Even three weeks after the finale of 30 Rock, I still have a heavy heart over the fact that I will never see a new episode of one of my favorite sitcoms ever again. There will never be another lesson in how to overcome your feelings by Jack Donaghy, never another Tracy Jordan going to strip bars when he should be working, no more Jenna Maroney making out with her boyfriend/celebrity impersonator, but the biggest loss of all is not seeing Tina Fey play the slightly doughtier version of herself week after week, eating "night cheese" and wearing cardigans.
The television show aside, the question of "what is next for Tina Fey" comes to mind. I think we can all agree that Fey is, at her core, a comic writer and a damn good one at that. Aside from her multiple Emmys, Golden Globe awards and SAG awards, she was also the recipient of the 2010 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which is one of the premier awards a comedian can receive.
Fey has been making people laugh since her days with Chicago's famed Second City troupe and then for nine years as a writer for SNL (arguably some of the funniest years in recent history). She co-starred in two movies that she penned and also has done some acting in movies that she did not write. This is all in addition to being a best-selling author of her memoire Bossy Pants. In reality, Tina Fey can do whatever it is that she wants to do, but there are certain avenues that she should probably avoid.
Later this month, the movie Admission will be released, which stars Fey alongside funnyman Paul Rudd. The premise of Admission is the story of a stuffy Princeton admission's officer (Fey), who finds herself back in touch with an old classmate (Rudd) who is not stuffy, but rather fun and upbeat. Rudd runs an alternative high school that may or may not house the son Fey gave up for adoption many years ago. As described by the movie's website, Fey inevitable must "risk the future she thought she always wanted - and in the process find her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having." The tag line is "Let someone in."
So, this is a feel-good romantic comedy, heavy on the schmaltz.
Admission was directed by Paul Weitz who is the man behind About a Boy and In Good Company, two movies that were also romantic comedies that were more romance than comedy. About a Boy is a much revered movie in certain circles and so some may object when I cast a negative light over it. I am not saying it is a bad movie, I am saying that it is not particularly funny, give or take. Given Weitz' resume and how Admission is being marketed, you can't blame me for thinking that it too will be more heart than hearty laugh. It is based on a book of the same title that Entertainment Weekly gave an A, which is always suspect.
So, again, what does this mean for Fey? Is she trying to make the leap to leading lady? Does she want to be the next Reese Witherspoon and crank out poor stereotypical, mushy love movies about successful women who learn that they can have it all? God, I hope not. Fey is better than rom-coms; she is actually funny.
She is in a sort of awkward position. She could continue to write hilarious screenplays that do not rely on her as the lead (Mean Girls, Baby Momma). She could branch out into directing her own movies; either road will assure her continued success (hits and misses alike) and credibility as a very funny lady.
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Or she could go down the dark path of trying to "act." In addition to romantic comedies, Tina Fey may eventually try her hand at some dramas. There have been several comedians who have done serious roles well, with good directors and excellent writing. Will Farrell has tried, Jim Carrey has excelled, and even Adam Sandler has done some quality "serious" acting. And Fey might thrive in dramatic films. She is a smart, empathetic woman with good instincts, but an actor she is not. Let's face it, as incredible as she is at doing Sarah Palin impressions, the best character Fey knows how to play is a slightly different version of Tina Fey.
It's almost ironic that Fey is finding herself in a new place where she has to define and prove herself all over again, coming off her immense fame and well-deserved respect. She has called television home for the entirety of her career, how friendly will the silver screen be to her when it is her full time job and not just a side project? I wonder if she's scared? Or perhaps, to put it in her words, she's "blorft."
"Blorft" is an adjective I just made up that means 'Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.' I have been blorft every day for the past seven years."
Blorft or not, I hope Tina Fey is on the right track and that in five years she's not making movies about wedding dresses or finding the guy of her dreams was always right under her nose. She's too good for that crap.