As its branding suggests, Inside Amy Schumer Season 5 is very much a continuation of the Comedy Central series, rather than a revamp. Despite its six-year hiatus (and the political and cultural upheaval that defined this period), the comedy’s tone has changed little, and Schumer continues to highlight society’s many inequities in her sketches. While this schtick may have been progressive in the mid-2010s, the sketches in the first two episodes of Season 5 fall back on dated punchlines that fail to meet the moment — and hardly seem to recognize that the moment itself has changed.
It’s interesting that Inside Amy Schumer is so eager to copy-and-paste its previous sketches into a 2022 framework, because other aspects of the show are entirely left out. The first four seasons intercut sketches with footage of Schumer performing stand-up, Q&As with her co-stars and writers, and woman-on-the-street segments related to the overall themes of each episode. These bonus bits helped Inside Amy Schumer stand out from other sketch shows and served to refine Schumer’s comedic voice. But they’re nowhere to be found in Season 5, a decision that reinforces the unfortunate obsolescence of these five episodes.
Earlier episodes also ended with an extended “Amy Goes Deep” interview, in which Schumer sat down with people from all walks of life — including a dominatrix, a nun, and a six-year-old boy — to discuss sexuality and gender roles. These interviews were typically light on the comedy, as Schumer peppered her guests with questions and gave them an opportunity to educate viewers about their unique experiences, many of them unrepresented elsewhere on television. Running a four-minute “Amy Goes Deep” segment meant the episode had to lose a sketch elsewhere, but this always felt like a fair trade, particularly for a show so of its time. If you want to feel part of the current conversation, what better way than to start that conversation yourself?
Without new stand-up footage or “Amy Goes Deep” segments, Season 5 relies on quick, direct-to-camera interviews with Schumer & co. to fill time. These bits, sometimes as short as 10 seconds, comment on the previous sketch and offer behind-the-scenes intel, as when writer Sascha Seinfeld (yes, same Seinfeld) explains how her college experience informed a sketch about sexual assault on campus. Some of these asides are successful — in one funny bit, writer/performer Yamaneika Saunders reveals Schumer asked her to participate in a white lady “gratitude” sketch, but “Black women ain’t that stupid” — while others seem to acknowledge that certain ideas never quite came together. “The two words ‘Fart Park’ occurred to me,” Schumer says after a sketch featuring guest star Jesse Williams. “Like, ‘I don’t know what this idea is, but I knew the name was going to be ‘Fart Park.’”
Though these direct-address moments provide a much-needed break from the litany of unfunny, toothless sketches, they’re too short and too sporadic to feel like an essential part of each episode. In the past, Schumer’s stand-up and extended interviews offered bonus content worth looking forward to; now, we’re left with ad hoc bits that seem suspiciously like apologies for what we’ve just seen.
Inside Amy Schumer’s move to streaming makes the absence of well-defined bonus segments that much more surprising. Season 5 was produced for Paramount+, yet its 22-minute episodes are structured to fill a half-hour timeslot, with room for commercials. There’s no reason why Paramount couldn’t tack on a few “Amy Goes Deep” interviews or film new stand-up footage to spread throughout the five-episode run (Schumer has been on her “Whore Tour” since August). In this regard, Inside Amy Schumer Season 5 feels like a huge missed opportunity, and one that fails to recapture what made the first four seasons so much fun.
New episodes of Inside Amy Schumer drop every Thursday on Paramount+.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.