Since 2002, Adult Swim has proven itself a haven for daring, experimental programming, giving a national television audience to writers and artists whose work might otherwise have been confined to the dark corners of the internet. In many ways, Adult Swim has propelled TV into the 21st century, especially in terms of humor. But there is at least one area in which the network is noticeably lagging. As revealed in a Splitsider article by Megh Wright, there are currently no shows on the Adult Swim TV roster created or co-created by women. This surprising and disappointing truth came to light last month, when the network unveiled its lineup of specials, returning series, and new shows. In an era when inclusion is a priority across the board, it didn’t take long for journalists to do the math: All 47 series creators were men.
Does this mean that Adult Swim is a boys’ club whose inductees hate and fear women? Not exactly. Women make up 43 percent of the network’s audience, and writers have praised the complexity of some female Adult Swim characters, such as Summer Smith from Rick And Morty. The network points out that some of Adult Swim’s streaming series are created or co-created by women. That’s a start, right? Right?! Wright isn’t buying it. “A livestream isn’t a television show, and when we have to bend the definitions of ‘television show’ and ‘creator’ in order to find women on that upfront announcement, that’s a problem,” she writes.
The article posits a “Goofus And Gallant”-type relationship between Adult Swim and Comedy Central. The latter is the home of Broad City, Idiotsitter, Inside Amy Schumer, and other female-driven comedy programs. “Most networks can’t hold a candle to what Comedy Central has done for women comedy show creators,” Wright points out, “but there are still signs of progress on all fronts except Adult Swim.” Ouch. Looks like the network has some work to do.