America's Wrongest TV Critic Forgot About Brett Butler
New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley's casual relationship with the truth has been well documented. She decided America invaded Iraq in 2002 and not 2003. She re-appropriated a common CNN slogan to MSNBC. And her crowning accomplishment: a rare triple correction on Walter Cronkite's obituary which earned her a scolding from Katie Couric. Her summary of NBC's 30 Rock, which has its series finale tonight, is only a little bit less wrong than usual.
Stanley's piece focuses on series creator, writer and star Tina Fey. Who is great! But in her effort to canonize Fey as a pathbreaker, Stanley would like us to believe that she's the only woman who has had starred in and written her own television show:
But before Ms. Fey there were almost no women on network television who created and wrote their own shows and starred in them. One of the more notable exceptions dates to the days of black-and-white: Gertrude Berg created, wrote and starred in a hit radio comedy about a Jewish matriarch in the Bronx that was turned into a CBS sitcom, "The Goldbergs," in 1949.
That almost is carrying a lot of weight, all the moreso because Stanley would have us believe you have to go back 60 years ago to find a good example of someone accomplishing what Fey has.
Other women who have created and starred in their own shows in the years since 1949 include: Amy Brenneman in Judging Amy and Roseanne Barr in Roseanne (whom, oddly, Stanley mentions elsewhere in her piece even though she is perhaps a better historical antecedent than Gertrude Berg). Other women who, though not strictly credited as creators, have written and produced their shows and certainly been as synonymous with their success as Tina Fey is with 30 Rock include: Ellen DeGeneres on Ellen, Brett Butler on Grace Under Fire, and Bea Arthur on Maude.
In other words, almost no one.
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