It’s the Year of the Tina — But Not Because of Sarah Palin


TINA FEY has received as much televised coverage this fall as our U.S. Presidential candidates — all while 30 ROCK hasn’t even re-aired yet. She’s also finally starting to get some backlash, which is always a sign that you’ve truly made it. With the show’s third season premiere tonight after a six month hiatus, Fey is at the top of her game, unmatched by any other woman on TV.

But is it all hype or does Fey have the comedic chops to back it up? Flavorwire contributor Neena Hayreh tackles the myth of Tina Fey after the jump.

It’s undeniable: portraying SARAH PALIN has advanced Fey farther into the limelight of television sets and Internet streams and small talk nationwide than anyone could have anticipated — even if some viewers aren’t taking too kindly to her portrayal. Have these people ever watched SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (incidentally, the show where Fey was the first female head writer) before? Are they not familiar with the sketch comedy protocol of parodying politicians? Have they seen AMY POEHLER’s HILLARY CLINTON OR DARRELL HAMMOND’s Bill? How about WILL FERRELL’s Dubya? We’re still ignoring FRED ARMISEN’s Obama.

But we digress.

We have to say, the way Fey captures the folksy mannerisms and gobbledygook of the Alaska governor has almost helped us understand why the hearts of the GOP are melting over such a gosh-darn adorable VP nom…well, not quite. But it does point to an interesting overlap between the women — they’re both advancing their careers by playing the cute, non-threatening card. Sure, we find Fey’s geek chic more palatable than Palin’s overbearing hockey mom, but at the most basic level they’re reading from the same playbook.

Luckily, Fey isn’t cute all the time. Her satirical wit and candor have led to the award-winning success of her TV baby, 30 Rock. Alongside a cast of unconventional and ego-crazed colleagues, whose eccentricities range in severity (we’re looking at you TRACY JORDAN), Fey’s straight man LIZ LEMON presents an oasis of sanity in a crazy sketch show world and makes the series’s unconventional back drop work for viewers — something that AARON SORKIN failed miserably at with STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, though an hour-long drama format didn’t do him any favors.

Fey’s quirky and cutting Lemon is not only highly amusing, but relatable (well, perhaps only to those gals who have STAR WARS memorized and pick up knitting once in a while). She strives for assertive composure, but can’t avoid the tendency to self humiliation — like a modern-day Lucy Ricardo who is making the show, not trying to sneak into it. Take the “Cougars” episode where Liz dates a twenty-year old and avoids revealing her actual age until he invites her to a party she doesn’t want to go to because it’s in Brooklyn (“I’m thirty-seven. Please don’t make me go to Brooklyn”). Her unhealthy obsession with sandwiches, babies and JACK DONAGHY makes her interesting and flawed — unlike most leading ladies.

Plus Fey made MEAN GIRLS, which we love. And she’s really humble. It’s hard to hate that.

So tonight, forget your “McGrey’s” and your “Ugly-But-Pretty-Inside Betties” — or an actual social engagement — and tune in to see more of Fey in her element, out from under the moose-killing shadow of Palin.

Yes, the awesome impersonation made her a flavor of the moment and will hopefully bring in some much-needed new viewers, but it’s the work you’ll see tonight that will ensure people are still talking about Fey this time next year.