Our new tagline, per Tina Fey: "Perhaps correct. Definitely exhausting." And though the 30 Rock version of Jezebel has the old layout (sorry, ladies) and a womyn sign, there was no mistaking which site was featured on last night's episode — nor the ambivalence surrounding it. We're honored!
You should watch the whole thing, but to recap briefly: A certain site for women — which features feminist commentary and who has the worst beach bod (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) — calls out TGS for allegedly hating women. ("Feeling empowered? Glad to be born female? Well, tune into NBC's TGS some Thursday night if you want to experience a vicious woman-hating corporate piece of crud live on your TV."). Liz Lemon indignantly insists that she supports women "like a human bra," and tells Jack she'll hire a woman, Abby Flynn. He doesn't agree until he sees her tits.
(Requisite inside baseball explication: Tina Fey is said to have recommended Olivia Munn for
The Daily Show her NBC sitcom Perfect Couples. We wrote this and this, and I said this too. Direct Olivia Munn quote of relevance: "Maybe some of those female bloggers who write about me, maybe their way in is because they're a narrow-minded bitch. Maybe mine is because I can tell a joke and wear a bikini." Also, we occasionally post photos of celebrities in bikinis. And Tina Fey had to lose weight to get on-air and these days often looks hot in magazines.)
The unsettling feeling of several conflicting ideas being simultaneously true persists throughout the episode, as when Liz's apparently feminist dismay at Abby being a baby-voiced sexpot aligns with Jenna just plain wanting to tear her down. We would say that the relevant question is not whether she's sexy or not — it's whether she's funny at all, in addition to being hot, not an either-or proposition. Sadly, on 30 Rock, we only see Abby being funny when she's in her sardonic brunette mode. In the end, it's a cop-out when her entire sexiness gets chalked up to hiding her identity from an abusive man, unless Tina Fey's ultimate point, as Fleshbot editor Lux Alptraum suggested yesterday, is that there can be no girly performance of sexuality without it somehow having to do with what a man did to her.
But the idea of a man ultimately controlling the course of events makes sense, both in the scheme of the show's power dynamics and the ones that exist in real life. That's true even for websites with their share of earnest feminist commentary that also have bosses and bills to pay. And yet the other plotline in that single potent episode shows that this too is not so fixed. Jack thinks he's leading astray the teenage heiress to Kabletown, whereas in reality she's playing him and poses a real threat. As she stops playing the innocent and snarls her true desire for power, you notice something else about the transformation: She's wearing makeup now.