Like a buxom diner waitress who's secretly slipping strychnine into the desserts, the third season of Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer cheerfully serves up its generous, sugary helpings of lethal satire to a hungry, trusting, and unsuspecting clientele that really should be larger.
So what if the ratings aren't much different than they were? Schumer's coming-out party feels imminent. Later this summer, she's starring in the Judd Apatow-directed comedy Trainwreck, and as Variety's Andrew Wallenstein noted on May 10th, this year the mass media finally sat up and took notice of her brilliant, disarming persona and the stinging, perceptive humor it serves.
For years Schumer has been poking at familiar subjects from unfamiliar angles by exploiting the contrast between what she talks about and what she looks like. No matter how often she tries to convince the world she's not a pretty girl, she remains a size-six knockout — as one of Inside Amy Schumer's strongest sketches points out, Marilyn Monroe was a size eight — whose body of work often strikes you as gross and crass before it strikes you as wise and funny.
Yet to discuss or even acknowledge Schumer's beauty is to plunge penis-first into two unavoidable traps. The first trap involves the idea that her talent depends on her appearance. This, of course, isn't true; nobody's pointed out that the younger, thinner Louis CK in Louie's opening credits looks very different from the bearlike left guard gone to seed with the red goatee bumbling through the ups and downs of season five. Nobody said Orson Welles lost talent because he gained weight.
Someone probably would say something if Schumer put on too many pounds, though — and that's when the second trap is sprung. Her talent and opportunities don't depend on her looks — unless she's in the entertainment business, where they always have and always will. As a multi-talented female stand-up comic, she is forced to confront absurd, demented ideals of femininity and sexuality every day whether she wants to or not; could any multi-talented male stand-up comic say the same? Ironically, outside of the entertainment world Schumer might be the perfect woman — smart, funny, gorgeous. Inside the entertainment world, she's a porcine, rabbit-toothed abomination with an infuriating ass whose every utterance is further proof that modern science still hasn't found a cure for a woman's mouth.
"Milk Milk Lemonade" and "Girl, You Don't Need Makeup," Inside Amy Schumer's pair of season-three viral-hit music videos, are catchy sing-along assaults on similarly ridiculous feminine-beauty standards. However, two longer sketches disguised as pop-culture parodies are even better: "Football Town Nights," which explores the whole male-dominated "can rape be funny?" brouhaha by linking it to America's obsessions with football, family, and winning; and "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer," an episode-long parody of Sydney Lumet's preachy legal drama wherein Paul Giamatti, John Hawkes, and a bunch of other pug-ugly dudes debate whether Schumer is hot enough to appear on television. Imagine it as a studio-executive summit and feel the burn. Underneath all four of these sketches runs a strong, clear river of rage that, if you can see it, is actually quite lovely.