“…And,” as the headline at UK’s The Guardian tells us, “hilarity ensues.” Here’s why:
by Sarah Hughes
Hit HBO comedy Girls is to end after its sixth season, much to the distress of fans, but the era-defining show – created and written by and starringLena Dunham – is part of a surge of female-driven TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
Television has long been criticised for its lack of female comedy writers, but that is changing. “There does seem to be this whole new wave of very talented women who are writing smart and funny and very complicated male and female characters. It really feels like a moment,” says Rachel Springett, comedy commissioning editor at Channel 4.
Aiming to plug the Catastrophe-sized hole in the channel’s schedule, Springett has commissioned Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Crashing, about a disparate group of characters living in a disused hospital in east London. She describes it as “one of the most sophisticated debut scripts, like nothing I had ever read”.
Also in the Channel 4 schedule will be Julia Davis’s Morning Has Broken, set on a breakfast television show, and Roisin Conaty’s Game Face, which follows a 30-year-old’s struggle to navigate life. There are also new series of Caitlin and Caroline Moran’s Raised by Wolves and Michaela Coel’s recent hit Chewing Gum.
Sky Atlantic also has another new Julia Davis show, Robin’s Test, which follows three couples on a disastrous camping holiday. Several long-running female-driven comedies will return across all Sky channels, including Ruth Jones’s Stella and the Manchester-set Mount Pleasant. Dunham’s Girls is also on the bill.
In the US, the year’s most hotly anticipated comedy is Issa Rae’s Insecure, which was recently picked up by HBO. Other new shows include Comedy Central’s Idiotsitter, created by and starring Jillian Bell; Sharon Horgan’s HBO comedy Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker; and Comedy Central’s hugely entertaining Another Period, created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome.
Jon Mountague, head of comedy at Sky, agrees that female writers are finally getting their chance to shine, and audiences are responding. “TV has become a little bit more democratic recently,” he says. “For far too long, female voices have been underused and underheard. That’s definitely changing, although it should be said that it could still happen a bit more quickly. We get a huge amount of shows written from the perspective of middle-aged white men in crisis … What’s important is that we reflect a range of voices, not only to serve a diverse audience but also because it allows us to tell new and different stories.”…