Very recently I moved in with a roommate who attended Wells College during and after the school became coed back in 2005. She tells stories of sit-ins and lawsuits, a buttoning-up and a shift in the traditions that had been upheld with the all-female student body for 40+ years. She also made mention of the web of sexual encounters that predates The L Word‘s infamous chart, the stuff lesbian coming of age stories are made of.
But that’s for another day and FINGERS CROSSED at least one story arc in Tina Fey’s yet-to-be-named sitcom that was snatched up by Fox earlier this week.
While I wasn’t privy to the trials and tribulations of a liberal arts community torn apart, I did apply and was accepted to an all-women college in my hometown but chose to hang out in the women’s only dorm at the University of Wisconsin instead. In that time I faced my own major life milestones, struggled with my identity within the evolving constricts of an institution and, well, engaged in a number of sexual encounters that would at the very least be worthy of a blip on the ol’ chart. The only thing I could ask for, aside from having had those experiences, is an outspoken and wildly liberal television writer to come along and change the landscape of television by writing those characters, those stories and those experiences into primetime television.
The bright side of a story about a women’s college trampling all over feminism is the fact that Fey caught wind of it. See, Fey is a comedic genius in that she is able to genuinely respond to oppression with humor, as opposed to, say, resentment or martyrdom. Her method is effective in that it makes a dialogue palatable and brought us both Liz Lemon and Mean Girls to which we are all undoubtedly indebted to her for. She has proven herself able to touch on universal experiences, from discrimination to chauvinism, bullying to conformity with a complex and relatable sense of humor, her ability to laugh at herself giving her work the ultimate power. It is that power that was the overwhelming backbone to the spirited and intelligent funniness in Mean Girls and why everyone steps over themselves to be more “Liz Lemon” than their friends.
Tina is to the largely male-dominated world of comedy writing as Ellen is to the largely male-dominated world of stand-up comedy, and their manner of addressing the difficulty in both provides both the voice to the issue and the content for the humor itself. We all know that it must have been difficult for Fey to forge her way into a comedy writing career, mostly because we all read Bossypants (or should have) but also because each of her characters represents a different aspect of her struggle. If it were up to me, I would let Tina hold the reigns on all shows dealing with coming of age, sexism and coping with the fact that life is often times hard but until then, I can think of no better voice to tackle the awkward sex, politics and gender issues that go along with a coed integration of an all girls-school.
Not only am I salivating with anticipation for the aforementioned women’s college comedy, but also due to the fact that it is the second project the Bossypants writer is involved with this development season. Earlier this week NBC bought an untitled female-driven workplace pilot by a young female comedy writer that will be the first project from Fey’s production company, Little Stranger. The project, about a woman reconnecting with her estranged father and finding a new home and family on Fire Island, is backed by a number of 30 Rock alumnus including writer/producer Colleen McGuinness and co-showrunner Robert Carlock.
With two female-centric shows slated for the upcoming season, or as I am calling it, the Total Tina TV Takeover, Fey has created the promise for what could be the best ensemble cast since, well, Orange is the New Black or a new spin on the tired workplace comedy. One thing is for sure, no matter the outcome of the shows, Fey is already a feminist icon as her characters have encapsulated our generation. I’ll tell you what, if feminism plans to be the breakout star of the fall line-up, I for one am glad that Tina Fey is at the helm.