Our three plots:
1. Cerie’s announcement of her engagement helps Liz realize that she’s baby crazy.
2. Jack tries to avoid his mother, who won’t stop calling.
3. Tracy is angry that Josh keeps impersonating him.
Plots two and three were both funny. Jack’s stories of his mother’s shenanigans (see below) were funny, and watching him stress eat to cope with it was hilarious (see below). Meanwhile, the Tracy/Josh plot has to be the most screen time Josh ever gets on the show, and he did a good job with it. Too bad it’s fleeting.
But I want to talk about the Liz plot, because I think it’s at the center of both the character and the show.
The episode begins with Jenna trying to sing “The Greatest Love of All” at her birthday party, which provides great foreshadowing for the episode: “I believe the children are out future.”1
The young, beautiful Cerie interrupts to announce her engagement, and Liz worries that she’s too young. Cerie’s reasons for getting married are pretty solid though:
“We both wanna have babies while it’s still cool.”
“You can have a career any time, but you only have a short period to be a young, hot mom.”
Liz counters that there are other things that matter, like working, your career, your job, working… Oops. By the episode’s end, Liz admits to Jack that he was right all along: She does need to work on her personal life. If this seems like a cliche, don’t worry — “30 Rock” subverts it in the end. Liz proclaims, “Maybe it’s impossible to have it all … But if anyone can figure it out, it’s me!” Then Jack points out the elevator she just got on is going in the wrong direction. Oh nerds!
This gets to the key reason why I love Liz. The question at the heart of “30 Rock” is about what it means and what it takes to be happy. And as a workplace comedy, the two main characters, Jack and Liz, often define happiness as professional success, only to find that interpretation lacking.
I would like to suggest that as a 21-year-old woman at the beginning of her career who recently graduated college, I feel so much pressure to focus just on my career. Leaning in doesn’t leave time for a boyfriend, or friends, or looking at World Cup tweets when you should be focusing on your work. But those are the things that make us happy.
So although I’m not as baby crazy as Liz — who accidentally steals a baby — I relate to the struggle she showcased in this episode, the struggle at the heart of the character’s journey. It speaks to an experience I’ve seen older women have, and a journey I now embark on. You don’t care that you’re single, but you feel sort of alone. You’re happy you have so much work, but you also want to goof off. Liz handles it with absolutely zero social grace, which is refreshing.
But since this is “30 Rock” it’s also really funny, especially as people put themselves forward as potential baby daddys.2 The funniest offer comes from these three amigos:
Can we just imagine Liz’s babies with these guys ?
Baby Lemon-Lutz would be the most socially awkward, sheltered child ever. Lutz would be strangely protective and Liz would be so uptight all the time. She would also spend a lot of time regretting her choice of mate
Baby FrankenLiz wouldn’t help her mellow out either though, because she would be so afraid that Frank would scar the child for life with his lackadaisical/misogynistic ways that she would become his polar opposite. That kid is going to make a very lucky therapist very rich.
Toofer’s right: his baby with Liz would have a better chance at getting into Harvard. But at what cost? What cost?3
Bits and Pieces:
If I were giving out awards for season 1, Jonathan would be Rookie of the Year. Or most underrated character. It’s not what he says, but the way he says it — and the way he silently responds to what Liz says.
Best Ridiculous Sketch Title: “Jazz Police,” which apparently stars Jenna
Things we know about Josh: He does a surprisingly good Tracy impression. Tracy tasered him once. He does an adequate Jack Donaghy.
Jenna and Liz have a girls’ night at Liz’s complete with red wine and cake, and I think it’s the only time we see Jenna at Liz’s apartment ever. Liz apparently gets sad when she drinks red wine, another thing I can relate to…
Jack stress eating moment of the episode: When he fills his pockets with m&m’s from a candy bowl
Colleen Donaghy badass moment of the episode: When Jack tells us, “My mother tried to send me to Vietnam to make a man out of me. I was 12.”
Foreshadowing: Grizz approaches Liz with flowers to offer to be her baby daddy.
Jenna told “Life and Style” her favorite book is the Quran.
Tracy-ism of the episode: “This is untoward! This is not toward!”
Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: When Jack tells him to go to hell, he says, “Thank you.” Jack interprets this, but perhaps Kenneth is such a lonely immortal that he would appreciate any death, even if it means eternal damnation.
1. Let’s take a moment to honor what a beautiful singer Jane Krakowski is. OK. ↩
2. Rachel Dratch even offers to be her surrogate. ↩
3. In real life, Toofer’s wedding was written up in “Vows” in The New York Times and it sounded really sweet. Also, I have an unhealthy obsession with this column, and have considered doing a Nate Silver-esque statistical study of it. One day.↩