I got to thinking about female television characters after reading Salon.com: Broadsheet’s commentary, “Carrie Bradshaw: Feminist Icon?” I recommend giving it a read whenever you get the chance, but basically: Writer Tracy Clark-Flory debates whether or not the character of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City (played by Sarah Jessica Parker, of course) can be considered a role model for modern-day women.
And then it occurred to me…Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey, of course) of 30 Rock has to be, truly, one of the best female icons on television right now.
Essentially, Liz Lemon is a lot like Tina Fey (except “more of a loser,” as Fey herself once said.) But they seem to represent the same concepts and ideas, and the similarities are obvious when comparing Lemon and Fey’s careers and histories. (For instance, Fey started out in improv in Chicago, and this is often mentioned on 30 Rock in regards to Lemon’s past.)
There are oh so many reasons why us women looooove Liz Lemon. She strives and struggles to “have it all!” as a creative writer, business woman, single woman on the New York dating scene, and a sometimes “clock-a-tickin'” wannabe mother. While jokes are made about Lemon attempting to “have it all,” she fairs pretty well, while also pointing out to us – comically – the hardships of a successful urban woman having to date, maintain friendships, and be respected as a boss and a professional.
Women say they can relate to Lemon because they “eat like her,” or are “dorky” like she is. Or they get nervous around men like she frequently does. We can relate to her. We see her at home, not made-up, hair a mess and lounging around in un-sexy sweats eating blocks of cheese late in the night. In fact, she’s a welcome relief with her eating habits. Because unlike the Sex and the City women, you’ll never find her ordering a salad. (But instead: a meatball sub.)
Liz Lemon may be what we call an “accidental hero”: She never really set out to become a positive role model for women, but she’s become one anyway. And she’s my personal pick for the feminist icon of the small screen. Hell, maybe even beating out anyone on the big screen at this rate.
She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s independent. She’s not perfect. And she’s like us. What more could you ask for in a fictional feminist icon?