Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Friday, October 27, 2006

30 Rock and the City

Now that Project Runway and Flavor of Love have finished (well, one more must-see reunion episode of Flavor this Sunday), I'm not watching much TV, but I am, on a reader's advice, giving 30 Rock a try.

I like it, but the most recent episode (which you can watch here), while funny, basically lifts its entire plot from two episodes of Sex and the City.

(Spoiler Alert)

In this episode, Tina Fey freaks out about being a single woman after she nearly chokes to death alone in her apartment. Exactly like Miranda did in season 2, episode 5, "Four Women and a Funeral" (and similar to bits from "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Bridget Jones' Diary"). Yes, Alec Baldwin, who is surprisingly hilarious throughout the show, delivers some very droll lines about it, but Miranda staring down her cat after she chokes was exactly the same as the 30 Rock sequence, but funnier.

After choking, Tina acquiesces to getting set up by her boss, who accidentally assumes she's a lesbian. Exactly like Miranda did in season 1, episode 3, "Bay of Married Pigs." And they both toy with the idea of pretending to be a lesbian. Granted, Tina Fey being dumped because she's painfully neurotic was funny, but that was the only variation from the Sex and the City episode.

Sure, everything's been done before, but this was done very recently, in almost exactly the same way, on a show that spawned a thousand phoned-in trend articles and a million women aspiring to live the impossible dream. Considering that Tina Fey is on the record saying "I loved Sex and the City," maybe she should stick to workplace comedy, since the anxiety of Miranda's influence has proven a bit overwhelming.

Miranda playing dyke, or Tina?

The following feminist analysis of the choking episode is way dry and a bit clunky, but it's worth thinking about the politics of these shows.
In actively confronting the mythologies that stigmatize the single female household and the ownership of property by single women and exposing their irrationality, this [SATC] episode differs from mainstream chick flicks that tend to uphold such mythologies even while subjecting them to gentle comic treatment. For instance, in Sleepless in Seattle [1993] Annie’s (Meg Ryan) staunch insistence that the claim that a woman over forty is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married is "not true," is met with her friend Becky’s (Rosie O’Donnell) rejoinder, "But it feels true." ...

... Most often vehicles "for the propagation of a conservative social message of female accommodation to a reformed patriarchy," [sentimental female friendship films popular in the 1990s] tend to fortify patriarchal constraints through an identification system in which women’s shared experience of these constraints makes them appear inevitable and even rewarding. "Sex and the City" endeavors to value female friendship without capitulating to such social norms.
Unlike the SATC episode, which as always ended with an affirmation of how the gals' friendship would last forever, 30 Rock ended with Tina Fey making fun of some guy at a bar who hits on her after he overhears her getting 'dumped' by the lesbian. I don't know if that's subjecting stigmatizing mythologies about single women to gentle comic treatment. Does it propagate a conservative social message of female accomodation to patriarchy? If so, is there any way of depicting single straight women that doesn't propagate a conservative social message? I guess 30 Rock lacks SATC's 'sisterhood is powerful' theme, but instead it makes Miranda rather than Carrie the central character. Miranda as written by Woody Allen.


  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    You know waaaaaaay too much about Sex and the City.

  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I've only seen one episode of 30 Rock, but one key difference is that it didn't make me want to stab myself. Sex and the City made me ashamed to be human, let alone a white New Yorker. If Theodor Adorno is in hell, he is being forced to watch those twittering Narcissuses for all eternity, Clockwork Orange speculums holding his eyelids open while he moans something about prepared corpses and not-quite-successful decease.

  • At 5:50 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    but such cute outfits!


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