Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are very successful women in comedy who both had big, successful, smart shows centered on them and continue to branch out into producing and creating new contents. Their mid-life memoirs Yes Please and Bossypants are inspiring and fun, just like their Golden Globe hosting. They are also often limited in outlook, insensitive to everyone who’s not a white cis hetero middle class woman. They don’t however use feminism to help their own brand, like Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham might be accused to do.
Fey offers some real advice on being a strong woman in the workplace: “Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.” (Bossypants).
She adds, “This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. “You’re up for a promotion. If they go for a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.” Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.” (Bossypants)
Poehler and Fey are women who are ambitious about a career in comedy and on television, and share with us what they’ve learned, including their own experience of being a woman. They also perform female friendship and female collaboration in genuinely amazing ways.
In her book, Poehler says about Fey:
“Tina Fey is my comedy wife […] People think of us as a ‘comedy team’ and I am not quick to correct them. Why wouldn’t I want to connect myself to the fiercest and most talented voice in the comedy world? […] Tina reminds me of how far I have come. She knew me when. When we are together I feel strong and powerful […] We don’t compete against each other, we compete against ourselves […] It is intense to have little kids and a television show and be a woman in general, and I am lucky to have someone to walk through this weird life with.” (Yes Please 229-230).
This is why I loved reading Bossypants and Yes Please one after the other– they might speak of a limited womanhood but their performance of female friendship, support, collaboration and their embrace of ambition and success in spite of the muddiness that sometimes comes with it is real, inspiring, and too rare in our pop culture.