Sugar and spice and everything nice isn’t really Sarah Silverman’s thing. And something tells me knowing that she upset a critic isn’t going to change her wonderfully wicked ways. But Variety critic Brian Lowry is full of helpful suggestions. The writer has been taking serious heat for his review of Silverman’s upcoming HBO comedy special, We Are Miracles, and in particular for his commentary on her signature cosmopolitan approach to comedy, equal measures of put-on preciousness and effortlessly savvy, ascerbic vulgarity. Fellow comedian Julie Klausner tweeted and called his review regressive, and Nathan Rabin of The Dissolve dismissed Lowry as “sexist, clueless & condescending.”
In the Variety piece, Lowry notes of Silverman that “she’s limited herself by appearing determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys.” And, as the blog HappyPlace rightly pointed out Lowry made incredibly similar, almost identical, criticisms of Amy Schumer’s comedy. So someone has to say it– does he have a problem with vulgarity or with women?
“Comics often impress each other with that kind of bawdy fare (see “The Aristocrats”), but Silverman frequently seems to be playing more toward those peers and a loyal cadre of fans than a broader audience that’s apt to be turned off by the questionable stuff, which feels more about shock value than cleverness.” ~ Brian Lowry, Variety
“This isn’t meant to suggest that female comics can’t work blue,” Lowry assures. “The lament here is that in the wrong hands it can feel gratuitous or become a crutch, whereas unlike many of her contemporaries, Silverman has enough tools that she can and should do more.”
But in addition to using the same cookie-cutter lady comic critique, Lowry even went on to somehow comment on New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Maureen Dowd in the Sarah Silverman piece, both for being a fan of Silverman and about her writing.
“As it stands, Silverman still has admirers like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd,” he wrote, “who recently wrote a column in which she essentially just palled around with the comic – even soliciting advice for Hillary Clinton – for reasons that, like a lot of Dowd’s random pop-culture-related musings, must have made sense to her.” What’s the fine line here between reviewing and trolling?
Is Brian Lowry just a critic enthusiastically doing his job, or misguided misogynist with a byline? — Casandra Armour