Monday, April 12, 2010

In Which I Write About Television

Or something. Actually, I'm not going to say much, since (as you may have noticed from the lack of posting) I'm incredibly busy right now. But I wanted to say that I find something a little odd about the pieces I keep reading by people who take 30 Rock personally. Or, to put a finer point on it, by people who seem to be reading way too much into the show. I don't think Tina Fey is out to mock single women in order to feel better about the dullness of her real-life marriage, or that we're actually supposed to think Liz Lemon isn't attractive (that's part of the joke!), or that deep-down the show promotes conservative politics.

The most bizarre example of this trend was Feministing's take on 30 Rock a few months back, in which the writer came so close to getting the joke:
The most frustrating thing about 30 Rock, an otherwise excellent show, are the constant references to the fact that Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon is ugly. The thing is, Tina Fey fits conventional standards of female beauty almost to a T.
That's why it's funny! The entire Liz-Jenna dynamic set up by the show is one big joke: Liz, who is constantly referred to as plain or homely, is naturally beautiful. But Jenna, the heavily made-up blonde TV star who always talks about her good looks, has that faded-beauty look to her: you can tell that she was attractive when she was younger, but her refusal to deal with her age gracefully means she always looks like she's grasping (unsuccessfully) for some of her past glory. Hence her absurd dismissals of Lemon's looks: that she could never be an actress "because of her neck" and so on. It's a joke. Maybe we should just laugh - and refrain from suffocating the show's humor with forced political readings of our favorite episodes. (Unless I'm doing a political reading. Then it's OK.)

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