I've written before about how Liz Lemon and I are kindred spirits, but after her return appearance last night on Saturday Night Live, I have solidified that when I grow up I want to be Tina Fey herself. Sure, I have made tee-shirts stating the same of both Betty White and Sue Sylvester, but Fey embodies the things I truly want: to be a smart, funny, successful power player in the television world. And judging by the amount of young girls who showed up to 30 Rockefeller Center all week to catch a glimpse, she is a role model to more than just me, too. ;)
Fey won me over as a writer and comedienne a long time ago, but last night she very nearly made me want to tune into Saturday Night Live week after week because she took the show back to what it once was. An hour and a half variety show at the end of the week should have elements of mindless entertainment (ie the musical numbers) so the audience can just zone out and destress from a long work week, but it should also reflect on that week's happenings in society. It should keep the dialogue going but do so in a light-hearted way. It should be unafraid to take jabs at those in the public eye (that comes with the territory, after all), and it shouldn't just rely on generic recurrings like pissed off IT guys or crazy checkout ladies (sorry, Kristen Wiig).
Of course not all of Fey's sketches could be both comedic gold and have a message, like "Women's News" during the news desk portion of the program. There was a delicate balance between those (more below) and "Lolene," a sketch she teased would not even air about a nine-inch tall hooker with a heart of gold; "Masters," in which she took off her thinking-cap to play a trashy mistress of Tiger Woods; and even "Ruff, Rugger & Roker," in which she played another version of that "Masters" character as Dina Lohan. And admittedly, I would have preferred if the latter sketch would have been yet another installment of "What's Up With That" but they had already paraded the guest stars through the monologue so...
Now, I didn't scour the interwebs for information on Fey's hosting the minute it was announced the way I might have with certain other people in the role. So I'm not really sure how much involvement she had in writing any of her sketches. After all, she had a busy week wrapping the fourth season of 30 Rock and probably spending some time promoting the release of Date Night. And there were definitely some near-misses, such as a conversational monologue-turned-spoken-word-version of "I'm Every Woman" that was a somewhat stilted, awkward start to the evening.
The show did feature way more Justin Bieber than anyone over the age of sixteen would have cared for, including one equally uncomfortable sketch where Fey's teacher character develops a Mary Kay Letourneau-like crush on him as her young student, as he warbles his way through some original verses about her and their unconventional, unallowed relationship.
But there were some that were so obviously tailor-fit for Fey it seems like no one else could have known her voice so perfectly. "The Sarah Palin Network" sketch goes without saying as a literal laugh-out-loud moment that no one else could have pulled off. And then there was my personal favorite, "Brownie Husband," which felt like Liz Lemon herself had a hand in the writing.
Maybe it is because Fey has had such a rich history with the show and so many still on staff there know her personally and therefore know her style, but she actually utilized the show the way it seems to have been lacking in recent years. Fey spoke out in sometimes subtle but always still cutting and poignant jabs at the ridiculousness in politics, sports culture, and the entertainment world. She spoke up about things many of us were already thinking (such as how there is no "Oscars curse" that causes men to cheat on their famous wives; it's just a "ladies' curse"); she actually, finally used SNL as a platform for satire.
Fey brought a higher intelligence level to SNL, but she also made it appointment television again, and that is no easy feat in a world of increasing distractions. Wherever Fey is-- whether its small screen or large-- millions want to go to there, and that is a quality I'd love to have even in drips and not droves.