Thursday, February 21, 2008

Talking Tina

Why are we all bending over backward for Tina Fey?

Don't get me wrong. I like Tina Fey. I really do. She's a talented and seemingly lovely person. But what's up with the critics' raging hard-on for her? Nothing about her resume seems to warrant this reaction, yet for the past few years it seems like she's beyond reproach. I really haven't seen anything quite like it since the days of Johnny Carson, whom I can't remember having ever said anything remotely funny in his entire life. So before someone tries to hand Tina a Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday's Oscars (she did make one movie, you know), I feel compelled to be the first (and only?) commentator on record to ask: has the world gone a little overboard?

Consider this: She was the head writer and occasional actor on "Saturday Night Live" during many, many of its most horrendous seasons ever. You could argue that all of them are bad to a certain degree. But her tenure certainly didn't improve things any tangible amount. So why the hoopla?

I loved the one film she wrote ("Mean Girls") -- until a friend pointed out that it was shockingly similar in countless ways to 1999's Drew Barrymore vehicle, "Never Been Kissed." (Remember The Mathletes? Get ready for The Denominators.) Watch them back-to-back and tell me "Kissed" screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein don't have a viable lawsuit. (Hint of plagiarism = not funny.) People in Hollywood have certainly sued for a lot less.

And Tina's piece de resistance, "30 Rock"? Well, I'll admit that I haven't given it a full chance yet. But every time I try the way-too-precious, "no two people in the history of the world have every said anything like this" dialogue immediately turns me off. And while I suspect that if I just stuck it out and got to know the characters and the nuances -- like I did with "Juno" -- I probably would come around. But I didn't commit the time or 12 bucks to watching a television show, so I can always seem to find a better use of my time than talking myself into liking something just because a bunch of critics say how much I should. Oh, and did I mention I'm also the only person in the world who doesn't worship everything about Alec Baldwin -- I can't even stand looking at his bloated face, something a formerly hot female actress would be run out of town for looking like now -- and can't stand Tracy Morgan? (And despite winning every award under the sun, apparently no one else is watching it either.)

It makes it worse to say all this because my guess is part of the reason no one has anything bad to say about Tina's work is because there likely isn't anything bad to say about her. She seems like a doll in interviews. And it's easy to see that guys think she's cute -- yet "attainable." And girls think she's pretty, but not threatening pretty. (Whatever any of that means.) Tina is probably so much funnier, nicer and more real than most Hollywood types that she's a breath of fresh air to the reporters who cover the industry day in and day out. But people probably said things like that about Bob Hope at one time or another, and God knows his plaque is forever in my Hall of the Overrated.

So I say this: Tina's young and may well someday deserve all of the praise she's gotten. But she just hasn't earned it yet, baby.


Toddy said...

"She must suffer and cry for a longer time."

dan said...

I can't stand Tina Fey. I can't stand her because she so frickin' bland. And honestly, she is the one part of Mean Girls that annoyed me, the fact that she wrote herself the teacher part in a film in which ... the teacher really didn't matter.

I also hate it when people in Hollywood write about ... life in Hollywood! You know what? Not that imaginitive. And I don't consider a television show producer to be an everywoman character. You know why Tina? Because they make WAY MORE MONEY. Wouldn't she be making MILLIONS producing that SNL ripoff, or whatever it is on 30 rock? Yet she lives in an everyday gal apartment and goes through kooky problems and everyday gal would experience.

Actually, I shouldn't judge, because I've never been able to watch more than about five minutes of that show. But geez, she's just too bland. A scoop of Vanilla ice cream is way more dynamic.

Marc Lallanilla said...

Tina Fey is like the girl from high school who has to remind you every day of how incredibly smart and cute and funny she is. Trouble is, she's not really all that smart, or cute, or funny. And except for a handful of skits, SNL has sucked for years. Ten minutes of Gilda Radner is better than 5 years of the Fey one.

Matthew said...

I have to leave you hanging out there on this one—I just love her. I loved her on SNL in spite of not liking the show because I loved her news and her persona delivering it. Mean Girls was great (I don't recall thinking of Never Been Kissed, which was also a really fun movie, but I'll have to check) but really, 30 Rock is fantastic. I absolutely love it. If you sat and concentrated on like a whole season in a row (for some reason, it's a hard show to half-watch, I used to try and would just get frustrated), you might come around. LOVE HUH.

