It looks like we’ll be able to look forward to at least one mid-budget female-driven comedy every summer. 2011 had Bridesmaids; 2012, Pitch Perfect. After last year’s The Heat, we’ll have July’s Tammy, written by and starring Melissa McCarthy. And 2015 will bring Trainwreck, a Judd Apatow-helmed vehicle for Amy Schumer, who currently has her own show on Comedy Central.
Other than the studios’ strange assumption that women only need to laugh for two hours every summer, the announcement of Trainwreck is very welcome. Schumer’s show is currently the only one starring a women on Comedy Central (soon to be joined by the Amy Poehler-produced Broad City, a showcase for comediennes Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson), so kudos to her for making the leap to the big screen. And while we are at it kudos to television for recognizing female comedic talent like Schumer, McCarthy, Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, etc., etc., etc. while the bro-dude comedy genre gets lost up Ron Burgundy’s ass.
But perhaps the best part of this announcement is Apatow’s participation. One of the biggest impediments to getting more female performers and creators in front of and behind the camera — other than the studios’ bizarre and untrue insistence that male audiences won’t watch a movie about women — is the issue of mentorship. Apatow has proven to be a more generous (or perhaps simply more skilled) mentor to many young actors, especially in encouraging and helping many to write, develop, produce, and even direct their own projects. His mentorship has, in fact, led to a frathouse’s worth of samey-samey dude-bro comedies in the past ten years.
It’s for this reason, then, that it’s promising to see Apatow work with more female comedians and writers, as well as those of color. Back in November, Apatow shepherded Key and Peele stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele through a movie deal, and of course he helped Lena Dunham develop the pilot for Girls, which he executive produces. He produced Bridesmaids and worked with Boys Don’t Cry and Carrie director Kimberly Peirce on a queer comedy that sadly never came into fruition. He’s behind one of the best teen female protagonists ever (RIP, Freaks and Geeks), and he helped make Leslie Mann an in-demand actress. So what if Mann’s his wife? She’s enormously talented and has added a much-needed female presence in many of his films.
Apatow is a boy’s man, but, unlike so many of the male movers and shakers in Hollywood, he’s also remaking himself into a women’s mentor. (To conjecture wildly, perhaps raising two daughters has made him more eager to create more opportunities where female talent can express itself and shine through?) Whatever the case, you can finally count me a fan.