Bridesmaids No More: TV's Women Get All The Laughs

Play associated audio

Is there anybody on TV more adorable than Zooey Deschanel on Fox's new hit sitcom New Girl?

She's playing a woman who moved in with three guys after a bad romance. We've seen Deschanel play this character countless times over the last 10 years: quirky, bohemian, earnest and a little dorky. Fox even used the term "adorkable" just to describe her.

But she's also the leading edge of a trend that defined television in 2011: the Funny Female.

Kristen Wiig has played GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on Saturday Night Live. Wiig practically defines the year of the Funny Female on TV — and not just because she dominated the funniest skits on SNL this year.

It's also because Wiig's hit movie Bridesmaids gave a boost to two of television's other female MVPs of comedy: Mike and Molly star Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph, from NBC's Up All Night.

When other TV shows tanked, Rudolph and Christina Applegate stepped up with their oddball chemistry as a daytime TV star and her executive producer pal, who is also a new mom.

When you consider who watches TV, this all makes sense. Women typically watch more TV than men, and outside of sports, shows with a high percentage of female viewers also tend to be among television's most successful — think American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Comic Whitney Cummings even grabbed two prime spots on the schedule, as an executive producer on CBS' Monday-night hit 2 Broke Girls, and star of NBC's Whitney.

In January, Cummings' NBC show will be paired with a new sitcom on the life of boozy, sexy comic Chelsea Handler.

That's right: a double-barreled shot of in-your-face females happy to sling sex jokes just like the boys.

It's debatable whether this is such a wonderful leap forward for female's images. But just a few years ago, some critics predicted reality TV shows would kill the sitcom altogether. Instead, the rise of the Funny Female proves network television's future likely comes with a smile — and a pair of snappy high heels.

Eric Deggans is TV and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Out Of Juvenile Corrections, Poems Of Fury, Loss — And Lingering Beauty

Over 1,000 students submitted their work for Words Unlocked, a poetry contest for juveniles in corrections. Two young poets split the top prize — and they've shared their poems with NPR.
NPR

Farmers Wait, And Wait, For Guest Workers Amid H-2A Visa Delays

For the third year in a row, the H-2A visa program is running behind. That's left farmers waiting for planters and pickers even as the harvest season is well underway.
NPR

Be Like Bernie: Sanders Looks To Spread His Political Wealth

He's beginning to expand his political network by helping upstart progressive congressional candidates and state legislators, lending his fundraising prowess and national fame to boost their bids.
NPR

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, She Channeled Her Ups And Downs Into Texts

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Natalie Sun about her project, textingwithcancer.com. The website won a Webby award, and documents her pessimism and optimism while undergoing chemotherapy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.