When I woke up this morning, threw on yesterday’s sweater, walked to the fridge, and went straight for the cheddar cheese, I had a revelation: I am Liz Lemon. That’s right, 30 Rock’s lead character and Tina Fey’s alter ego, Liz Lemon. Slovenly, repressed, emotion-eating, verbally abusive Liz Lemon.
For me, it’s been a long, hard road to Lemon-hood. She’s definitely not the TV character I thought I’d end up like. That honor goes to Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Now, you would think that anyone who was shooting for fun, fabulous Carrie and landed on uptight, miserable Liz would be disappointed, but somehow, I’m not.
While Carrie was the leading TV feminist of yesteryear, Liz has stepped in to take her crown. Both ladies, successful, New York-based writers, would seem likely idols for me, someone who dreams of being a successful, New York-based writer.
But the list of similarities quite abruptly ends there. Carrie’s life is a whirlwind of fun and romance. She lives in an impossibly beautiful apartment in the most posh Manhattan neighborhood, always has an exciting social event to attend, and most importantly, has three best friends to lean on, rain or shine.
But how does she afford that apartment and all those Manolos on a newspaper columnist’s salary? How does she have time for daily brunches with the girls and nightly dates with New York’s most eligible bachelors?
As time went on, these little holes began frustrating me. Why is Carrie always whining? Can’t she see her life is perfect? And how do Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha stay so patient as she goes from self-induced drama to self-induced drama? Frustration turned to anger. Why won’t Carrie ever shut up? Can’t she just suffer a terrible fall and impale herself on her own stiletto?
Disillusioned, I then suffered through a dark period during which I began to doubt the very wisdom of modeling myself after television characters. Until Liz Lemon came along and led me into the light.
Lemon’s life is in shambles. Her apartment is filled with half-completed projects and fully emptied take-out tins. The only aspect of her life she has any control over is her work; Liz is the head writer for an NBC sketch comedy show. Her days are spent babysitting its stars: the narcissistic Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and the insane Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), famous film actor and star of hits like Who Dat Ninja? and Honky Grandma Be Trippin’. Liz’s only support comes from her boss Jack Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin, though half the time she ends up playing nursemaid to him too.
Instead of the glamorous Mr. Big, Liz’s longest relationship was with Dennis Duffy, the Beeper King and exonerated Dateline predator. While Carrie’s out at the newest club, Liz is at home, wearing a Snuggie and eating Lean Cuisine while watching Top Chef. Carrie’s a modern woman trying to have it all, Liz is a modern woman discovering that having it all is impossible. Despite her wacky antics, there’s a great truth at the heart of Liz Lemon that’s entirely missing in Carrie Bradshaw. With lettuce in her hair and two pairs of Spanx under her dress, Liz is wholly loveable and entirely relatable. Carrie’s a fantasy; Liz is part of the real world. Which is why I’ll feel no shame later this evening when I’m lying in bed in my sweats, eating mac and cheese while Hulu-ing it up with the latest episode of 30 Rock.