Nov 13, 2008 - Tina Fey, women    16 Comments

How Tina Fey saved me from irreversible brain damage

Watching TV is painful. As a rule, I don’t watch much TV, but one do lapse into the mindlessness of it from time to time and then live to regret it.

Last week, I saw TV for about half an hour and lost it – completely. I caught one of the episodes of a soap on one of the local channels. It had a domestic servant who was first harassed by the younger son of her employers and then later raped by the older son. Because she was a lowly employee, she kept quiet and did not tell anyone about the crime. There was another track where they showed a mafia boss having hots for a middle class behenji type working girl. Instead of befriending the girl, he sent his mom with rishta (formal proposal of marriage) to the girl’s mom and threatened her on the side, that if she refused to marry him, bad things will happen to her family. How did her family reacted to it, instead of reporting the incident to police or something, the daddy asked the girl to quit her job and stay at home otherwise people will talk?

What subliminal message did this half an hour long episode convey, that it is easy to push women around, whether they are illiterate domestic servants or educated and financially independent girls. Men are licensed from God/society/law/whatever to harass/stalk/rape women and they will get away. After all, what rights do second class citizens have, NONE.

I was so annoyed after watching that soap, I wrote a page long letter and emailed it to the channel that was airing it and copied it to at least 4 women rights organizations. I got a letter of thanks from one of them and they said they will take up the matters with the said TV channel. Irony was, the soap was named ‘Tair-e-lahooti’ which literally translates in to ‘a bird with limitless flight’.

I switched channels and saw discovery doing a crazy scientific study about which part of body hurts most when it is pinched and I was like WTF? I was so fascinated with grown men doing ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ and ‘ouch’ after every pinch that I watched it till the end. Apparently, the back of human arms is the most sensitive area. So if you want to pinch someone really hard, aim for the back of their arms.

Among all that crappy TV, I stumbled upon good ol’ Liz Lemon at her old address (30 Rock) and what a relief it was. Where else do you get dialogues like ‘Hugging is so ethnic’ and ‘you are choosing a sandwich over a guy, that’s less cliched’ to a boss who is as adorably insufferable and screwed up as Jack Donaghy.

Here is an exchange between Jack and Liz that reminded me of … me.

Jack: So what are you gonna do with your money? Put it into a 401K?
Liz: Yeah, I gotta get one of those.
Jack: What?! Where do you invest your money, Lemon?
Liz: I’ve got like twelve grand in checking.
Jack: Are you an immigrant?

Believe me, I have had one of these conversations, and I don’t even have the excuse of being an immigrant. The only difference is that the guy I was talking to was not as fat, old or fabulous as Alec Baldwin and I probably would have a lot less than US$12,000 in my checking account.

The reason I love Tina is that she made edgy neurotic acceptable. Take Liz Lemon, her character in ’30 Rock’ is as real as it can get in network television. She strives to be a better, more honorable, more down-to-earth person and gets diverted by her own shallow, petty urges. She knows who she is and occasionally tries to assert that her rather mundane desires and limitations are perfectly acceptable. She wants a husband, sure, but she doesn’t want anyone to be the boss of her. She wants to get ahead at work, yes, but she also wants to skip work and watch a rented movie in bed. She has made it absolutely normal for women to be single at 37, wear glasses, eat Chinese food out of take away box, attract losers or conflicted people, work with losers or conflicted people and deal with a boss whose ego is as gigantic as Grand Canyon, and still be friends with him. The best thing about Tina Fey is that she can be screwed up and likeable at the same time without being over the top, unlike the clinging, coy and clamoring for attention Jennifer Aniston in Friends.

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Clip to Evernote

16 Comments

  • I personally think that the best way for women to stop the spreading of this evil message is to stop acting in roles like these, i.e refuse to be the victem the whole time!!!

  • I think simpsons is one of the most intelligent shows on tv… !!!

  • 30Rock is cool. Agreed about regular doze of those fun programming to get your mind off things

  • I love tina fey and 30 rock, harly anyone else agrees. I also really like pushing daisies.

  • hollaar!! seinfeld, simpsons (which i practically grew up on and this is why i am this way, i keep telling mom) and arrested development! my absoluteeee faves (i heart jason bateman). haven’t done 30 rock as yet tho, haye haye i musn’t. not now atleast.

    and i’m rather surprised at your patienece to sit through that hour long of crap, taz. our society is dying because of these bloody soaps… DYING!

  • @ faisal k: why don’t the men stop acting in roles such as these, i.e. always being the aggressive chauvinist wanker?

  • Soaps should be banned or possibly be used for educational purposes only, education about what not to do that is. I’m quite certain that my sisters soap watching is tied to the fact that she seems to get a lower and lower IQ every month that goes by.

    Personally I enjoy the more traditional life of a woman in my country and I have to defend my right to do what I want to with my life. This post was a healthy reminder about how petty my squabbles with my fellow citizen feminists are compared to the very real issues women in other countries face.

  • @sidrah….because men do not have a problem with being typecast…as aggresive chauvinistic wankers or anything else…the women are always bleating on tho haiiii men are such daawgs….hai this hai that…they look at me funny at woork

  • I absolutely love her… she is awesomely sarcastic ! I just stumbled upon 30Rock yesterday… and it was hilarious… it ended my long dreaded day on a laughing note !

  • i forgot to mention weeds, thats a good one as well.

  • HAhahahahaha !!! How come you always come across such programs where women are deprived of all basic human rights? And then your ever favorite “men are not from mars” NAT GEO program. Its just hilarious. I get a feeling that soon you will ask them to change the words huMAN to huWOMAN and MANkind to WOMANkind.

    I agree with Faisal.K’s second comment.

    Ironic, but women are the ones who watch such programs the most. They include, “illiterate domestic servants or educated and financially independent girls”

  • Alvi,

    If you read through the text, i never blamed any ‘MEN’ for insensitive programming,m it was just a general remark on the really sad state of affairs.

    Have you noticed that you always end up sounding like a patronizing know it all? especially the last line.

    If you find my blog that juvenile, don’t read it, i don’t write it for maximum hits, i just write it because i feel like writing it.

  • It really is sad how the domestic help is treated in Pakistan. We do treat them with respect but don’t they deserve more? It’s funny how even as Muslims, I know some who won’t even drink from the same vessels or eat from the same plates as those in a lower class? It really is the whole class superiority and inferiority complex that has corrupted our society.

  • thanks for the recommendations! they took Seinfeld off my cable and replaced it with another Indian soap channel 🙁

  • Nusrat,

    Death to soaps, Indian, Pakistani or Mexican.

  • i didnt like 30 Rock intially, then i saw the episode of tina fey rushing around all day long for an ssignement in low blood sugar and that reminded of me…i guess the ability to relate to stuff makes it wacthable….and we dont have anything to relate to in soaps.

    ur comment on finding people with gud jobs and killing them and taking over their jobs was a killer….cracks me u everytime i read it.

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