I’ve never considered myself a couch potato or a TV addict, but in my adult life, I find myself often taking the role of television aficionado – offering up suggestions to friends looking for the latest “it” show. My rolodex (figurative, not literal, because no one has those anymore…) of friends can thank me for giving them Community, Parks and Rec, Breaking Bad, The League, Party Down, Homeland, and Downton Abbey, to name a few.
Sidenote: if you are not watching all of the shows named above, quit reading this and go watch them all.
With my long list of television loves, it might be hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say my “comfort food” of television has always been 30 Rock. My college roommate, Katy and I used to watch episodes over and over before bed, neglecting our term papers and some weekends just staying in and watching Liz Lemon do her thing instead of hitting up the hot frat parties (in the end, I think this made us better people and not shut-ins).
I’ve always adored Tina Fey and to be honest, I’d love to have an ounce of the success that she’s had. Plus my bestie, the aforementioned Katy, is the blonde, perky Amy Poehler to my Tina Fey, so it works out well. In watching 30 Rock, aside from being entertained and watching some of the most layered and expert comedy in the history of television, I noticed similarities between Ms. Lemon and myself. Furthermore, as more friends started watching the show (at my urging and insistence), the comments came in about me being such a Liz Lemon. And I was cool with it.
Liz Lemon and I, we’re cut from the same cloth: We have an undying attraction to food. We like flannel pajamas. We have an impressive amount of sweaters. We have wavy hair that on good days is attractive and on bad days looks like we got electrocuted. We are often unnecessarily expressive. We have successful mentors, who don’t quite get us, but know us better than ourselves at the same time. We thrive on crazy. We are perpetually single. We have a major thing for Jon Hamm. We are always trying to have it all.
However, I am not completely delusional and know that we are also different: I am not a successful television comedienne, nor a successful television comedienne on TV based on said successful television comedienne. I am not near 40. I have never run on a treadmill drinking white wine while singing Alanis Morissette on the phone (yet). I have never accidentally roofied someone (nor intentionally roofied someone for that matter…).
I don’t remember where I saw it, but there was once “An Open Letter to Girls Who Think They’re Liz Lemon,” or something like that online. It basically called out girls for obsessing over how similar they were to Liz Lemon. The fact that I can’t find it now makes me think that this dude was mauled by a group of Lemonheads (a name for the community of girls who act like Liz Lemon, which I just came up with…). While his goal was probably to get back at an awesome lady he once dated, his comments did spark some thought in me, so he wasn’t a complete waste. Is it wrong to live life in a similar way to a television character?
Unequivocally, my answer is no.
Whether the similarities in our lives to the gals on TV are coincidence, intentional, or somewhere in between in our subconscious, we are emulating traits and characteristics that we respect and admire. The ladies before us were called “Murphy Browns” if they were career-driven and independent, or “Elaines” if they were neurotic singletons. And I know we all hate it, but no one with two X chromosomes can admit to never wondering if they were a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda.
I realize with this endorsement will come the judgment of, “What if young girls watch Jersey Shore and want to be like those ladies?” My comeback is that if girls truly respect and admire Snooki, JWOWW, Deena, and Sammi (yes, I know all of their names), their problems are bigger than resembling their favorite TV characters. And they’ll probably be famous in five years and have book deals and develop cookbooks about the best recipes for body shots (which I would totally buy as a gag gift for people, but secretly read through first).
Liz Lemon never leaves a friend hanging and neither do I, so I’ll close with this. You can be whoever you want to be and if that is vaguely reminiscent of someone on your TV screen, so be it. Better yet, you be it! Just make sure you look in the mirror before going out instead of the TV. You might end up looking like this…
You can read more from Ashley Sinram on her blog.