Tina Fey is on the list: According to NY Daily News, Fey is a potential replacement for David Letterman, the late night comedic anchor who recently announced his retirement from “Late Show” on CBS. The coveted time slot has been held by Letterman since 1993. While I’ve always thought it would be cool for one of the late night talk show hosts to be a woman, I also recognize that every late night talk show host needs to have the support of the audience – something that until recently, few female comedians have possessed.
Then there’s Tina Fey. Her undeniable success with “30 Rock” changed the landscape of television for female writers and leads.
Thinking about being the (negative) female stereotype to have a voice. I hate that woman. And sometimes I am that woman. And either way, it really grates at me. It bugs me when I’m at a convention and I see a woman in a bikini (barely if at all related to anything geeky) selling a product…and it bothers me when I’m LARPing (live action role playing) and my character has to rely on males to make sure she doesn’t die because other males are out to get her. I mean really, ‘booth babe,’ and really, me the LARPer, do we have to be that way? Are we just luring other people into believing that this is acceptable – or are we setting it up so we can then break a preconceived notion of womanhood?
“30 Rock” confronts this issue, particularly in the “TGS Hates Women” episode (Season 5, Episode 16). In the episode, Liz Lemon hires a noted feminist writer Abby Flynn (Cristin Milioti) after her show receives criticism for being potentially misogynistic. The writer, however, appears to be doing a ‘sexy baby girl’ act – though it is later revealed that she changed her appearance and mannerisms to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend.
The episode was especially controversial as it mirrored a real-life issue. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels like a typing contradiction every time I try to tackle this topic here on a blog about ladygeek culture.
This leaves Liz confronting the same issues women see every day. Are we supposed to comment on and nurture other women who are playing into these stereotypes? Do we play into them ourselves? These are the perspectives I’d like to see considered as a small part of a late night talk show format.
How involved am I “allowed” to be when it comes to gender equality? “30 Rock” confronts this. While Liz Lemon does confront standard issues faced by women – office politics, working in a male-dominated field, balancing work and personal life – she’s one of those cisgendered-straight-educated-white-privileged-upbringing kind of women that get accused of speaking out on feminist issues when others have it tougher.
And sometimes that makes such a female writer wonder: yeah, this is my experience – but do I have a right to just put it out there without interviewing 10+ women who have different experiences than me?
Fey’s show not only acknowledged this apprehension, but poked fun of it and showed that even though Lemon has some advantages compared to others, she still has struggles. The fact that Fey explored and acknowledged this shows that she has the potential to respond to and discuss these matters – and it would be great to see her do that in a talk show format.
So I can do everything I want to do in life…right? I was raised to believe that I can have a career and a family and get it all done in time. Why not? I mean, I’m totally amazing, because my mom said so. And like many other women who are now 40 and younger, we really want to believe our moms were telling the truth, especially since some of our moms pulled it off. However, it’s pretty challenging.
This is something Liz Lemon discovers throughout the series. Sometimes she needs to put relationships (and not just romantic relationships) first. Other times work comes first. And sometimes work and relationships smash together and one will be hindered if the other is not resolved. I so relate, LL.
The thing is, after all the tough work first and second-wave feminists have done to ensure that we can do it all, we almost feel guilty when we don’t want to or cannot achieve it all. It’s a super strange feeling to have, but Liz Lemon gets it.
___Warning: Spoiler Alert ____
Liz and Jack. Jack and Liz. Can men and women just be friends? At first, I shipped it so hard; Jack (Alec Baldwin) was so handsome and powerful…but as the series went on, he got pretty ugly. Part of the show’s brilliance was in the way Jack and other characters dismissed female characters or casually mentioned misogynistic items without any resistance or contradiction – a commentary on how neglected (and accepted) this behavior is in real life and in male-dominated industries. But of course the more he casually did that…the less I wanted him to have anything to do with Liz romantically. In the end, I’m glad it was the ultimate BROTP. The most powerful man at the company wasn’t the goal for Liz – and it was very refreshing to realize it.
These values and this voice should have a place not only in comedy but on late night television. Ultimately, it depends on what demographic exists for “Late Show” – and what kind of demographic they could carve out by adding a female comedian to the late night lineup.
- GeekFeminism.org: Ladies celebratin’ ladies
- Jezebel: Tina Fey On The Message Of 30 Rock’s Joan Of Snark Episode
- FLOW: I Can Have It All: Liz Lemon Negotiates Power, One Sandwich at a Time
- NPR: Doing The Work: What ’30 Rock’ Meant For Women On Television
- Genders: Feminism, Postfeminism, Liz Lemonism