“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rile of beauty, which is: who cares?”
Whoever ignorantly said that women are not funny clearly never encountered a Tinay Fey sketch on SNL or simply never heard her speak. A pioneer as a female comedian, Elizabeth Stamatine ‘Tina’ Fey was born in Dakota in 1970 and grew up as a “super nerd” throughout high school. She anonymously contributed to her school newspaper’s satirical column and found her knack for comedy by the time she reached middle school. She studied acting and playwriting at the University of Virginia and following graduation, moved to Chicago to live her dreams vicariously. She started out as a receptionist and funded her performance classes at The Second City comedy group. She started doing her own gigs and met her future husband Jeff Richmond, a pianist.
Working on her career, she had submitted quite a few scripts to SNL which earned her a position as a writer. Despite her initial struggles and hiccups, Fey was determined to make it. Admittedly, she “had my eye on the show forever, the way other kids have their eye on Derek Jeter”. Fey’s parodies soon gained a lot of attention. The shortage of funds led to her eating less and caused her to lose weight which made her “presentable enough” for the camera. Fey also became SNL’s first female head writer, a groundbreaking achievement. Fey also started starring in various films, making a name for herself as one of the funniest on-screen female comics.
Fey is celebrated for her incredible comic timing and sardonic, deadpan humour. She revels in irony and situational comedy and is constantly flouting rules and stereotypes. Smashing patriarchy with her direct commentary on how self-deprecating women are made to become due to the evil clutches of media, she is strong, confident and passionate, often fearless in her edgy humour. In most of her films, she has been reputed for playing “the hilarious, self-deprecating unmarried career woman” which is again a sarcastic take on what the social stereotypes expect of a middle-aged woman.
Today, on her 51st birthday, let us take a look at some of the films and series starring Tina Fey that are streaming on Netflix.
“You know who does have a funny bone in her body? Your mom every night for a dollar.”
Kate Holbrook is a successful single businesswoman who puts her career over everything else. However, at the crossroads of being 37, she finds within herself the need to become a mother. However, she finds out that she has slim chances of getting pregnant and thus hires a surrogate mother named Angie Ostrowski who is not actually pregnant and decides to dupe Kate with hopes of taking the money and running off. The two women are extremely different from one another yet find a common ground to bond. When Angie finds out that she is actually pregnant with her estranged husband’s child she decides to confess to Kate, who in turn stumbles upon an unthinkable revelation, which alters their lives to a great extent.
When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are starring in the same film, it has got to be funny and insanely good. Although the plotline is a bit predictable, the comic timing of both the women make it a fun and enjoyable ride. The ending of the film is extremely wholesome and it is heartwarming to see two of the Saturday Night Live cast members deliver such a funny yet poignant commentary on the priorities in a woman’s life which can be her career over family-making as well as the stereotypical myths about the biological clock.
“It feels like I’m shitting a knife.”
Cady Heron, a home-schooled sixteen-year-old, is thrust into the cosmopolitan environment of North Shore High School where teenage rivalries. Emotional conflicts, angsty behaviour, raging hormonal problems and envy are rampant. She encounters a clique of mean girls called the Plastics, which includes Gretchen Wieners, Karen Smith and the popular queen bee, Regina George. As Cady tries to acclimatise with the changing surroundings, the realisation hits her that high school is similar to the animal kingdom. She finds herself befriending and falling in love with the handsome and dashing Aaron Samuels who is Regina’s ex.
Boasting a brilliant ensemble cast, the film abounds in iconic dialogues and delves deeper into the complex teenage psyche. It successfully manages to portray the competitive four years of high school that is laden with pangs of young love, throes of jealousy, teenage tantrums, hurtful rumours and unbridled fun. Tina Fey stars as Ms Norbury, the attractive and pleasant mathematics teacher who gets framed by the Burn Book for selling drugs and later proves her innocence. Despite Cady being mean to her, Fey’s character loves Cady for her genius in the subject and supports her to join the Mathletes who end up winning the competition, making Ms Norbury proud. Also, not all high school teachers strip to their undergarments on the first day of school, right?
“Oh, hi. Did you wanna buy some drugs?”
A group of friends decide to take a scenic trip to Napa Valley on one of the women, named Rebecca’s 50th birthday. Abby, Catherine, Val, Jenny and Naomi accompany Rebecca on this trip and have contrasting personalities. This is time for them to relax, reconnect and rejuvenate. With flowing alcohol, various uncertainties, real-life problems, gossip and memories, the women are left questioning their bleak future as well as the longevity of friendships. Seeing a brilliant cast of women including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Emily Spibey, Paula pell and Ana Gasteyer coming together is heartwarming in the film.
A moving and heartfelt commentary on female friendships, the film is hilarious. The film was inspired by a real-life trip the SNL stars took to celebrate somebody’s 50th birthday. Although Fey was one of the original SNL members, she could not devote much time to the film owing to her busy schedule and thus stuck to playing the owner of the rental house where the women reside.
“What matters is how you feel inside. So, with all that in mind, what would you say your soul’s age is?”
Edgy, witty and funny, Tina Fey’s vibrant eponymous feminist sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt chronicles the life of a 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt, who desperately tries to adjust to normal life after being rescued from a cult where she was held captive for 15 years. Ridden with trauma, Kimmy tries to start over at New York City with a positive attitude, where she ends up befriending the smart Lillian who is her landlady, her roommate who is a gay struggling actor Titus. She is hired by an insecure socialite named Jacqueline as a nanny.
Quirky and hilarious, Fey’s sitcom deals with the tragedies and doldrum of everyday life, including heavyweight themes such as sexual harassment. The endearing protagonist’s life is laden with abuse and trauma yet her resilience sets her free. A celebration of woman empowerment, the show is brimming with humorous anecdotes. It is heartwarming to see Kimmy finally find her purpose and the ending is bittersweet. In the first season, Fey appears as an incompetent prosecutor but in the second and third season has a more prominent and funny role as an alcoholic therapist who helps Kimmy deal with her issues. She is volatile and her personality largely varies from a state of sobriety to that of wicked drunkenness.
“When I used to get really sad in the place I used to live, I would smile and jump up and down and say ‘I’m not really here’.”
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