Will Ferrell’s production company starts division for female comedies, but does the label help or hurt?

News surfaced today that Gary Sanchez Productions – that’s Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy – will establish a production division in charge of developing female-centic movies. The new arm of the wildly successful company will be lead by Jessica Elbaum, who’s been with the company for years.

Ferrell and McKay had this to say about the move: “When Jessica came to us with this idea, we thought it was fantastic. She has worked with some of the great female voices in comedy and has proven herself as a gifted producer who has a keen eye for material.” Indeed, Elbaum is more than qualified for the job having helped produce Anchorman 2, The Other Guys and Casa de mi Padre (among others). And she’s already working on Welcome to Me, a dark comedy starring Kristen Wiig and Sleeping with Other People, starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Sudeikis

So here’s my question: Why not just promote the well-deserving Elbaum and let her make the movies she wants? Why do we need to label the production house’s intentions? I’m totally down for more comedies starring strong female leads and injecting a good dose of gender equality into funny flicks. But when you create a special space for women to be funny – even if the goal is positive — doesn’t that further cement the idea that women should be treated differently in the world of comedy?

You’d have to be constantly high (or Brian Lowry from Variety) if you haven’t noticed, that in the last few years, women are killing it in comedy—onstage and in television and movies (both onscreen and behind the scenes). And they’ve been killing it alongside penis-owning producers and comedians. I applaud Gary Sanchez Productions for formally realizing that women and men are equal. But one of the first things you learn in any sort of storytelling training – whether it’s for film or for the page – is to “show, don’t tell.”

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Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor emeritus of Laughspin.

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