'Inside Amy Schumer' Takes on Sexism in Hollywood and the Media

In "Brave," 'Inside Amy Schumer' shines the spotlight on sexism in entertainment (and everywhere else) and talks representation in media.

Mark Seliger / Comedy Central

After a week dedicated to gun safety, this week’s Inside Amy Schumer, titled “Brave,” finds Schumer taking on her favorite foe: rampant sexism. Two of the episode’s strongest sketches focused on the perception and treatment of women in entertainment as well as everyday life.

Steve Buscemi opens the show with an awards sketch in which Amy “Winsbury,” along with Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Hudson, and Laura Linney (all Oscar-winning or nominated actresses) are up for the Best Actress Award for their illuminating work acting opposite … phones. Their “standout” lines for the reel consist of asking their husbands when they’re coming home, and it points a finger at the often reductive nature of roles for women in Hollywood, relegating them to the part of “concerned wife.”

Because this is Inside, it’s a clever statement that says a lot without having to spell it out. In light of in-depth analyses that show us just how infrequently women are the focus of a film, this sketch cuts to the heart of the issue of representation of women in Hollywood with clever immediacy.

Later in the episode, we catch up with Schumer in an office where she’s being all but ignored by a male colleague when she asks him to take a look at a proposal. A co-worker swoops with a solution, though: Guyggles. She explains them saying, “They’re like Google Glass but they show you the kind of woman the guy in front of you needs you to be.”

Here are the options: flirty victim, spunky kid sister, wounded skank, flirty friend of mom, manic pixie, or Amy Adams. You simply put on the goggles and tailor your personality to suit the man you’re interacting with. Schumer gives it a shot, moving from one co worker to the next and shifting her demeanor according to the goggles’ recommendation.

It’s exhausting and shows the degree to which women have to be like chameleons in every situation — changing and adapting so as not to come off as pushy or shrill or bitchy or bossy or any of the litany of terms used to describe women who aren’t “agreeable” enough.

It’s a short but impactive skewer, and one that likely rings true to any woman who’s found herself doing the exhausting mental work of reading situations and analyzing all possible reactions to and perceptions of her every move.

The end of the sketch packs an even more powerful punch when we shift focus to another woman working in the office — a black woman who brings news of cupcakes in the break woman just before she puts on her own Guyggles. We watch as the goggles struggle to keep up with the bevy of input (even more than we saw through Schumer’s goggles) before they eventually give out under the weight of all of the information, all of the required mental gymnastics. The point is clear: gaining respect and equal treatment in the workplace is still hard for women in 2016, and it’s even harder for women of color.

Schumer’s standup segments this episode centered around her photoshoot with Annie Leibowitz and the response to the photo that went viral in November.

She says, “This is the word you don’t want people to use after a photo of you when you’re nude goes viral: Brave.”

The segments are sharp and funny as she talks about parts of her body in terms of “brave”-ness and then hits on her growing celebrity, as she says, “Oh my god you guys, don’t feel bad for me. You know I’m like very rich now, right?” Schumer’s leaning into it, and so far this season, it’s been serving the show well.

At the end of the episode in the Amy Goes Deep segment, Schumer talks to Sara Wolff, a disability rights advocate who has Down syndrome and was instrumental in the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014.

Schumer and Wolff talk about the ABLE Act and about Full House and Malibu Bay Breeze, but touch on the vitally important issue of representation in television, particularly representation for those with disabilities. Wolff talks about shows like Glee and Life Goes On, which featured characters and actors who had Down syndrome. It’s another reminder that so many groups are severely underrepresented in media, and that underrepresentation is a problem that needs the attention of audiences and creators alike.

Inside Amy Schumer came back this week to tackle more issues with deft clarity and it continues to work really, really well. Inside is at its best when it refuses to spare feelings at the expense of incisive commentary, and “Brave” makes it clear.

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