There is an episode of Tina Fey’s 10-time Emmy Award-winning sitcom 30 Rock in which Fey’s character – the successful, witty and unabashedly uncool Liz Lemon – hallucinates that she meets Oprah Winfrey on a flight from Chicago to New York. High on sleeping pills, Fey’s Lemon hugs her famous seatmate, sniffs her hair and regales her with a series of too-close-for-comfort confessions and Winfrey-style self-help clichés – “I’m Liz Lemon and I lost my virginity at 25″; “My work self is suffocating my life me.”
If Oprah Winfrey has that jellying effect on Liz Lemon, Tina Fey, the woman who writes and plays her, has the same impact on her own fans. Fey inspires visceral reactions in people. Mention her name, and certain subsets of the population will start blushing (male, nerdy), falling over themselves in Liz Lemon-style excitement (female, educated) or enthusiastically singing her praises (most of the people who have worked with her). As Fey’s long-time boss and collaborator Lorne Michaels has commented, “There is a group of people who feel Tina can do no wrong in my eyes. But that’s because she’s just wrong less often than other people.”
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