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January 31, 2013

Slate: How Tina Fey changed TV

(Continued)

Fey's "30 Rock" success — and let's define success here by the show's longevity, quality and accolades, not its often pitiful ratings — just so happened to occur on the front end of what has been a very encouraging time for women working in the industry. More high-profile comedies — from "Girls" to "The Big C" to "Enlightened" to "The New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," which serve as anchors for Fox's Tuesday night comedy block — are being created or co-created by women and placing dynamic, dysfunctional and funny female characters at the center of their narratives. Shows that weren't necessarily invented by women — "Parks" and "Recreation" and "Veep" — also have generated buzz while casting women as central figures in powerful positions. Are Tina Fey and/or Liz Lemon responsible for this? Maybe not directly. But many of the women riding this wave, like Kaling and Fey's friend and partner in Golden Globes-hosting, genius Amy Poehler, would likely cite Fey's simultaneously self-deprecating and cutting sensibility — both on "30 Rock" and in her previous work — as an inspiration for their own.

In fact, during a 2012 Television Critics Association panel, Eileen Heisler, one of the two female showrunners of ABC's "The Middle" and a former producer for "Murphy Brown," attributed TV's lady renaissance in part to Fey. "I think Tina Fey — and us — poked a little hole that allowed for this [proliferation of women in television]," she said, according to Deadline. As we all learned during this year's Golden Globes, it was watching Tina Fey, among others, that helped a young Lena Dunham make it through middle school. That has to count for something.

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