Photo Credit: Anita Bugge/WireImage
Ever since 30 Rock premiered in 2006, we've thought of Liz Lemon as the most relatable fictional woman on primetime TV. As Liz, series creator Tina Fey plays a refreshing departure from the two-dimensional females (vapid blondes, harried moms, wisecracking grannies) on so many sitcoms. She's a smart, successful, self-deprecating funny nerd of a girl, who's navigating love, work and friendship -- just like the rest of us!
Basically, any woman worth her late-night cheese binges would love to call Lemon a friend. Or so we thought.
Fey may be at the top of her game -- with a hit movie (Date Night), a sexy Esquire magazine cover and seven Emmys to her name -- but a backlash is brewing among once-loyal female fans. Dozens of editorials and blog posts have recently been accusing 30 Rock's writer-producer-star of getting famous by promoting a "loser single girl" stereotype. Critics say that Fey plays on the worst female stereotypes, from jokes about Liz Lemon's facial hair to last weekend's SNL-spoof-ad-gone-viral "Brownie Husband," and women shouldn't take it anymore.
On Wednesday, Salon.com printed a fierce rebuttal to Tina Fey's critics, pointing out that she never asked to be a feminist icon -- she's a comedian who's just doing her job, and doing it better than most men. We would add that Liz Lemon is one of the smartest, most complex female characters in comedy, and that in itself is a big leap for feminism. But why do we women feel the need to tear Tina Fey down just when she's reached the height of her career?
Maybe it's because, as women, we know that it's nearly impossible to have it all. We make hundreds of choices a day to maintain the delicate balance between career and family, sanity and sacrifice. Then someone comes along like Tina Fey, who appears to have everything: beauty, brains, good marriage, cute kid, fabulous career. We look at her and feel an almost compulsive need to find something wrong with her. It's too much pressure to try and be a Tina Fey, or an Angelina Jolie, or a Hillary Clinton, when most of us are just barely keeping it together. Picking these women apart until we find an Achilles heel, a fatal single flaw, is oddly satisfying.
But in the end, we're doing ourselves a big disservice. Not even Oprah Winfrey can meet all of the impossible standards women set for themselves. And not even Fey, Hollywood's designated "smart and funny" girl, can bear the entire burden of feminism. We need to learn how to celebrate our victories instead of obsessing about our flaws. And a woman who rules a predominantly male industry while raising a child and making us laugh? That's one victory worth celebrating.
- Watch our exclusive VIDEO interview with Tina Fey and Steve Carell
- Happy Homecoming! Tina Fey Hosts SNL
Do you agree or disagree with the backlash against Tina Fey? Chime in below!