I know that in Shakespeare, the definition of a comedy as opposed to a tragedy, is something that ends with a wedding instead of a death. I know that weddings are traditionally seen as happy endings. I just thought that, by 2012, for feminist characters like Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) on 30 Rock, there might be a different option. Or, as Liz Lemon might say, “blerg.”
I’ve always enjoyed 30 Rock, perhaps as much because Liz Lemon seemed to be the antithesis of characters from shows like Sex and the City as anything. In 2006, seeing a woman who lived mostly in cardigans and didn’t have a fabulous life was a really welcome change. And it was clearly established that Liz Lemon was not going to strap on Manolo Blahniks any time soon, and that was more interested in her job than she was in marrying Mr. Big. In the first episode, her new boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) sizes her up and declared:
“You’re a New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happy-about-it, over-scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover and every two years you take up knitting for … a week.”
You know what? That sounded great. That was incredibly refreshing. It was great that she was able to make it through entire episodes without ever talking about her romantic life. She had other interests! And unlike the wildly narcissistic, well, girls, on Girls or the adorkable women-children on New Girl, Liz Lemon always seemed like someone you might able to be friends with, despite her neurosis. She seemed like a grown-up woman, albeit, one with problems.
All that changed dramatically in the last season, when she met and decided to marry an amiable food cart owner named Criss Chros (James Marsden). After first trying to keep the wedding low-key, complete with a series of trademark eyerolls, Liz then she decides there is a part of her that wants to be a Princess. Her future husband pats her arm and replies ” “Liz, it’s okay to be a human woman.”
Umm, well, yes, of course it is. But she already was. Liz Lemon had a lot of problems, but that wasn’t one of them.
Now. There are certainly women who want big pretty gowns if they get married (I know I do). But there are also plenty of women who do not, and saying that “wanting to be a pretty princess” is a basic “human woman” impulse the kind of thing that Season 1 Liz Lemon would have rolled her eyes at. Hard.
To be fair, she did get married in her Princess Leia outfit. I take a good deal of comfort in that.