Iliza Shlesinger serves feminist undertones in ‘Elder Millennial’
Cameron Sumner | Wednesday, September 12, 2018
“Guys, I’m about to take a giant ship,” Iliza Shlesinger opens in her most recent Netflix comedy special, “Elder Millennial.” Her fourth show — set aboard a ship — begins with her announcement to the crowd that she is engaged. Sharing that she’s thirty-five, Shlesinger also explains she is an “elder” millennial. And so, with some authority, she begins a string of commentaries, looking back on her single years, intertwining feminist undertones into her hilarious thoughts on dating and how it feels to be a woman in this day and age. “Elder Millennial” is a perfect funny watch for all college students, but especially women, because of Shlesinger’s sublime blend of humor and poignancy.
As an engaged woman, Shlesinger jokes that stray singletons now ask her, in not-so-subtle ways, what her “secret” is. She paints the image of being cornered in a Trader Joe’s full of hot women buying flowers and frozen yogurt. According to Shlesinger, what these ladies have in common with most others is they wrongly assume there is any sort of special magic to finding “the one.” She blames this on the female fantasy that a man will somehow pick you out of a crowd of girls who generally look exactly the same. The falsified and-then-I-saw-her moment suggests a level of effortlessness that simply doesn’t exist. Shlesinger describes how girls put out vibes of being so “carefree” when really it’s an orchestrated act of posing like peacocks. She says we are coyotes who stuff our paws into our heels, but then walk around safely in a pack of coyote friends.
Shlesinger also calls out the archetype of the shy, unsure girl. She notes the strong, independent girl gets the Jonah Hill of the movie, while the quiet girl in the corner gets Channing Tatum. No hate on Jonah Hill, but it’s true that we see this “damsel in distress” glorified again and again. According to Schlesinger, men, like lions, would rather go for the gazelle with the broken hoof who doesn’t understand basketball than the gazelle who “[owns] her own home and has a PhD.” Shlesinger aptly states that “whatever kind of woman you are, you are right. That’s it.” However, if you are indeed that shy girl, you don’t want a guy to pick you out of a crowd saying, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice you look terrified.”
Shlesinger then claims that while every hot girl knows that she’s hot, we’ve been trained to say we’re “not even trying.” Girls don’t want to admit that they’re dressing up for men, but Shlesinger makes the case that “it’s normal to want to be noticed by someone you find attractive.” Society tells us this should feel wrong. These are only a few examples of how Shlesinger uses comedy over and over again to note the plethora of reasons for which women are faulted and misrepresented in our society, to hilarious and thought-provoking ends. Watch “Elder Millennial,” and you’ll see how even feminism can be funny.