Are Gen Y Women Poised To Take Over Comedy?

Kaling and DeschanelThis Sunday, Rebel Wilson hosted the 21st MTV Movie Awards, becoming the first female host since 2007 when Jessica Alba took on the task.  During the course of the night, she also won “Best Breakthrough Performance” and “Best Musical Moment” awards for her role as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect. With a slew of movie roles in the last three years, and rumors of a television show being built around her in her future, Wilson could very well serve as a symbol of a larger shift happening in comedy: the takeover of the Millennial female. 

Looking at the past generation, male Xer comedians like Adam Sandler and Will Farrell, who often were born out of the SNL family, would carry huge franchises and movies with huge fan followings. It seems that Gen Y is not following that pattern. Vulture is wondering where our next male comic superstars are, but they might just be looking at the wrong gender. Instead of male comic headliners, we have a rush of Millennial female helmed comedies like New Girl, Girls, 2 Broke Girls, and The Mindy Project taking over the airwaves. Many of the Gen Y female stars in these shows are also writers or producers of their content, setting the stage for Gen Y female comedians to become the major Hollywood power players of their generation.

A quick rundown of recent TV comedies provides evidence that Gen Y female comedy stars are currently building their empires in Hollywood. Polarizing comedian Whitney Cummings had three different shows on the air in 2012, co-creating and executive producing 2 Broke Girls on CBS, creating, exec-producing and starring in Whitney on NBC, and also starring in her own talk show on E!. 2 Broke Girls, of course, stars two more Gen Y female comic actresses. Meanwhile, Zooey Deschanel doesn’t just star in (hugely Millennial popular) show New Girl

 
 

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“Art is basically my job and I enjoy it so much.”—Female, 15, MD

Snap is making its “biggest move” in scripted original content, teaming up with NBCUniversal and the Duplass brothers for their next series. The Duplass-owned creative studio Donut will produce original series for Snap shot in vertical video. NBCU and Snap will also be opening a joint digital content studio focused completely on mobile-first entertainment, “formaliz[ing] their partnership” and putting Snap firmly in the producing/original content creation camp. Snap’s mobile-only approach is part of a movement to shake up how we view videos—in fact, they’re calling their offering “a fundamentally new medium.” (THRTechCrunch)

Eggo frozen waffles are capitalizing on their unexpected Stranger Things’ fame. The brand has seized the marketing opportunity of being a part of one of Millennials & Gen Z’s favorite shows, tying themselves into Netflix’s Super Bowl ad, creating a special toaster for select fans, and swarming New York Comic Con with people dressed up like Eleven armed with “watch party kits” (aka “waffles and a microwavable syrup server”). To prep for the premiere of season two of the show, Eggo is sending out a fully-loaded food truck for the red carpet premiere, and going all out on social media to connect with fans. (MediaPost)

More teens than ever have severe anxiety, but why? The American College Health Association found a 12% increase in undergrads reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 2011 to 2016, and several studies concur that “there’s just been a steady increase of severely anxious students.” Social media is part of the problem—constant like-monitoring and cyber bullying isn’t helping the most stressed generation to date. There’s also an increasing (and constant) perceived need to over-achieve. One psychology professor observes, “There’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college.” (NYTimes)

Ypulse research has shown that 88% of Millennial parents are trying to avoid helicopter parenting—but they might not be able to help it. The constant media storm of global atrocities and everyday stories of parenting gone wrong combined with advertisers’ willingness to fear-monger, results in a generation of (understandably) anxious parents. It doesn’t help that the tech to constantly monitor kids is easily available (albeit pricey)—from drone surveillance meant for the military to devices that track “blood-oxygen levels all night long.” One relationship therapist sums up, “Everyone is having a hard time drawing a line and just figuring out what’s reasonable versus what’s over-protective.” (Refinery29)

Brands are turning college students into mini-sales forces. Aerie, Victoria’s Secret Pink, and Express are just a few of the many brands that have a program for college campus reps where students receive swag, experience, and other perks for helping bring brand awareness to their colleges. Though brands don’t always require social posts, most ambassadors do share their swag on social, bringing organic ads to their friends’ feeds. The biggest draw is that social posts from reps “[come] across as natural, authentic, a product that they would normally use or want to talk about.” (Racked)

“[Celebrity] can mean anything nowadays and it's a rather diluted term; from YouTube star, to someone on Instagram with millions of followers, to reality TV dopes, etc.”—Male, 30, WI

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