Tina Fey has come under fire in recent months for a storyline on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in which a character reveals she has Native American heritage but has kept it hidden for years, but she says she’s not going to apologize for a joke.
Fey told Net-A-Porter recently that her new goal is to not explain jokes to the audience, even if some of them are offended.
“We did an ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ episode and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it racist, but my new goal is not to explain jokes,” she said. “I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.”
Co-creator Robert Carlock later said that there were writers on the show who had Native American heritage, and they felt it was a direction everyone was comfortable going in.
“We have a couple of writers on staff with Native American heritage…so we felt like we had a little room to go in that direction… wouldn’t that be a crazy A-to-Z for her to deal with that, and maybe reconcile with it, and re-embrace who she really is, ultimately,” Carlock said.
Fey and bestie Amy Poehler are having a big week; the duo saw their film Sisters open, and they co-hosted Saturday Night Live together over the weekend to great reviews. The comedians’ episode was highly anticipated by fans who have missed seeing the women cut up together on the sketch show every week.
Tina and Amy took on Taylor Swift during their time on SNL, parodying her video “Bad Blood” after a well-known feud of sorts that began when the pair hosted the Golden Globes and poked fun at Swift’s penchant for speed-dating. Afterward, Swift seemed to bite back in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” Swift said.
Tina Fey made headlines recently when she admitted in an interview that she was a “mean girl” in high school, closer to Regina George than Cady Heron. For her, it was a defense mechanism.
“I was the Mean Girl, I admit it openly. That was a disease that had to be conquered. It’s another coping mechanism — it’s a bad coping mechanism — but when you feel less than in high school, everyone feels less than everyone else for different reasons, in your mind it’s a way of leveling the playing field. Though of course it’s not. Saying something terrible about someone else does not actually level the playing field,” Fey told The Edit.
Fey says she was able to grow out of that phase when she discovered comedy, and later she was able to make light of her past by writing moments from her own life into projects like Mean Girls and 30 Rock.
“The desire to be funny – because you are never actually quite sure if you really are funny – is a coping mechanism, another way of ingratiating yourself,” Tina Fey said.
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