Tina Fey’s Bossypants reviews are in, and critics are finding it hilarious, well-written, and compelling…though not, technically speaking, much of an autobiography. “Bossypants isn’t a memoir. It’s a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation,” says the New York Times’ Janet Maslin. “Bossypants is uneven and jagged in a way you might expect from one practiced in sketch comedy and sitcoms, but it’s also loaded with personality, insights into power and the kind of humor that can cause beverages to travel through the reader’s nasal passages unplanned,” Time’s Mary Pols explains. Angle your head away from your computer accordingly.
Other reviews seem to agree that while Bossypants is a pleasure to read, it’s not exactly serving up the kind of deep, soul-rending expose we demand of the genre. “Fey treats Bossypants as an extension of her television alter ego. Edging up to difficult truths and skipping away may make for sophisticated sitcoms, but it doesn’t make for satisfying memoir writing,” Anna Holmes writes in her review for Newsweek. She admonishes, “The most successful autobiographies demand a certain amount of psychic heavy lifting, risk taking, and interrogation of one’s ideas; Fey will have none of it, which contributes to the nagging feeling that, despite her prodigious talents, she can be a little too clever by half.” Holmes, founding editor of the site Jezebel lampooned as JoanOfSnark in “TGS Hates Women”, also takes Tina to task for not making any kind of definitive statement about women in comedy or spilling more beans about working within “the boys’ club.” Though that whole “male writers peeing in cups” certainly seems to lean in that direction. The question, of course, is how much Fey is obligated to reveal about her personal life, and what kind of revelations she must offer, in order to make for a compelling read. There’s also the fact that few comedians, particularly one at the height of her career, who are going to risk burning any bridges, no matter how awash in urine those bridges might be.