Somewhere in New York City a feminist revolution is brewing. Gemma, a fashion magazine entrenched in the oppressive patriarchal structure, has fallen, and from its ashes, third wave feminist magazine Vag Magazine has risen. (Gemma‘s assets were acquired by the proceeds of Vag co-founder Sylvie’s Etsy shop selling reusable maxi pads — and the only buyer was her dad, but shhhh — don’t tell anyone!) Want to be a better woman? Don’t worry. The staff of Vag will tell you how, even if they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
Vag Magazine is a new web series that premiered at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater last week, and it follows a group of NYC hipsters who launch a fictional third wave feminist magazine. The ladies of Vag are ambitious and energetic – but they are also arbitrary, capricious and grossly incompetent. Hilarity ensues.
The series stars Kate McKinnon from LOGO’s The Big Gay Sketch Show as Bethany, one of the founders of Vag, whose ex-girlfriend Jaybird runs a rival feminist magazine, C–t. When your aggressive and bratty ex runs a competing magazine, things cannot and do not go well. The absurd antics of the scatterbrained editorial board and clueless staff only feed the mayhem. (One editor, Fennel, decides that feminine hygiene products are creations of the patriarchy and opts to sit on a bucket during “that time of the month” instead – even at staff meetings.)
Kate McKinnon (R) and other cast members perform a skit at the screening between episodes
The sole voice of reason, Meghan, a holdover from the defunct Gemma, is routinely berated by the others. Watch as she is dressed down by the Vag editorial board for introducing skirts for the spring fashion spread that aren’t “feminist enough.” Just what is “feminist enough” you ask? Why vintage skirts with anchor motifs of course! (Say what?)
Co-creator Leila Cohan-Miccio said that the idea behind Vag Magazine “sprung out of [her and co-creator Caitlin Tegart’s] frustrations with a lot of third-wave feminist magazines.” Continued Cohan-Miccio:
Though Caitlin and I are both feminists, we were sick of opening these magazines that were theoretically feminist, but mostly just stories about crafting and, you know, breaking news like "Photoshopping models is bad for women." Vag Magazine‘s attitude is really summed up by Sylvie in the first episode when she says that "Feminism is about women doing whatever they want." There’s this attitude among some — though certainly not all — third-wave feminists that any choice made by a woman is feminist. Maybe not so much.”
From a less political perspective, though, Cohan-Miccio said that she and Tegart “really just wanted to write a series where the incredible female performers we know could make huge comedic choices.” And the series definitely delivers in the LOL department. At the screening, the audience frequently broke out into peals of laughter. Many of the plotlines and comedic tools are patently ridiculous, and they are endearing and authentic. One character, roller derby champ Heavy Flo, can barely construct a coherent sentence; her musings must always be translated by another character before the conversation can continue.
Even if you’re not versed in feminist discourse, think that second or third wave feminism might have something to do with Curl Girls, or fully dissociate when fancy words like "patriarchy" escape someone’s lips (like myself for example), Vag Magazine is accessible and refreshingly un-pedantic. Vag Magazine is, at its heart, a workplace comedy. If you’ve ever held a job in your life you’ll recognize the over-eager intern/sycophant, the boss whose vision is often far less than 20/20 but no one calls her out (except one, who is routinely dismissed), and co-workers who don’t seem to bring anything to the plate except exhale carbon dioxide, which, in the grand scheme of things, perpetuates the circle of life, but doesn’t help when it comes to launching a viable business venture.
Usually when feminism or feminists are lampooned, it is done with a misogynistic bent, but this series was created by feminists for feminists, and it is definitely on the side of the angels. Super absorbent angels with wings that is.
Check out the first episode of Vag Magazine right here on AfterEllen.com.