewers look down upon this absurd style of engagement and set their default assumption of others’ intentions as good rather than bad.

FOTB: Giving a Voice to the Excluded

A major theme in the first two episodes of Fresh off the Boat is exclusion. It argues that exclusion comes in too many ways to count, especially non-traditional ways. For example, Eddie (11 year old main character) isn’t allowed to sit with some boys at lunch because his Chinese food smells bad to his classmates. While this isn’t “excluding him because of his race”, it actually is because the food is part of his culture, which is part of him and his family. Eddie just wants to belong and therefore is willing to conform to his classmates standards, just to make friends. The show focuses on the minor (and major)  ways that minorities are excluded and discriminated against. The Huang family is seemingly the only non-white family in the neighborhood, which makes them feel left out IN THEIR OWN HOME. Especially when the crazy white neighbor tells you “your English is so good” even though you were born in America…

I would eat these noodles over a Lunchable any      day

The show makes its argument not only by showing the exclusion that the Huang family faces, but also from the exclusion Eddie  faces within his own family. His two younger brothers get to go to the same school and sit on the same bus together, but he has to go alone. He LOVES rap music, but his family likes other music. His mom wants them to go to a CLC, Chinese Learning Center, to academically challenge them, while all the other boys his age get to play outside, make friends, and shoot hoops. Worst of all, his little brothers aren’t upset about doing CLC instead of being normal kids. Their relationships portray that even in a loving family, one can feel like an outsider. I think it’s unique because sometimes television families are just classified as “good” or “bad” and FOTB embraces the grey of family.


While this show is a sitcom that is supposed to be funny, it’s themes attack what is wrong with modern America. It can take a serious theme, like exclusion, and use humor to show how it affects people’s lives and I think that is so powerful. My favorite quote from these episodes comes from a conversation between Eddie and his mom. Eddie wants a Lunchable for his school lunch, instead of his mom’s Chinese food. She responds with “You want it to fit in a box? Why are you so American?”. Honestly this quote just stuck out to me and I felt the need to write it down because of how powerful it is. I love that comedy can become so political by using its following base to show what is wrong with our society. There is so much conformity & exclusion in America right now and it means we are missing out on a lot of unique people & ideas. Modern “entertainment” does wayyy more than entertain and I think Fresh off the Boat is the perfect example of media becoming political and thought provoking.

Adventures of a sOpHoMoRe bY cReDiTs

Hey guys! Its ya boi Sunny Singh, back at it again with another youtub- I mean blog post. I’m a Mechanical Engineer and I am expected to graduated in 2022 but we all know that’s probably not gonna happen.

This is actually my first English course here at Tech, but I am super grateful that I got such an interesting theme (television and feminism) instead of the history of snails or something. I did take AP English Language and English Literature in high school and those really helped me hone my oral communication skills through the various discussions throughout the years. I feel most adept at communicating verbally because it allows for actual conversations and allows both persons to express their first and most natural thoughts on a subject. However, the element that I struggle with most is written communication. I feel that my ideas get lost in my thoughts before I am able to get them down on paper. This results in my writing being all over the place and simply not flowing. And besides not flowing I feel like writing is also the form of communication that I am most afraid to initiate. I don’t know what it is exactly, but maybe the thought of actual words being written down with pen and paper makes the ideas seem so permanent. I think this psychs me out because I feel like it must be perfect and then I end up not writing anything. So, I definitely hope to work on improving that element of communication this semester but I also want to refine my non-verbal skills because I feel like they can be a major sign of respect or disrespect so it could never hurt to make them better, or well try to at least.  

I was a very inconsistent TV fanatic in high school but I will say this last summer before college I did attempt to redeem myself. After dinner me and my brother would watch a few episodes of Gotham before going to bed and some nights those “few episodes” will turn into half a season and a bag of Takis mixed into a bowl of popcorn for the perfect spice-to-butter ratio. I prefer comedy and action TV shows but generally I will start a TV show, binge watch up to the latest season, forget about it, and then start over again with a new series.

I have chosen to review Fresh Off the Boat, which is basically about an immigrant kid trying to fit into American culture. I picked this show because I find the premise of the show to be extremely relatable and I think Randall Park is just hilarious. I’m excited to start watching and can’t wait to see what underlying messages the writers try to poke at through the comedy of the show! 

How I feel about getting to watch another TV show for class

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