She entered popular culture as a princess in peril and endures as something much more complicated and interesting. Many things, really: a rebel commander; a witty internal critic of the celebrity machine; a teller of comic tales, true and embellished; an inspiring and cautionary avatar of excess and resilience; an emblem of the honesty we crave (and so rarely receive) from beloved purveyors of make-believe.
When I heard the news of Ms. Fisher’s death on Tuesday, what immediately popped into my mind was not “Star Wars” but “Rosemary’s Baby” — that unforgettable episode from Season 2 of “30 Rock,” in which she turns up as a legendary and colossally difficult television writer, Rosemary Howard.
Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker’s television critic, remarked on Twitter that the episode was “the key-to-all-mythologies of female comedy,” which may actually be an understatement. The character of Rosemary Howard certainly embodies the glories and contradictions of second-wave feminism, and Liz’s ambivalence about her is a barbed and brilliant illustration of the anxieties of female comic influence. But the casting of Ms. Fisher — whose performance on the show is somehow at once wildly winking and completely on-script — adds about 12 dimensions of meta.