Tina Fey: Married Lady's Revenge

What Women Really Think
April 12 2010 2:28 PM

Tina Fey: Married Lady's Revenge

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Jessica , something snapped in me, too, watching Tina Fey this weekend on Saturday Night Live . It occurred to me that she could get away with those skits if she were actually Liz Lemon-a single woman with a wicked sense of self-mockery. But she is Tina Fey-a fabulously successful, married woman with a daughter. So her obsession with the pathetic single woman is just starting to feel a little mean. You ask what she’s trying to say: Is she just being prudish and judgmental? In her interviews she is definitely hard on Playboy bunnies, bare midriffs, and our oversexed culture in general-but the single types she portrays are the sociological opposite of bunnies, home alone every night making out with chocolate brownie men.

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The only generous explanation I can think of is that this is the married lady’s revenge. Her domestic existence is staid and dull and provides her with no comic material. (Her Vogue interview has a riff about whether she’s allowed to be funny at home.) All her funny juice comes from her single days, when her life was free and wild and full of adventure, and she secretly resents that. So she creates an ever-more-extreme version of pathetic single lady, whose adventures always go south. Amy Poehler’s character on Parks and Recreation , Leslie Knope, does some version of this, too. Poehler is also married with children, while Knope is perpetually single. Each week Knope dreams up some feminist fantasy involving her winning some women’s award or entertaining foreign dignitaries. And the fantasy always crashes on her. But it crashes in a gentle way, leaving Knope’s earnest, endearing self intact.

Photograph of Tina Fey and husband Jeff Richmond by Peter Kramer/Getty Images.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

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