On NBC’s 30 Rock, television producer Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey, is rejected as a candidate for motherhood when she tries to adopt a baby. The agency sees her as a liability, not only because of the risqué content of the late-night show she produces, but also because they determine that she is too selfish in her career-focused life to be an adequate caregiver for a child. Her situation, albeit exaggerated for humor, is representative of the constant conundrum that women face: can we have it all, or must we choose between motherhood and a career?
Tina–also the creator of the show–is in real life the mother of a toddler who recently brought home a book she had checked out from the preschool library entitled My Working Mom. It features a witch who is very busy and has to fly away to a lot of meetings, leaving her children alone. It could have been an inadvertent choice by the authors (who incidentally are two males), but featuring a witch as the working mother—who in fairy tales is the epitome of the evil, cold-hearted, shriveled soul—seems symptomatic of the way that our society continues to perceive working mothers despite the rapid advances we’ve made in recent years.
Tina Fey extrapolates further on this theme in “Confessions of a Juggler: What’s the Rudest Question You Can Ask a Mother,” a funny and insightful piece in the New Yorker in which Fey states that she continues to work not just to further her career, but also to mentor the younger generation of women as they climb the rickety ladders of the entertainment industry. To read more, pick up the February 14, 2011 issue of the New Yorker on newsstands, or click here to access the article online.