This is not a post hating on Amy Schumer. This is not a post about how she looks or who she is or her lifestyle choices. This is not about judging her.
Are we clear about that?
Because I refuse to be lumped in with the truly heinous trolls, misogynists and online abusers who greet everything she does with the most foul vitriol.
THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS IS.
But in the same way I can love Reese Witherspoon and hate her movie Hot Pursuit, or love Oprah but not love her Lindsay Lohan documentary, it is possible to hold two different thoughts at once about someone's work. And today, here are mine:
- I love Amy Schumer. I love what she stands for. I love how successful she is. I love the barriers she breaks down with her work and her body and her social media. I love her TV show and I love Trainwreck. I loved her first standup show, Mostly Sex Stuff.
- I hated her latest Netflix standup show, The Leather Special. Hated it.
This is why: I think she's smarter than that. Funnier than that.
Mia, Jessie and Monz discuss Amy Schumer's Netflix special on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after audio.
To me, the show felt tired and lazy. Five minutes in, I found myself Googling "how old is Amy Schumer" because I felt like I was in a timewarp hearing her talk about her life 10 years ago.
I wasn't shocked by the sexually explicit stuff. Please. Do you know how many sealed sections I edited in my magazine life? And if you watch her TV show - I've gobbled up every season of Inside Amy Schumer - and seen her standup before, none of that is shocking.
And that's the problem; the jokes felt old and like they belonged to someone else's life, not Amy Schumer's. Not any more. All the stuff about getting so drunk she blacked out at home and wasn't that hilarious (no)? The stuff about her vagina stinking "like ISIS' and feeling desperately sorry for any man who went down on her? The stuff about being lazy in bed or having diarrhoea in a small hotel room with her boyfriend?
None of this is new or interesting or fresh. It felt phoned in, like the jokes that were rejected for her character in Trainwreck.
Or, as TV critic Lorraine Ali wrote about The Leather Special in the LA Times; "the dirtier it gets, the less daring it feels. Part of the problem is that she doesn’t drop in enough context from her life of late, and the material feels like it could have come from a set three years ago."
What makes it so puzzling as to why she went this way with the show she wrote and directed is that she is a brilliant, brave, feminist comedian who is able - when she wants to - to bring a fresh take to an old topic.
Her music videos about anal sex and men who say they love it when their girlfriend doesn't wear makeup and her sketch about "Last Fuckable Day" are iconic. Amy Schumer (and the writers on her TV show, including the dazzling head writer and EP Jessie Klein) has delivered us some of the most hilariously biting bits of commentary on our culture and women in the past decade.
So what went wrong?
There are some interesting moments in The Leather Special. Her bits on gun violence are really clever and fresh. That's when she's at her best, making you laugh about something you could never have believed is remotely funny. And in the humour of her gun bit - just like with Last Fuckable Day - there is searing, powerful truth.
And this is where it's so disappointing. So much has happened to Schumer since her last standup special. So many life-changing events that I would love to hear her uniquely comedic take on. She's become hugely famous and rich (she refers to this in the first line of the special, “Don’t know if you guys know, this but this past year I’ve gotten very rich, famous and humble,” but never explores it further or refers to it again).
She's fallen in love and is in a long term relationship - again, something she refers to briefly but only as a hook to tell tired jokes about their sex life and what it was like to get food poisoning together while in Paris.
She's become a major Hollywood player - her film Trainwreck, which she wrote and starred in, was a huge hit and she's just finished another movie with Goldie Hawn after writing yet another film with her new BFF Jennifer Lawrence. What's all THAT like?
Listen to Mia, Jessie and Monz on the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud here:
Instead, it's the comedy equivalent of reheated pizza.
Today, she is saying the alt-right rigged the system and left bad reviews for her on Netflix and online, just like they have with all her other projects, dismissing the criticism as a conspiracy by haters:
I have no doubt what she writes is true. I'm sure those hideous haters and misogynists have done their best to wreck havoc and silence a smart, funny, opinionated woman who isn't size zero and would like some better gun laws.
However, to suggest they're the only ones who didn't like her show for reasons that have nothing to do with her show and everything to do with her is naive.
There are many of us - myself included - who didn't like her show in spite of the fact it was hers, not because of it.
And I hope once the dust settles she can reflect on some of that feedback and use it to fuel whatever she does next. Because there are a millions of us who don't want her to shut up. We can't wait to see what she does next.
Have you watched The Leather Special? What did you think?