If Bridesmaids had to be directed by a dude, we're seriously glad it was Paul Feig.
He recently told WSJ's Speakeasy blog: "I'm a pretty feminized geek, you know? I have that point of view, I grew up around a lot of girls, so I'm pretty sensitive to that. But I don't dare say ‘I know how women think.'" It shows.
Here, some of the many reasons we love him.
He loves us back.
Many male writers struggle with lady characters—everyone from James Joyce to Judd Apatow has had their failure to flesh out females publicly criticized. Paul never had that problem. He is the creator of Freaks & Geeks whose lead character, Lindsay Weir, is one of the great female TV characters of all time, and who also happened to be Paul's personal favorite to write, he recently told the AV Club. "I always feel that women get short shrift in movies and TV and all that," he added.
Lindsay is a high school junior who has become disillusioned by her perfect suburban life and starts to question everything around her. She's the smartest person in the school— arguably the smartest person on the show—but is not always happy with the decisions she makes. And that's just it—she makes decisions, complex ones, and handles the consequences of them. She has agency, ideas, a strong will and a strong heart. She is a young Murphy Brown without the alcoholism—she is the grown up Lisa Simpson without the heaps of family dysfunction.
He lets women be funny.
Feig and Apatow have collaborated throughout their careers, but the latter doesn't have a great track record in female humor when Feig's not involved. The women in Knocked Up suck the fun out of everything, and the hilarious ladies of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Jane Lynch) and Funny People (Aubrey Plaza) got very little screen time. The tendency in movies like these, and in most funny films starring women, is to make the humor about men. Lynch's character is hilarious because she wants to deflower Steve Carrell; The Sweetest Thing—a raunch comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate-is purely about women hunting for and snagging dudes. In reality, the funniest women out there (Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Maria Bamford, etc) have a lot to say about the world that has absolutely nothing to do with men, and when those subjects are given screen time the movie/TV/webisode stops being "we're just dudes with vaginas because male humor is more relatable" and becomes women being funny in their own right.
With Bridesmaids, Feig went with a script written by Kristen Wiig and her best friend Annie Mumolo, and then let a fabulous cast of actresses improv along the way. Of the friendship between Maya Rudolph and Wiig's character, Feig says, "Women seem to love it because they're really talking like women. I'd go, 'Okay, talk about sex right now,' and we got to throw in some joke and ideas, but they would take it and make it very real, and it feels like the way women talk when guys aren't around."
He directs the best TV shows.
Not only did he create and co-executive produce Freaks and Geeks, he did the same for The Office and Nurse Jackie. He's directed episodes of 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, Weeds, Mad Men, and Bored to Death. If you're not a fan of one or more of those shows, then you are reading the wrong article and possibly the wrong website.
Bonus: As an actor, he's had recurring roles in It's Gary Shandling's Show, The Louie Show, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (Admit it, you loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch.)
He's not doing all this for props; we believe him that he genuinely loves this stuff. He also told the AV Club, "Selfishly I want to keep making movies like this with strong female characters that aren't just in service to the men in the movie. So all that combined to make me feel very invested in it."
So basically this man is a media hero and the way to repay him is by seeing his damn movie.
Related: Paul Feig Interview [AV Club]