Earlier today, there was a conversation on Twitter about the new Chris Rock film “Top Five” and, in particular, the character played by Rosario Dawson.
There are some big things wrong with the way her character is written, most specifically that Rock seems to have no idea how things actually work for someone writing for The New York Times, but I feel like Dawson's so appealing that she's able to turn the character into something more rounded and interesting than what existed on the page.
It's easy to see her character as emblematic of just how hard it is for male-driven comedies to create interesting, three-dimensional women characters, and Cecily Strong made the same point from a different direction tonight on “Saturday Night Live.”
Playing “The One-Dimensional Female Character In A Male-Driven Comedy,” Strong ran through a litany of some of the most annoying traits of what has been dubbed the “manic pixie dream girl,” starting with the idea that her glasses are the only thing preventing anyone from recognizing how hot she is.
The thing is, women aren't the only ones being poorly served by studio movies. Almost anyone can take offense to the surface level writing done in most studio comedies. One of the reasons I'm excited to see Amy Shumer's “Trainwreck” or whatever Key & Peele do in feature films is because these are artists writing from a different point-of-view, who are smart and political and who aren't going to write from the default that is most common now. I read an early draft of “Trainwreck,” and I thought it was a direct refutation of what Strong's character is a reaction to.
When I looked at Twitter after the sketch was aired, it seemed slightly sad to see how many guys talking about the sketch seemed to have missed the point entirely, commenting only on how Strong looked in the bangs and glasses. I thought this was a nice showcase, though, of her sensibility as a comic actor, and she made her point quite effectively. Strong's performance is what makes this one noteworthy, but the premise of the character is something that deserves a larger conversation. As we consider an all-female “Ghostbusters” or see something like “Pitch Perfect 2” treated as a huge studio event, here's hoping this is a joke that won't be relevant for much longer.