Why We Love Liz Lemon on 30 Rock S05 E15


"...I choose the simple explanation. I choose to believe that last night Liz Lemon went out, got some, and felt good about it. And so I say goodbye to spinsterhood."


As I sit here with one hand on the keyboard and the other elbow-deep in an industrial-size bag of cheese puffs, I’m moved to think about my feelings for Liz Lemon. Liz is a complicated character and I’m not entirely convinced that I’d view her as television role model for women like Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope, but when the cheeto dust settles, she’s still the sort of lady I’d want to watch Eat, Pray, Love with.

I love Liz as a character. I don’t see the same inconsistencies in her that I can easily pick out in a Serena van der Woodsen. I remember, however, that when 30 Rock first became big, writers (ahem, mostly bloggers) lauded Liz as being the kind of genuine television character with whom women could relate. Fans point to Liz’s compulsive overeating, her unsuccessful encounters with men, and her excessive focus on her career as the sort of traits that endear her to female viewers in similar situations.

This way of thinking about Liz again examines her character through our own lived experiences, but it doesn’t necessarily account for her attributes that are less than realistic. I don’t imagine that most women who have attained some sort of career success constantly talk about themselves in the same self-deprecating manner as Liz. Liz never quite demands respect, and so she never quite gets it. Sure, her writers and co-workers regard her position as TGS head-writer with some authority and clout, but they never take Liz seriously as a person. She’s the comical, insecure boss who manages a television show, but who can’t manage her own life.

I like Liz, but I don’t want to be her. She’s not my ego ideal of what a woman in charge should be like, but she’s not so far removed from my own experiences that I can’t relate sometimes. When Liz complains about the lack of funding for her show or the laziness of the writers, I get where she’s coming from. But when she breaks down in the writers’ room or in Jack’s office, I just want to smack her for not keeping it together at work. We know it’s hard out there for any woman in a position of power, so it’d be nice to see the same Liz Lemon dealing with difficult situations the way other women do. Then again, it’s always funny to see someone other than yourself stress-eat.

Will a one-night stand transform Liz Lemon? Are ice chips in white wine ever a good idea? And can I possibly use any more double-negative sentence constructions? Stay tuned!


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