Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sour Puss

Everyone thinks I HATE Tina Fey. How could I? She's bright, she's funny, she's adorable. But finally a television critic has taken a five-minute break from kissing Fey's (lovely) ass to address what I've been saying all along about her Liz Lemon character on "30 Rock": "Ms. Fey plays a satirical version of herself and seems miscast in the part."

Alessandra Stanley explains it this way:

But the other striking thing about the new season ... is the acting limitations of its star and creator, Tina Fey. Ms. Fey is one of the funniest comedy writers on television and a gifted mimic (Sarah Palin), and she is at her worst playing a comic version of herself.

When they star in their own semiautobiographical television shows, the best comedians play an exaggerated caricature of themselves, notably Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but also Ray Romano on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show.”

Ms. Fey isn’t as convincing, or as funny, playing Liz Lemon, perhaps because the hapless single head writer of a late-night sketch comedy show doesn’t track as a comic distortion of Ms. Fey. She has surrounded Liz with a menagerie of wonderfully silly and original characters and is reluctant to play their straight man. Liz’s foibles -- she dresses badly, is a junk-food glutton, can’t get a date -- are the kind of flaws that thin, beautiful actresses affect because they think it makes them more approachable. None of those traits seem natural to Ms. Fey or plausible for Liz.

You may still disagree with me, but I sure feel vindicated.


Matthew said...

You must be right since there are now 2 of you.

BW said...

Sure, until the corrections start arriving.

Jimmy said...

Though I'm not a regular watcher of "30 Rock", in this time when there is a dearth of actually funny sitcoms, this one is so solid because it is an ensemble of great characters. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than an ensemble show. Fey and Baldwin have great chemistry and that goes a long way, overriding Fey's limitations as a thespian. After all, it is a sitcom, not "Hamlet."

kansastock said...

She might have mentioned Barbra in anything that she also directed... but then, that might have been understood globally already.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Touché, Matt. We're not counting the other 304,056,725 Americans who aren't watching it either, right?


Anonymous said...

The show is not about Liz Lemmon, Kenneth.

30 Rock's comedy is closer to the structure of Seinfeld than Curb Your Enthusiasm. I'm sure Tina is incredibly comfortable with letting Alec get all the best lines (since she probably wrote some of them!).