"Gentlemen, raise your hands if you think that Amy Schumer is not hot enough to be on television."
Every generation gets the hero it deserves. The suffragettes had Susan B. Anthony. Women’s lib had Gloria Steinem. And we have Amy Schumer, whose streak as feminist comedy hero continues unbroken with this pitch-perfect parody of 12 Angry Men.
The episode-long sketch perfectly captures the way men’s casual judgments about women’s appearance sound to women — while still being goddamn hilarious. Schumer does what she does best, by taking the subtext of our sexist society and turning it into text in the most in-your-face way possible. Anyone with eyes and a television can guess that the entertainment industry treats women's looks as their most important characteristic, but Schumer's characters go ahead and state that rule out loud, making it both funnier and impossible to ignore: "It's an undisputed fact that a woman's value is mostly determined by her looks."
Twelve male actors, including Jeff Goldblum, Vincent Kartheiser (a.k.a. Mad Men’s Pete Campbell), and comedian Chris Gethard, whom you may recognize from his recent turn as the "meninist" activist on Parks and Rec, gather to do their civic duty by debating whether Schumer is hot enough to be on TV.
The initial vote is nearly unanimous: 11 vote "not hot enough," but one brave soul holds out. Could she be hot enough for TV? He’s not sure. And so we are treated to a further 17 minutes of debate over the "evidence."
"Does she give us a ‘reasonable chub’?"
"Can we talk about facts, please? You're all talking about opinions. But there are facts that tell us — objectively — that this woman is not appealing."
"I'll give you facts! She's a filthy whore-mouth! ... That's not hot!"
They consider the crime scene: why would a "supposedly hot and fuckable girl" need a dildo like the one discovered in her dressing room?
"The dildo," they argue after it is brought into the jury room, "is pretty good evidence no one will pork her."
But slowly, the wheels of justice begin to turn: one by one, the men in the room begin to change their minds. The holdouts bully the men who admit they might find Schumer hot enough to produce a "reasonable chub."
And in this way, the parody captures the pressure that men face to publicly adhere to traditional standards of attractiveness — how the same norms that insist women be "fuckable" end up policing masculinity, as well.
One juror triumphantly pulls a matching dildo from his own pocket and proclaims it's something he uses with his wife, who is fuckable. (Kumail Nanjiani's character's response: do you just carry that with you, in case a dildo-based argument breaks out?)
Another references Natalie from The Facts of Life, who was not conventionally attractive. But, he bravely proclaims over the other men's jeering, when he was young he fantasized about having sex with Natalie and then "falling asleep with my head in her lap."
The tide suddenly turns. Kartheiser's character admits, under pressure, that if he left his glasses off and just saw Schumer's generalized "blondness," he might at least consider "a few exploratory tugs." Giamatti, previously a leader of the "not hot enough" faction, breaks down in tears when he realizes that he has not only a "reasonable chub" but a "full chub."
In the end, the jury finds Schumer "hot enough for basic cable." When the judge tells her the news, she stands up, face shining with pride and relief, and marches back to the jury room to get her dildo.
But of course, a man still needs to have the last word. The male judge watches Schumer leave, then speaks contemplatively to the camera.
"I'd give that ass a four."