Hey Adult Swim: Where The Women At?

by Devon Preston

Saying that women have had to fight, and continue to fight, to earn respect within the comedy world is indisputable. Women have worked for decades to end the stigma that women aren’t funny. It’s incredible to look back at the progress that female comedians have made over time, with women like Joan Rivers, Lucille Ball, and Gilda Radner getting the ball rolling during the mid to late 20th century. They defied expectations set upon them by the entertainment industry and inspired millions of young women to make a name for themselves in comedy. From Amy Poehler and Tina Fey dominating on SNL, Aubrey Plaza winning over audiences with a deadpan technique, and Margaret Cho breaking down barriers for both Asian-American and LGBTQ women through character comedy; the 21st-century entertainment industry has seen a massive influx of diverse and engaging female comics. Television networks and movie studios have embraced female comedians, proving that there is no such thing as being “funny for a girl”. Yet one network has yet to catch up with the pack. Adult Swim

Adult Swim has put out some pretty stellar original programming. Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show, and Black Jesus are fucking hilarious. There is no excuse for a comedy network to have a roster of 47 male content creators and not a single program written by a woman. If that wasn’t bad enough if you tally up creator credit’s on each one of Adult Swim’s programs, only 1 out of 34 names is female. The industry average is 1 out of 5 credits belongs to women.

Rick and Morty

For those of you who don’t know, Adult Swim is a cable network created by Cartoon Network, which was designed to feature content geared towards teenagers and adults. Since it’s conception in 2001, the network has aired countless original programs as well as syndicated shows from Fox television and anime. The network is the first of it’s kind, giving viewers the first dose of late night cartoon comedy, but should that does not excuse them for keeping their programming “boys only”. Sure women can enjoy and relate to the current content on Adult Swim, yet by not having a single female perspective in the work room, the network is essentially perpetuating the stereotype that women aren’t funny or that women can’t keep up with the kind of humor that Adult Swim provides.

When Splitsider editor and comedy journalist, Megh Wright, first exposed Adult Swim’s complete lack of female content creators, many people reacted to the news on social media. This prompted Adult Swim executive, Mike Lazzo, to explain why Adult Swim has left women out of the picture. On Adult Swim’s Reddit, Lazzo stated that “women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects.” If that isn’t a big load of unapologetic sexism, I don’t know what is.

Black Jesus
Lazzo is not only ignoring the problem of gender inequality within Adult Swim, he is essentially insulting female comedians as a whole by saying that women can’t handle conflict. Afterwards he does admit that certain women in comedy, Lucille Ball, Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, and Gilda “Rather” (her name is Gilda Radner), have proved his assumption of women in comedy to be false, but he doesn’t make much of an effort to win over women outside of mentioning that small snippet of the dozens of women who have made an impact in comedy. Are these honestly the only “exceptions” that Lazzo can think of to rule that women can’t handle comedy? 

Female comedians have found huge success in nearly every sector of comedy, from sitcom, to stand up, to improv and beyond. For Lazzo to write off women as not fitting into the niche of Adult Swim is total bullshit because female comedians have proved that they are multi-faceted as well as adaptive to roles that were once exclusive to men. If we can have a team of female Ghostbusters; women such as Rachel Bloom, Amy Poehler, and Gina Rodriguez slaying the sitcom world; and Samantha Bee, keeping us laughing throughout this election then why the hell can’t we have a female creator on Adult Swim? Seriously, this kind of misogyny is so five years ago. 

Photos Courtesy of Adult Swim

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