The episode opens as many episodes ended up opening: Liz is on the streets of New York, interacting with New Yorkers. This time, she’s waiting in line to buy a hot dog when some finance-type jerk cuts in front of her. Liz retaliates by buying all the hot dogs and trying to hand them out to people on the street, who mostly throw them back at her. That moment is really Liz in a nutshell.

As she walks, an upbeat theme song plays. Some of the lyrics are, “Who’s got the kind of charisma that the boys prefer? / Who’s hot and you know that she knows it? / That’s her!” It feels like a parody of “The Mary Tyler Moore” theme, another show about a single woman working on a TV show, whose credits included someone walking to work in the midst of busy city streets.

“30 Rock” subverts this two ways, though: Liz’s walk to work is less than ideal (i.e. people throw hot dogs at her) and it turns out that the theme is really for “Pam, the overly confident morbidly-obese woman,” one of the horrible characters Jenna plays on the show.

You totally didn't remember who Josh was until you say this photo. Don't lie.

You totally didn’t remember who Josh was until you say this photo.

The song is sung by Josh, who I rarely remember was on the show, even though one time my friends and I saw him playing frisbee in Central Park.1

Anyway, in case that intro wasn’t enough to make you see what sort of character Liz is, Jack Donaghy hits Liz on the head for us: “New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happy-about-it, overscheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover and every two years you take up knitting for…a week.”

This works in two ways, because it tells us a lot about Liz,2 and because it tells us about Jack’s uncanny perceptiveness, which comes up a lot. Jack also knocks down a piece of dry wall to enter the room, which is pretty badass. He also won’t stop babbling about the trivection oven and introduces himself as the VP of “East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming,” which is a joke that never gets old.

Sort of? Maybe?

Sort of? Maybe?

Jenna says Jack reminds her of Scotty from “General Hospital,” which was really funny to me, because my mom and grandma love GH. The internet seems less knowledgeable of who Scotty is, since Google auto-filled “30 Rock’ when I searched for a photo of him to show you that he does, in fact, sort of look like Alec Baldwin, ish.3

I can’t help but wonder how I would have received this episode if it was the first one I’d ever watched; would I have stuck with it?3 No clue. But I’m surprised by how well-defined the characters are in the pilot. A lot of shows change characters a lot from the way they originally imagined them in the first few episodes or first season.5 And while the minor characters shift in and out of focus, Liz, Jack, Tracey and Jenna really don’t. I mean, they develop as characters, but they don’t have sudden shifts in characterization. That’s pretty cool.

Bits and Pieces:

Pete and the writers have a pretty strong presence in the episode, which isn’t true of the later stuff. Kenneth, meanwhile, is on screen for maybe two minutes total, but memorable utters “I just … I love television so much,” while fighting back tears. I feel you Kenneth.

Dot Com was in Tracy’s entourage, but Grizz was noticeably missing. Granted, there are like 3 people in the entourage who we never see again, so it wasn’t exactly a settled group.

Jack hits on the TGS dancers by talking to them about Afghanistan.

Liz has a Razr phone. #throwback

Best Jack one-liner: “I like you. You have the boldness of a much younger woman.”

Character I related to most: Probably Liz . She explains that she bought $150 worth of hot dogs because she “hate[s] it when people cheat or break the rules.” Right there with you.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None. I really want to keep track of this bizarre progression.

Until tomorrow.


1. I’m like 99% sure it was him.

2. Obviously.

3. Generally I find it really disappointing that “General Hospital” has fallen out of our cultural consciousness. “American Horror Story” ain’t got nothing on that campiness.

4. We’ll talk about the first one I watched when we get there.

5. Leslie Knope, Kelly Kapoor and Dr. Jeremy Reed are the first three I think of, but that’s not even close to a complete list.

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