As a head writer for “Saturday Night Live” and creator of “30 Rock,” Tina Fey has already cemented her place as one of the most successful and best respected women in television history. Her autobiography “Bossypants,” like her career, combines the self-deprecation of Liz Lemon, the polemics of her Weekend Update anchor position, and Fey’s always astute, quizzical perspective.
Written more like a magazine than a typical book, Fey takes her own life merely as a jumping-off point for a series of related chapters. While there are the requisite stories of childhood theater camp, awkward teenage dating, and her introduction to improvisation, Fey is at her best combining biting social commentary and comedy. Readers expecting Fey to expound on her definitions of comedy will be thoroughly disappointed, but those willing to stick with this seemingly ADD-addled structure will be handsomely rewarded.
The jokes are fired continuously (and often furiously), whether Fey is describing “Saturday Night Live” as a perpetual motion machine powered by success and disappointment or relaying the horrors of female puberty. Fey may champion women’s rights, rail against modern perceptions of beauty, and dissect gender politics in the entertainment industry, but she also clearly recognizes her foremost position as a comedienne and entertainer.
Throughout it all, Fey owns up to her bad haircuts, her inner shame, and her insecurities as a writer, a mother, and a woman; she hilariously addresses her critics, and appears wholly self-aware. After all, no one seems to understand Fey’s dualistic positions as strident feminist and beautiful woman subject to many of the exact trappings of other members of her gender.
“Bossypants” has received some scathing reviews from those claiming Fey never gets personal, doesn’t dish the appropriate amount of dirt, or fails to take appropriate political stances– especially given her illustrious position in comedy. And those people are generally missing the point. “Bossypants” will not be all things to all people, but it is, like Fey’s other writing, brutally honest and ultimately hilarious.