Anonymous said...

You really should watch the first season of 30 Rock from the beginning, and give it a chance to grow on you. It is funny, smart and endlessly quotable. Don't miss out on the fun just because other people around you actually like it! And the reason why mainstream America isn't watching is because they are too stupid to get the jokes. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Here's where we'll have to agree to disagree. Tina Fey is the funniest woman on TV and "30 Rock" easily the smartest, funniest sitcom in at least the last decade. I'd turn straight for her, that's how much she rocks.

H. Alan Scott said...

i think it's because she was the first female head write at SNL. She took that fame and turned it into an awesome show, "30 Rock." she's blazing through some comedy doors, letting the funny ladies not only have the show, but write, produce and create it. you know? think of another woman who created her own show, writes it and stars in it. the only other woman i can think of that did that in the past 20 years is roseanne.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying what I feel. 30 Rock is quite a funny show, but her years on the Weekend Update desk were mostly unfunny. During her time as headwriter on SNL, I can only count a few solid overall episodes.

And "Mean Girls" was just a watered down version of "Heathers", but not as funny or well-acted.

dan said...

If bland was an Olympic event, Tina Fey and Claire Danes would win be America's best hope for the gold. Hell, one of them would win it.

That being said, i am going to put 30 Rock on my Netflix queue and see if, perhaps, I might be wrong on this one.

Rikard said...

You devote too many words to Tina if all you feel is apathy. I'd say Tina's years were some of the best SNL has had. I was in high school when it debuted and have been a devoted fan through good and bad. I say prayers to Gilda and think Tina deserves the kudos she has so far. I hope she does more work and is further recognized. Here's my gripe, what grown man cares if the tween movie Mean Girls was any good? 30 Rock will prove over more than a couple of seasons weather it lasts or not, why pronounce it now? As for Tina's genius, two words "Col. Angus".

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Rikard --
Interesting point. So are you suggesting works for youngsters aren't protected by intellectual property rights? If I'm not allowed to mention that this comedic "genius" seems to have stolen heavily from another movie then please look for my new series of "Larry Kotter" books early next year!!!

Anonymous said...

You said what about Johnny Carson?!! Pistols at dawn, sir!!

Anonymous said...

Tina Fey is brilliant and when pair with Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock, it's more than we mortals deserve. I agree that SNL wasn't too good during her reign but right now, she's delivering - what more can we ask? I also thought Mean Girls was great and actually get to live it everyday as my boss runs our office on the premise exemplified in the movie. Let me assure you, it's much more fun to watch than to participate in (or have inflicted on you).

dan said...

How dare you! I am coming out with a "Hoary Plotter" series of children's novels next year, you hack. No one lifts from me, not even Tina Fey.

Speaking of which ... I though "Mean Girls" was a bit more like Heathers. And what was with that HORRID blonde wig that Rachel McAdams was wearing.

I wonder if the movie would have still been successful if Lindsay Lohan hadn't "developed" porn star boobs overnight? The only thing I can remember from that movie was Lindsay's new Lohans from the ads, the bad wig and that Lacy Chabert from Party of Five grew up to be really cute. Not to say that Tina's not a genius.

Lady Hooligan Kat said...

I completely disagree with you, Kenneth. I love 30 Rock, and Tina Fey is definitely deserving of all the praise!

Anonymous said...

Tina Fey is way over-hyped. But she was the best thing going on SNL for all those years. The sketches were awful, but Weekend Update with Tina & Jimmy Fallon was appointment television. When she left SNL, Update became unwatchable again. So kudos to her for that.
"Mean Girls" was ah-ight (liked it better when it was called "Heathers") and 30 Rock, never seen it. Don't plan to.

Bradmo said...

I have to join the naysayers on this one K.
I actually metered out my TiVo'd 30 Rock's to get me over the strike. I still have one left.
It's definitely the highlight of my TV week, and always supplies at least one laugh out loud guffaw.
I still haven't seen Mean Girls but it's in my queue.
SNL has certainly been hit and miss over the years, but I attribute it more to the cast than the writers. I think SNL history proves that great writing can't overcome mediocre actors.
We are usually in sync on pop culture, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.