Chick LiteralLiz Lemon And Carrie Bradshaw Might Be The Same Person, And They Have Both Let Me DownAndrea Greb

The imminent end of 30 Rock has made me very nervous about losing one of my television role models, the one and only Liz Lemon. No longer will I have Liz’s exploits and pearls of wisdom to look forward to every week. (Her advice about putting potato chips on a sandwich is no joke. I did that over Thanksgiving with my usual turkey/cranberry/stuffing leftover sandwich and OMG, it is so much better with the chips.) Useful food tidbits aside, there’s something comforting about having a character you identify with carry on with her life every week; when things work out for her, you feel like they might just work out for you, too.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve lost a TV role model. Many moons ago, I lost my ability to watch Carrie Bradshaw make questionable decisions, week after week. For better or for worse, Liz and Carrie have been some of the defining influences of my young adulthood, which got me to thinking…they might be the same person. You’ll scoff, I’m sure. One is a shoe obsessed, boy-crazy flake, and the other is a food obsessed nerd. One popularized (at least for me) the use of the word “lovah,” the other only likes the word “lovers” when it’s between “meat” and “pizza.” And yet, I present you with the evidence that these ladies are one and the same:

  • They are both writers. Yes, one is for a newspaper and the other writes for a TV show, but nonetheless they share a profession.
  • They both live in New York City. This one might be a bit of a cop-out, since approximately 50% of all television is set in NYC.
  • Both are best friends with a self-absorbed blonde. (Samantha’s “I love you, but I love me more” line from the SATC movie seems like it could have been a direct quote from the one and only Jenna Maroney.)
  • Both have dated Dean Winters.
  • Both have dated guys from Mad Men.
  • Both got married after 40, thereby deeply disappointing me.

This last one, of course, requires some explanation, as I am a self-professed lover of the traditional “happy ending.”  Yet it really bothered me when Liz got married in last week’s episode. Both Liz and Carrie are initially feminist characters; single women making it on their own in the big city, with no need for a man. Yet as the seasons of their respective shows wear on, both characters eventually give in to the societal norm of settling down with one man, presumably forever. It was certainly disappointing that neither of these shows could offer an ending where a character carried on by herself, independent and happy.

It’s not just the “marriage as a happy ending” I have an issue with; it’s also who these characters end up married to. On one hand, we have Carrie, who marries an older man, the incredibly wealthy and successful Big, the kind of man who can say things like “It’s our house. I bought it for us.” On the other hand, we have Liz, who ends up with a younger guy, the earnest but barely employed Criss. I know these are just TV shows and I shouldn’t be reading so much into them, but it bothers me that neither of these strong female characters ends up with a man who seems to be her equal; they must take care of someone, or be taken care of. It just troubles me that these shows that were so feminist in so many ways, ultimately fall back on traditional stereotypes. If shows like these allowed women to find a happy ending without a husband, I feel like it might become a more viable-feeling option in real life. Then again, if my television role model is leaving me, at least it’s on a positive note. If Liz Lemon really can have the job, the home, the husband that looks like James Marsden, and a sandwich, then maybe there’s hope that the rest of us can have it all, too.

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  1. An example of what I think you are looking for:
    When Gilmore Girls wrapped up, I was so impressed and excited about the way it ended. Rory did not marry the guy she had been dating all throughout college. Instead the series ended with this smart, beautiful girl going off to her next adventure on her own. We got to see the fear of doing that but also the drive that a person can have to accomplish things. It could not have ended better! It was not saying at all that she never would marry…instead it showed she had aspirations other than being married and she was following that. Anyways, that was what came to mind when I was reading about your disappointment.

    • I think that also shows an example of the woman ending up with her equal…Loralei and Luke. They had their ups and downs but he was there when she needed him but never held her back or tried to change her (except with maybe her diet but even he knew he’s never win that one).

  2. Agreed 100% with Jennifer Dinsmore’s comment. You needn’t be a spinster to be a feminist today.

  3. Hmm… While I agree with many of the points in this article, it also really bothers me how “single and free” is held up as the ideal for a woman and getting married or being attached to someone is somehow seen as unfeminist. Do women need men/marriage to ‘complete’ them? Hell, no! Is the ideal mate is someone that allows us to be who we are and doesn’t try to take care of us, or vice versa? Of course! But to imply wanting to get married as unfeminist just does not sit well with me. I am in my mid twenties and have been blessed enough to have found someone who treats me as an equal and encourages me to not define my life around our relationship (as I do him). I am not yet ready to get married, but I do know I want to someday. Why can’t we reframe marriage as a simple celebration of a couple’s love for each other instead of seeing it as an outmoded tradition designed to “trap” women?

  4. GIRLS on HBO is the answer!