There are a lot of performers out there who make us laugh, but few are as synonymous with contemporary comedy as Tina Fey. She has built a comedy empire with the foundations of dry, self-deprecating, non-sequitur humor. But Fey is more than just a performer. She’s an award-winning writer, credited with reviving Saturday Night Live in the early 2000s. Her script for Mean Girls is one of the most quoted movies ever. Fey is also the creator of two hit TV series in 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Throw in a New York Times bestselling memoir, and it’s clear that there’s little this entertainment titan can’t do.
It’s difficult to look at Tina Fey and not crack a smile. Whenever on camera, she’s always guaranteed to bring the laughs. As successful a television career as she’s had, Fey has also made a huge splash on the silver screen. From taking down mean girls to parodying politicians, here are Tina Fey’s 10 Most Unforgettable Roles, Ranked.
10 Wine Country (2019)
Amy Poehler's directorial debut Wine Country may not be considered top-shelf, but Tina Fey chews up the Napa Valley scenery. The Netflix film centers around six middle-aged friends who gather to celebrate Rebecca's (Rachel Dratch) 50th birthday at a gorgeous Airbnb in wine country. Fey plays Tammy, the flannel-donning Airbnb owner.
She gives the ladies a tour of her home, while making pessimistic predictions about the fate of their friendship over the course of their girls' trip. How Fey manages to deliver lines like "toxic jibber jabber" with a straight face, we'll never know. While the ladies may not be happy with Tammy's backwoods bluntness, the viewer can't get enough.
9 Baby Mama (2008)
Most comedic actors are either known as “the straight man” or the “funny one”. It takes a true force of an entertainer like Tina Fey to be able to nail both. In Baby Mama, Fey is the straitlaced Kate, a single woman who wants to have a child via surrogate. That’s where Amy Poehler’s irresponsible Angie comes in. Trying to corral her gives Kate a firsthand look at what being a parent is like.
The fact that she still wants to go through with it is a testament to Kate’s strength, and Fey’s grounded performance. Furthermore, Fey isn’t known for being a romantic lead, but her chemistry with Greg Kinnear is off the charts.
8 Sisters (2015)
Sisters graces the viewer with the first feature film re-teaming of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler since Baby Mama. This time in a role-reversal, Poehler is the uptight, responsible one, Maura, and Fey is the hot mess, Kate. Surprise, surprise, they’re sisters who decide to throw one last party in their childhood home before their parents sell it. The raunchy comedy boasts a cornucopia of SNL heavyweights, both former and current, including Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Kate McKinnon.
Everyone has their moment in the sun, and audiences will never look at a ballerina music box quite the same way again. However, nobody shines more than the two leads. Fey and Poehler are one of the greatest comedy duos of our time and watching them get into a full-on sister fight, complete with “why are you hitting yourself?” trash talk is a sheer delight.
7 Date Night (2010)
What's the best way to sprinkle some spice into a passionless marriage? Mistaken identity and gangsters, of course. In Date Night, Tina Fey plays Claire Foster, wife of Phil (Steve Carell). When Phil attempts to liven up their weekly date night, husband and wife find themselves hilariously thrown into the world of organized crime.
Fey and Carell are both comedy powerhouses and feed off each other, amping up the funny in every scene. As the sheltered Claire, Fey gets lots of laughs when her attempts at mobster slang come off much dirtier than she intends. Spoiler alert: Claire and Phil make it through the movie without getting whacked.
6 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2017)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is bursting with Fey's trademark satirical, biting humor, wrapped up in the bubbly package of its titular character. Fey co-created this Netflix original series with Robert Carlock, who worked with her on 30 Rock. Though Fey's work on the show is largely offscreen, she's played two unforgettable characters.
The first is Marcia Clark, a parody of the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case. Kimmy Schmidt's Marcia Clark is prosecuting the case against Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm). Fey plays her as bumbling and incompetent. Though there was some criticism of the portrayal as being harsh and mean-spirited, it earned Fey an Emmy nomination.
Fey's second Kimmy Schmidt appearance was as Andrea Bayden, Kimmy's perpetually drunk therapist. Hanging out with a drunk person can get real old real fast, especially when you're paying said drunk person to listen to your problems. While Kimmy may not be getting a great therapy session, the viewer is getting a side-splitting half-hour of television.
5 This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
This Is Where I Leave You, an ensemble dramedy about four adult siblings reuniting after the death of their father, never found much of an audience. But those who managed to catch this gem will never forget Tina Fey’s scene-stealing performance as Wendy Altman, the nurturing sister. Fey's dramatic turn is especially heart-wrenching as Wendy comes to terms with a teenage romance that ended in tragedy.
But even in a quieter film, Fey can still make you bust a gut. Perhaps her most memorable scene is when Wendy gets kicked out of a hospital for punching out the man who slept with her brother’s wife. Any movie with Tina Fey being manhandled by security guards whilst yelling out, “That’s a f**king princess cut!” is worth checking out.
4 Saturday Night Live (2008-2016) - Sarah Palin
Talk about a maverick. During the 2008 presidential election, Tina Fey returned to her SNL roots to guest star as Alaskan governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Fey's impersonation was so spot-on, it would have been impossible to tell the difference between the two had it not been for the audience's laughter.
Fey's identical folksy accent and mannerisms earned her heaps of praise and an Emmy. Even after the 2008 election, Fey would drop into SNL, reprising her role and inciting a laugh riot. It turns out imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, as nobody was laughing harder than Palin herself, citing Fey's performance as "hilarious". We couldn't agree more.
3 Saturday Night Live (2000-2006) - Weekend Update Anchor
Tina Fey worships at the altar of deadpan humor...or maybe it's the other way around. In 2000, she breathed life into SNL's Weekend Update, elevating it to be one of the most popular segments of the show. Her co-anchor Jimmy Fallon, with his mischievous charm, was a perfect foil to the matter-of-fact Fey.
When Fallon departed the show in 2004, Amy Poehler filled his empty seat. This marked the first time in the show's history there were two female anchors. Weekend Update was just the beginning. The legendary duo would go on to star in several aforementioned films, and co-host the Golden Globes three years in a row. Thirteen years after their last Weekend Update segment, fans are still eager to see what they do next.
2 Mean Girls (2004)
In Mean Girls, Tina Fey plays Sharon Norbury, a down-to-earth math teacher. Though she's got bite, Ms. Norbury is one of the quieter characters in a film full of big personalities—though watching her call out Regina George in front of the whole school is a sight to behold. While Ms. Norbury may not have any of the memorable quotes—and there are oh-so many—Fey wrote the script, so every one of our favorite Mean Girls quotes is actually a Fey-ism.
Despite being over fifteen years old, the film is still relevant to pop culture today, with many fans observing "Mean Girls Day" on October 3, based on Fey's brilliant line, "It's October 3." The popularity of Mean Girls is so high that a Broadway musical arrived on the scene in 2018, earning Fey a Tony nomination. That is so fetch!
1 Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
Could Liz Lemon be anything but #1? Blerg that! The 30 Rock protagonist is a cultural icon and modern-day folk hero to working women everywhere. She's here to tell you that yes, your steamy nooner can in fact be pancakes for lunch. And don't let a guy buy you an overpriced cocktail when it's the mozza sticks you really want.
In addition to embracing her love of food and singledom, Liz Lemon is also an ace at her job. Cream cheese stains on her t-shirt or not, nobody can do what Liz does better than Liz. She knows it and she fights for what she believes in. We adore this semi-autobiographical version of Tina Fey—which really means we adore Tina Fey too.