My dissertation was about women’s authorship and sitcoms. Authorship is a key word here. It wasn’t about “writers,” but about those who left their marks on the text, their control over character, storylines through aspects of performance and utilizing their star power — for most of my case studies (30 Rock, Girls, and United States of Tara) the examination did focus on writing, but what I found while returning to the archives was the thread of women’s narratives that dealt with writing without words. Lucille Ball never wrote for I Love Lucy nor was she the head of Desilu, but as Madelyn Pugh Davis, one of the show’s writers, notes in her memoir Laughing with Lucy, Ball exerted authorship through performance and her refusal/approval to perform certain scenes. Amy Poehler wrote a handful of Parks and Recreation episodes, but her iconic status in improvisation as a founding member of Upright Citizen’s Brigade and successful sketch career at SNL brought her a certain level of authority to the series, a sentiment continually asserted in interviews with the cast and crew. Mary Tyler Moore is also part of this legacy of women’s negotiation and “writing.” She wasn’t a writer but owned her performances. She owned her brand and in doing so provided opportunities for writers to develop their own. Mary Tyler Moore owned Mary Richards, who helped women figure out their place in feminism’s upheaval of roles and norms. More… “Left Wanting Moore”

Melinda Lewis has a PhD in American Culture Studies. She knows more celebrity gossip than basic math and watches too much television.


I’m sad. I just learned that my own country didn’t score very high on the annual Happiness Index. I’m thinking of moving to Denmark. What does a poet do when he or she gets sad like I am? — Justin L. , Kansas City, Missouri

I’m a little sad, too, and right now I’m drinking chai from a teacup made in Uzbekistan. I like this cup, deep blue with white swirls that represent the cotton plant (ok oltin as it is called in Uzbek, “White Gold”). And I like chai, sharing a semantic kinship with the Uzbek word for tea, choy, its vapors steadily tugging at my heart with a longing nostalgia. I’m not drinking chai because it’s delicious — well, not entirely. I’m not drinking it because I like it and hope that it will uplift my… More…