Inside Amy Schumer is back with a boisterous, wise, and funny season premiere that confirms Schumer is a comic working at the peak of her powers. “Last F*ckable Day” is a powerhouse episode, with explicitly feminist cultural critiques carried out with a palpable affection for the culture they prod apart.
The opening sketch is a twerk video parody with frenetic energy. “Milk Milk Lemonade” combines Schumer’s sharp eye for the inherent absurdity of objectifying women’s very human body parts with the obvious joy she gets from over-the-top pop confections. The video, which features cameos from Amber Rose, Jemima Kirke, Amber Tamblyn, and Method Man, is a genuinely catchy cascade of visual puns. Riffing on a butt-obsessed culture has been done, but the unabashed silliness and escalating scatological references are perfect. Schumer dons cornrows and a grill and mugs with Method Man, a nod to the cultural vampirism of lily-white pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. Schumer should win another Peabody Award for convincing Rose to rap “You say you don’t like asses because I fart and break your glasses”.
“Last F*ckable Day” gets its name from a sketch with another twisty take on a topic female actors are fed up talking about: The way aging affects their marketability. While hiking, Schumer stumbles upon a strange meadow-based wine-swilling Goddess brunch attended by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette, and Tina Fey. They’re celebrating Louis-Dreyfus’s “last f*ckable day,” the final moment she’s deemed sexually viable by Hollywood. Considering how some of Schumer’s other female ensemble scenes (like season one’s “Compliments”) have devolved into grotesque violence, when Louis-Dreyfus boards a rowboat on her final day and Tina Fey approaches up with a flaming crossbow, it seemed like the sketch was about to take a sharp turn into a macabre Viking funeral. But no: The joke is, she’s just rowing the boat home, and aging is a stupid thing to worry about. These women aren’t denying that the fetishization of youth is a limiting factor in their careers, but they’re not letting it define them.
This sounds heavy for a comedy show, but it’s so deft that it’s a dreamy confection, not a confrontation. Schumer’s sketches are pointed, but not pedantic, even when they go dark.
Keep that in mind when reading this next statement: Inside Amy aired one of the most brutal takedowns of rape culture ever in this episode, wrapped in, of all things, a Friday Night Lights parody.
To do a Friday Night Lights parody at all, over four years after the series finished airing, could read as an obscure move, but Friday Night Lights has quietly wriggled into a special Netflix-fueled pop culture touchstone position over the years. “Football Town Nights” is funny as hell just on the strength of Schumer’s gleeful, unhinged Tami Taylor impression; the increasingly large glasses of wine and her little Tami arm wave are killer. But the loving ode to Connie Britton’s ageless verve is just icing.
Friday Night Lights is a humane, thoughtful show about relationships and small town life, and a show about jock culture that never forgot the dangers of the glorification of high school athletes. Still, its teenage athletes were almost uniformly decent people who respected women. The deviation in this sketch tips the parody into something sharper and darker. Inside Amy reimagines the show through an off-kilter, crueler mirror and turns it into a scathing satire of sports hero-worship. Coach is still squinty and insistent on dragging his players towards decency, Tami is still optimistic and fond of saying “y’all.” Except instead of meditating on the perils of small-town athletic machismo, “Football Town Nights” takes the dangers of a boys-will-be-boys attitude of jock culture to its logical conclusion and has all of the football players utterly incapable of comprehending that rape is morally wrong.
Schumer brings back Josh Charles to impersonate Kyle Chandler’s stoic Coach Taylor, and he’s perfect as a man deeply befuddled by how nobody understands why it’s bad to rape people. (Not perfect enough to forgive him for leaving The Good Wife, though. Never perfect enough for that.)
The choice to satirize Friday Night Lights is not particularly timely, but the subject matter that this sketch is exploring is as relevant as ever. It was just this year Vanderbilt University football players accused of participating in a rape blamed campus culture for their actions. Schumer’s decision to skewer jock culture as a rapist breeding ground is sly precisely because it’s padded by the fun of sending up a beloved show. It doesn’t soften the blow so much as serve as a sucker-punch when it’s clear what the sketch is really about. “How can I convince you guys that football is not about rape!” Coach yells. “It’s about violently dominating anyone who stands between you and what you want.” He’s unable to explain how to win at football without resorting to rape analogies.
This episode was so strong that there wasn’t time to discuss its solid standup or its incisive birth control commercial parody. Oh well. It’s a good problem to have, and Schumer is off to a remarkable start.
- When I saw Amber Rose and Amber Tamblyn in that music parody, I immediately wondered if they’ve ever discussed the time Amber Tamblyn catfished Tyrese into thinking she was Amber Rose by sending him a bunch of fake rap demos. God, I hope they did.
- “Amy Goes Deep” continues to feel like it could be spun out into its own show. Schumer’s interviews are candid, and mostly she asks thoughtful questions but sometimes she asks questions that veer into the potentially offensive. This episode, she interviews a trans woman about her experiences, and the exchange is honest and warm and I’d probably watch an hour-long show of Amy interviewing people she likes.
- I’m wondering if I’m giving Schumer too much credit by assuming she is intentionally skewering white appropriation of black culture (specifically twerking) in “Milk Milk Lemonade.” Amber Tamblyn appears in an animal onesie that’s nearly identical to the one Cyrus twerked in, which leads me to believe it’s a deliberate nod. But Schumer made some missteps with racial humor last season so I’m less confident than I want to be here in that assessment.