Huge news in the world of comedy: Director Paul Feig has announced the four stars of his upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, and they are funny. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon will play the four leading roles. This is not a surprise: The fact that the main cast would be all-female was announced long ago, and Feig—director of Bridesmaids and The Heat—clearly likes making movies with funny women at the center of them. But it is still a big deal, given that the original Ghostbusters had an all-male cast and Hollywood is still a hugely sexist industry that underutilizes women’s talents.
The reaction to this casting news is also a big deal. A lot of people are stoked. Look at the reactions under Feig’s original tweet, for example: It’s a sea of “OMG” and multiple exclamation points. The comment section at Jezebel, which is frequently overwhelmed by grumpy dudes griping about how women are too full of themselves, was a sea of excited GIFs at this announcement. And the excitement is not just about some quota being filled. These women are genuinely pee-in-your-pants funny. Melissa McCarthy was made to play the Venkman role, as Bill Murray did, walking the line between creepy and charming.
The casting, and largely positive reaction to it, is also yet another reminder of how far we’ve come from the dark days of 2007, when Christopher Hitchens managed to provoke an actual debate over whether women are funny. The subsequent years have firmly answered the question: Of course they are, and the only reason that hasn’t always been abundantly clear is because women have not been offered as many opportunities to show their skills. But now those opportunities are coming down the pipe more frequently: everything Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are doing, Saturday Night Live’s new female-centric cast, Broad City, Girls, The Mindy Project, and now this reboot of Ghostbusters. You could be excused, in 2015, if you start to wonder if the real question is why men aren’t as funny as women.