The Writers' Room

The Writers' Room
Finding Ourselves In Liz Lemon

Elizabeth Grunewald | 5 Jan 2011 10:15
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Most of Lemon's "kooky" qualities are actually so comfort-based as to be considered ordinary. While they are played for laughs, all her interests tie in to basic needs: Food, clothing, curling up on the couch. Who doesn't have a little debt, or personal issues related to sex? Who dislikes sandwiches? No one is perfect. Not Liz Lemon, not me, and not to get personal, but probably not you.

How, then, if Liz Lemon is an everywoman, is she so fascinating? It could easily be chalked up to the writing and performance. Fey is a powerhouse of funny, and Lemon is the personification of that talent for humor. If it were only funny, though, we would love her, but perhaps not identify so strongly. In her cover story in the March 2010 issue of Vogue, Fey tries to define her personal allure, saying, "I feel like I represent normalcy in some way. What are your choices today in entertainment? People either represent youth, power, or sexuality. And then there's me, carrying normalcy - me and Rachel Ray." It's fallacious to confuse the actor (or the writer) with the role, but Fey has summed up Liz Lemon's appeal in describing herself: She's a bastion of normalcy. She's not like so many female characters on television today, police officers and doctors who may experience turmoil in their lives, but are designed without recognizable human flaws. Millions of women are beautiful, intelligent, and funny, but are unlikely to see themselves in a televised version of "beautiful, intelligent, funny woman."

The ability to identify with this character is best expressed, as I find most things are, in the words of Lemon herself: "Can I share with you my worldview? All of humankind has one thing in common: The sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich." I raise my hoagie to you, Liz Lemon, and to all the self-identified Lemons in the world.

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