Everything I Know About Being a Single Woman I Owe to Liz Lemon
To be fair, situational comedy the very definition of a sitcom, and expecting a TV woman to solve a problem without minimal pratfalls or misunderstandings is pointless. Still, even though the fictional women of TV are designed as comedic foils, each of their lives is defined by a quest, be it for a significant other, professional success, or a certain kind of life. Liz Lemon—a 30-something woman, not a 20-something "girl"—is ending her run by deciding to have kids and getting married (triggering all sorts of feminist controversy). Jess is clearly determined to organize her life around regular encounters with vintage stores and crafts. Mindy is a somehow-successful doctor obsessed with turning her personal life into an equally successful romantic comedy.
These goals might be the products of a successful life, but they hardly ensure it. Marriage as "happily ever after?" Coordinated wardrobe as proof of contentment? As signs of female success, these are hardly revolutionary clichés.
When I encounter difficulty, or even frustration, I am looking for a solution that is more than a detour or a distraction. I want something that teaches me how to live. I often start with personal experience or guidance from someone I trust, but I look for actionable answers in my Bible or in prayer. After all, if wisdom is "more precious than jewels" then isn't it a logical goal for the endless quest of modern life?
I know – to my own shame – that sometimes the tired idea that religion is a crutch can hold me back from fully expressing the ways God gives meaning to my daily life. As much as I enjoy TV, it helps to acknowledge that these characters endlessly wield their own tired crutches in the same quest every episode, only to stay stuck in an endless loop that will never reach the fulfillment and contentment God can bring to our real lives.
I still wind up with a funny story to share with friends and mentors at the end of the week. Call me crazy, but I suspect that the more fully I am abiding in Christ the more I get a kick out of the ridiculous, every day situations and people I encounter. Everyday problems in real life seem more like sitcom problems when you're tapped into the wisdom and joy and peace of God.