The TV Room: Inside Amy Schumer Season 3, by David Bax
When you’re piecing together your reaction to a work of art that takes place over time (be it a movie, a novel or a season of a television show), the ending has a natural tendency to loom largest. After all, it’s the part that you just got done experiencing. The last couple episodes of the third season of Inside Amy Schumer were the weakest, not to mention that the show unofficially culminated in the release of Schumer’s underwhelming feature film debut, Trainwreck. So it might take a moment and some perspective to recognize that this was the best season yet.
Despite being a bit of a jumble by its nature (mostly sketch show but with a number of other formats crammed in) it’s helpful, especially for a critic, to locate a throughline. With sketches like the Friday Night Lights parody about high school football players and rape or the eepisode-long sendup of 12 Angry Men in which jurors debate whether Schumer is hot enough to be on television or the viral sensation in featuring Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Julia Louis-Dreyfus celebrating the latter’s “last fuckable day,” it’s clear that Schumer was employing a hilariously sardonic tone in order to focus a righteous fury at a world run by men.
What’s especially commendable and refreshing is that Schumer makes almost no attempt to cater to those men. She’s representing a take on the female experience and she doesn’t care if men don’t get it. This is evident in sketches like the one where Amy’s future selves keep showing up to ensure she makes the right decisions for the future of the human race while her boyfriend’s future self pops in only to warn him that Amy’s going to get fat. Or the one about a woman going to extreme lengths not to bring up that she has a boyfriend so as not to be judged as stuck up. Or, one of my favorites, the panel of incredibly accomplished female scientists who keep reflexively apologizing for everything, a phenomenon that many men, including myself, had never had occasion to consider before.
These pointed sketches may have been the most memorable but they didn’t make up the entirety of the roster. Even when tackling less dialectical material, Schumer proved herself adept at the sketch comedy format, either by employing a twist ending (an aloof boyfriend really does have his life changed by the selection of a new shirt) or simply by playing with form ( like in the entirely wordless sketch in which a relationship’s bloom and demise are related through designs in the foam of a cappuccino).
There are weaknesses to Inside Amy Schumer, though. Other than the man on the street interviews, which serve as relevant bumpers into and out of filmed pieces, most of the non-sketch material falls flat. The bits of stand-up never run long enough to establish the rhythm crucial to the medium. Similarly, the “Amy Goes Deep” interview segments don’t live up to their name. There’s no possibility of anything beyond a superficial survey of, say, the formerly Amish woman in the couple of minutes set aside at the end of an episode.
This review may have put at all the bad stuff at the end, just like this season of Inside Amy Schumer, but aallow me to reiterate that this is the best season of the show so far. I look forward to the possibility of a more evenly distributed season next year. And hopefully one that doesn’t end with a Bridget Everett performance.