Comics

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

Zooey Deschanel plays Jess on Fox's New Girl. Fox uses the term "adorkable" to describe her. i i

hide captionZooey Deschanel plays Jess on Fox's New Girl. Fox uses the term "adorkable" to describe her.

Isabella Vosmikova/Fox
Zooey Deschanel plays Jess on Fox's New Girl. Fox uses the term "adorkable" to describe her.

Zooey Deschanel plays Jess on Fox's New Girl. Fox uses the term "adorkable" to describe her.

Isabella Vosmikova/Fox

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.

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