Television Socialized Me And I'm Really Going To Miss Liz Lemon

Publish date:
February 5, 2013
TV, tina fey, 30 Rock, liz lemon

On Thursday January 31st, I bid farewell to Liz Lemon and "30 Rock." I feel like my drug dealer moved away.

I love television. For me, it's perfect escapism. When I'm feeling like shit -- depressed, tired, lonely -- friends, stories, and mindless comfort and company are all available to me at the click of a button. And with the rise of the Tivo the Great and NetFlix the Powerful, never do I have to wish that there was a "Dexter" marathon on basic cable -- he's already there, ready and waiting for me to turn him on.

Now I know there is a certain percent of the population who finds television, especially my devotion to it, distasteful, even offensive. How many times have I been at a "hip" party and "I don't even own a TV" has wafted over in my direction?

I tried to be one of those TV-less people, really I did.

When I was 8, my pediatrician said to me, "TV is like drugs. IT ROTS YOUR BRAIN! You only get to watch 30 minutes a day." I cried and went home, trying for a week to do as the good doctor prescribed. Finally, my mother took pity on me and told me that the doctor was wrong (simultaneously jump starting my doubt in authority figures and the overratedness of "sitting quietly"), and that I could go back to my nightly palate cleanser of "The Simpsons," "90210" and Nick at Nite.

My enabler mother once said to me and some friends, completely deadpan, "Dr. Green has a tumor," and after the initial shock and concern elicited from my friends and me, we figured out that she was referring to a character on "ER." I'm not that bad, but you see the stock from whence I came.

And I realize -- just like with any obsession -- there has to be a line that you (probably) won't cross. I have an especially addictive personality, and have the ability to fixate on any given "feel good" thing without remorse. So I have my rules for television so that my obsession will not preclude healthy human interaction.

My rules are:

  • No TV in the bedroom
  • No TV during company, unless we are watching a movie
  • Never choose television over real human contact -- that's why we have Tivo.
  • NEVER spend more on your television than you would your share of the rent.
  • If the show makes you weird (you find yourself depressed that you cannot live in the Bluth's Orange County), STOP WATCHING IT. You can always go back to it later.

But even with that last rule in place to protect me from myself, I felt the pangs of withdrawal kick in immediately after the last credit ran and Liz Lemon was zapped off into oblivion, forever to be memorialized in syndication and on Netflix on Demand.

As much as I can't stand the people who confuse reality with reality television, seeing the last of Liz Lemon and company leaves me really, truly bummed. As has been said over and over again of Tina Fey's brainchild, Liz Lemon was the smart, aggressive, weirdo-woman's pin-up.

I won't tread over the same ground, revering her "trying to have it all in a man's world" and "awkward charm" -- but instead I'd like to acknowledge the fact for me, and maybe weirdo-women everywhere, Liz Lemon showed me the other side of the Career Woman.

It wasn't until I met Liz Lemon that I stopped emulating and started BEING. This fictional character flew her freak flag, whether she could help it or not, and something in me perked up. For the first time I viscerally connected to a character who spoke directly to not only the fears and doubts I harbored, but also the confidence, bossiness, and no-bullshit idealism that I knew also lurked in there as well.

Best of all, none of it was wrapped up in a shiny, stylish package. Liz Lemon had food in her hair, wore a variation on the same outfit everyday (Plaid shirts! My weakness!), and was icked out by the word "lover." I had finally found a character that not only spoke to my flaws but embraced them.

I too have my "night cheese" and my nerd obsessions ("Star Trek," "Mythbusters," any ghost show/movie ever made) that I will cling to with pride and fervor. Liz Lemon has given those nerds formerly lurking in the shadows of the "cool kids" the balls to speak up -- a little too loudly -- and be heard, if not celebrated.

Beyond all the worrying about what other people thought of her ("Oh, my God, I am! I'm a total -- Runt! Runt! I lost my kitten. Has anyone seen my runt?"), her aggressive obsession with food (Sabor de Soledad), and her fears of never being a mom, Liz Lemon stomped through her life and career defiantly.

At her core she was smart and knew it. No apologies, no polite humility, no being properly "lady-like." Suck it, nerds.

So, I thank you Liz Lemon, for helping me to be me, unequivocally me. You were the first to tell me to shut up, stop being such a "jag-off" and confirm that yes, "I can do it. I can have it all."

I want to go to there.