I've been listening to Tina Fey's book "Bossypants" on Audible lately. Like a lot of other people (massive understatement), I watched Ms. Fey on "Saturday Night Live" and thought she was great. Personally, I loved her even more when I discovered she was a writer on the show primarily. Then Ms. Fey (calling her Tina seems so impersonal, even though in my mind, we are already the best of friends and we laugh at our own inside jokes. Hey, Tina, remember that one time - right, sorry.) made several movies, created "30 Rock" and wrote "Bossypants." I found out she recorded it herself, instead of an established voice actor, and knew I'd have to check it out.
Maybe it's naive of me, but listening to the chapter on how tough it was for Ms. Fey at Second City, not to mention some of the critical backlash she received at SNL, I was surprised. Aren't we in the 21st century? Is there still that tired argument that "Women Aren't Funny?" I honestly don't get it. Do guys think Women Aren’t Funny because they can’t relate to women? If that’s the deal, then I say too bad. Because women have had to sit through comedy from men’s perspective since cavemen were making fart jokes.
Tina Fey is one of my favorite actresses mostly because she's a writer, but also because she is far from perfect. I love how unique and yet how "EveryWoman" she is - not the most beautiful, thinnest, Greatest Role Model Ever (looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow), but a snarky, funny, unafraid college girl from Pennsylvania who pursued what she wanted and worked hard. Talented, absolutely, but as far as I know, she didn't sleep her way onto SNL's writing staff (if she had, I'm sure she would have found a hilarious way to both comment on it and write a guide for the rest of us on How To Get Ahead at Work Through Sex).
I've noticed the same thing happen recently to Lena Dunham, an up-and-coming writer/director/actress of an indie film and of "Girls," a show on HBO. Dunham (we are not yet the best of friends in my head) receives more criticism for her weight and various tattoos than her show.
*Disclaimer - I've never seen "Girls", so I don't know if its good or crap or anywhere inbetween. I've wanted to check it out, but I'm not an HBO subscriber (I know, the shame). The previews I saw seemed interesting, though, and I was excited to see another woman writer break out (Woo, Girl Power! Spice Girls, it's all coming true!)
The most recent controversy I saw in regards to Dunham was over a remark in an essay she wrote - she commented "writing for money is weird." Apparently this offended people, especially in the (hushed deathbed voice) current economy. Why is this offensive? No clue. From what I read, it seemed like an offhand comment and she didn't expand further, so people are just taking this and assuming like crazy. If that's how she really feels, who cares? Maybe Ms. Dunham has wanted to write movies all her life and she still can't believe she's getting paid for it? Maybe she's in shock that someone would pay her over $3 million dollars for something that isn't even done yet? (Ms. Dunham wrote a book proposal that netted her 3.7 mil. Not too shabby for the fat, unattractive girl, internet snarks). For people to get their panties in a twist over a comment shows more about them than about Ms. Dunham - and since most of the articles giving her crap about it are written by other women, I think we can come to a conclusion. Bitches be jealous. Hey, girls, go ahead, be jealous. But don’t tear down another woman because of it – give her crap for poor writing or uncreative, awkward sex scenes. You know that shit could be so much worse and hilarious.
Criticism about a show itself (writing, plot, lack of diverse characters or character development) - sure. You can't be in the business and avoid criticism. But criticism in the guise of sexism (Fey and Dunham aren't funny because they're women, fat, ugly, blah, blah) - not cool.
My point wasn't to proclaim Fey and Dunham the Funniest Women Ever or declare Women Are Funnier Than Men. Hell, Tina and Lena (New comedy team!) are smart and funny enough to defend themselves and they have in various ways. I'm sure they couldn't give a shit and that further makes them awesome. No, the point is, Yes, women are allowed to be funny. No, not Allowed, even. Women ARE funny. Women are Fucking Funny. Its time for this to be acknowledged and for there to be different roles for all kinds of women. It's been time - we're so overdue, we're on a block table at the local butcher, cutting out our own comedy babies because we're sick of the idiot male doctor telling us, "The Baby will come out when its ready." Fuck you, doctor and fuck you, casting couches, producers, directors and studio heads. Bitches be Funny as Hell and, as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proclaim, We Don't Fucking Care What You Think.
I'm exhaustified of the put-upon, gorgeous, stay-at-home wife/mother, married to a stupid schlub on a "family" sitcom. I'm tired of the put-upon, go-getter, anxiety-riddled single career girl who really wants to get married and have a family, but is let down over and over again by a guy who cheats/chooses a career instead/doesn't want to get married stereotype. We are more than a sidekick, we are more than a vagina dreaming about fertilized embryos - just because I'm a married mother of two, that doesn't mean I want to watch a show about a woman stressing over the same crap I do everyday. I liked "Sex and the City" because of its escapist nature. But I also didn't secretly want to leave my husband and kids and run away to New York, buy a laptop, and start dating a 18-year-old while wearing clothes 10 years too young for me. I'm a fucking grownup (whatever that’s worth these days – thank you, reality television).
But I'm ready to enjoy more great shows, movies and books from awesome, funny WOMEN – not as a new Wave or Era of comedy. That implies that Women in Comedy is a fad and will be over eventually. No, this needs to be the beginning of a new normal – funny People making funny entertainment. If there's criticism about what they create, cool. But reading crap about who they are and why that sucks doesn't contribute a damn thing to comedy or entertainment or even humanity.
Now, back to my audiobook and checking my phone for imaginary texts from Tina and Lena (new comedy team! I'm telling you - call me, NBC!).