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Tina Fey gives nerds hope

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, December 1, 2008 22:35 EDT
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This Vanity Fair profile of Tina Fey is both intriguing and unbelievably irritating, because Maureen Dowd wrote it. Dowd is more than a little obsessed with Fey’s looks (though it’s depressing but interesting that Fey had to lose 30 pounds and learn to ape the sexy librarian look before she got to be on TV—it’s the sort of thing that makes even the most ardent feminist stick to salad if she wants to get anywhere in this world), and it even seems like Dowd really can’t comprehend a woman who has a big but not ugly scar on her face who might not really care that much about it. She quotes “30 Rock” against Fey, her friends, and her husband’s relative indifference to the scar, as if it reveals the real truth.

I wonder how the scar affected Fey in high school. “She wasn’t Rocky Dennis developing a sense of humor because of her looks, like in Mask,” says Damian Holbrook, laughing. Liz Lemon’s blustery Republican boss, Jack Donaghy, played with comic genius by Alec Baldwin, tells Lemon, “I don’t know what happened in your life that caused you to develop a sense of humor as a coping mechanism. Maybe it was some sort of brace or corrective boot you wore during childhood, but in any case I’m glad you’re on my team.”

Ooooh burn. Except not. I wonder if Dowd realizes that other writers can in fact write without projecting all their issues out into the world.

But what makes it a fun read anyway is the way it gives those with a terminal case of nerdiness hope. Because by all accounts, Tina Fey was a giant nerd growing up. Really, it’s fucking adorable reading her husband’s account of their days in Chicago before they married. (They’ve been together 14 years.)

And as for her clothes: “Things that didn’t match. She used to wear crazy boots. She would wear just a lot of knee-length frumpy dresses with thrift-store sweaters and kind of what was comfortable. It still looked kind of cool on her. I used to get all my suits in thrift stores, because I realized I was the size of little old men who were dying.” The five-foot-three-and-a-half Richmond says they bonded over hot veal sandwiches and their appreciation of “sarcastic humor and Garry Shandling shows.”

So for high school losers who didn’t even realize blooming was possible until your 30s, there’s hope. I’m truly impressed, in fact. I like Fey even more, if such a thing could even be possible.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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