Proof That Jane Austen and Amy Schumer Would Have Been Friends

Jane Austen would have appreciated Amy Schumer’s blockbuster summer rom-com Trainwreck. With its flawed protagonist, who alternately feels superior to those around her and unworthy of love, the film draws on themes that could have come straight out of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. Like Austen, Schumer knows how to give the people what they want: girl meets boy, conflict and misunderstandings arise, but ultimately romance wins out. Less obviously, both Austen and Schumer share a penchant for feminist comedy that calls into question the traditional premises of the heterosexual love story.

The American R/Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Activist Grace Lee Boggs is finally getting the national attention she has long deserved, thanks to a new documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, airing tonight on PBS’s POV series (and then streaming on POV’s website from July 1-30). At age 99— her birthday was this past Friday—Boggs is still going strong. If you’ve never heard of this extraordinary woman, the film will bring you up to speed and make you want to learn more. If you’re already an admirer, you will love spending 90 minutes with her.

The Case Against 8: Love Conquers All

This time last year, the nation held its breath waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on two major marriage equality cases—and on June 26, 2013, SCOTUS declared both the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. In the months since that decision came down, support for marriage rights for lesbians and gay men has continued to grow, as ban after ban gets struck down, and couple after couple says, “I do.”

Moms and Mr. Moms: Funny and Smart

Calling all Comedy Central junkies, SNL fans and lovers of The Colbert Report: If you care about the history of comedy, then you need to know about Jackie “Moms” Mabley, and unless you’ve done your humor homework, chances are pretty good that you don’t. Moms Mabley (born Loretta Mary Aiken) was one of the biggest comedy stars of the 20th century. Over her 60-plus years career, she was billed as “the funniest woman in the world,” a title she fully deserved. 

Serious Laughs: Laura Linney in “The Big C”

In the opening scene of The Big C, a new series that premiered this week on Showtime, suburban schoolteacher and mom Cathy Jamison (played by Laura Linney) wears a bright, strained smile. It’s the people-pleasing, trying-to-be-nice smile that many women put on when they try to negotiate for what they want. In this case, Cathy really wants a swimming pool–in spite of the small size of her yard and the contractor’s point that there’s simply no room for one.

The L Word is Back–For “Real”?

Showtime’s new series The Real L Word follows the success of the scripted TV series, The L Word, which ran on Showtime from 2004 to 2009 and garnered a passionate following. The reality version is produced by L Word creator Ilene Chaiken, along with Magical Elves, the team that brought us Project Runway and Top Chef. It boasts of being the “first gay-themed reality show on premium cable” (I guess they’re not counting Logo, which broadcast the surfer-lesbian show Curl Girls in 2007, as “premium”).

Joan Rivers: Still Opening Doors for Women Comics

Joan Rivers gives new meaning to the expression, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” In the just-released documentary  Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work from directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, time is a dominant theme. Cinema verité footage of a year in the life of the groundbreaking comedian, interspersed with archival material, shows Rivers rushing nonstop to stay one step ahead of a clock that keeps ticking. She squeezes more into one year of filming than most people could fit in a lifetime.