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Good read for pleasure!
on December 17, 2017
Ever heard of Tina Fey? Maybe you know her as the writer of Mean Girls, or maybe as the Sarah Palin impersonator on Saturday Night Live? Or maybe that name rings a bell from her show 30 Rock. Well, no matter how you know her, everybody can tell that she is a comedian, actress, producer, and writer. Fey was a major Democratic supporter during the 2008 elections and she is a strong feminist. Her hilarious comments and sarcastic remarks made her the headlines on numerous news channels back then, but what does that have to say about her success? Seeing her earn nine Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Writers Guild of America Awards, very few people (including me) would have assumed she had a backstory filled with struggles faced in the workplace.
In Tina Fey’s comedical memoir Bossypants she shares the professional lessons she learned to become one of America’s most influential women. Starting out as a shy and awkward girl from Pennsylvania, Fey had always set one dream in her mind: becoming a comedian. “Somewhere around the fifth or seventh grade I figured out that I could ingratiate myself to people by making them laugh. I was trying to make them like me. But after a while it became part of my identity.”
Soon after graduating college, Fey joined an improv theater in Chicago called “The Second City.” It was here that she realized that pleasing everybody would almost be impossible, if that meant she had to give up her own likes. After a sexist encounter during the casting of a new play, Fey realized that by letting your work be your main focus and by ignoring the negativity that surrounds you, you will please the most important person-yourself. “Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions ... Do your thing, and don't care if they like it.” Fey made it clear that if you wanted to grow in your career, you had to learn to let go.
After getting an offer to work at Saturday Night Live, Fey was faced with the same problems -sexism and haters. When she started writing pieces for the show she said “so, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”
Later she did, in fact, become the boss of her own TV show, 30 Rock. From there onwards Fey held onto her principles and shared the pivotal moments in her life in her memoir. Fey was very clear about her attitude and knew that she was going to reach her goal without letting others come in the way.
Overall, I would give this book a 3/5.
Fey’s experiences in the book were all hilarious and impacting, but the memoir lacked a main focus. Although she organized her book chronologically, by including the important aspects of her life that led to her success growing up, she failed to bring the book together on an overall theme. The reader must make assumptions on how to connect all the stories to take a message out of the book.
Fey also did not describe the “how” part very well when addressing “how she achieved her stardom.” One of the targeted audience for this book were women that wanted to be as successful as her, but Fey never described the instances that allowed her to reach Saturday Night Live or how she got to creating the TV show 30 Rock. Including these aspects of her journey could have been very helpful to the targeted audiences who wanted to take notes from her story. Another drawback was the extremely feminist views she included. Although I am a strong believer in equality for men and women, Fey sometimes took her views too far in the book when she tries to degrade males in the working industry. She makes a few insulting generalizations about how most men are either there for sexual needs or to sit around and criticize in the workplace. Comments like these made it uncomfortable for me, being a woman, to read a book so feminist.
On a brighter note, the book was definitely an eye-opener for me as I never realized how much work one must put to receive recognition. All of Fey’s stories made it clear that you had to be extremely hardworking to reach your goal, and her workaholic ways allowed her to reach her stardom.
Also, it was also very shocking to discover the sexism that existed in the television industry. What I appreciated in the book was how we could view Fey as a role model in standing firm for what you are here to accomplish. She was very clear from the start that if she wanted to make it big, she had to assure that there wasn’t going to be anybody between her and her goal.
What I loved most about the book was her style as a writer. Fey was a very simple writer and never used obnoxious diction to prove her point or her status. Not once in the book did Fey hold herself to high regard, which was what made it so relatable to the reader. She includes silly instances like acknowledging changes in her body during puberty, but at the same time easily shows the seriousness she takes towards her work. Throughout the book I appreciated the tips given from her personal experiences, as she manages to also sprinkle in some humor (mostly jokes made on herself). All in all, Bossypants is a fun read for all the Tina Fey fans out there who are looking for a few laughs and Fey’s “playful inside-television journey.”