In one of the first moments of the episode, Jack tells Liz, “I would like to become a resource for you to improve your personal life.” He then tries to set her up on a date.

She responds, “It is completely inappropriate for you to be questioning me about my private life.” Imagine her saying that in season 3, let alone season 7. Character development!

This is the first episode that focuses on Liz’s status as a single woman; Jack sets her up on a date with another woman, mistaking Liz for a lesbian. The shenanigans are only sort of funny. This was definitely the least enjoyable episode so far.

But, it’s a good chance to talk about my biggest “30 Rock” pet peeve: the show’s insistence that Liz Lemon is unattractive or undesirable.1

tina-fey-young-photos

This isn’t even that weird, considering!

Tina Fey wasn’t hot her whole life, but few people are. Here’s her high school yearbook photo, which is mostly funny because of her hair and the dramatic pose; my mom was posed similarly in her high school portraits.

In the more unfortunate photos of her young adulthood, which you can easily Google, she’s wearing some weird clothes or has some less than flattering hair cuts, but by 2006 she was basically completely out of the awkward phase. Her hair looks good most of the time in this episode!

But let’s pretend that Tina Fey/Liz Lemon isn’t at least of above average beauty — which I think she is. She’s also funny, smart, and the head of her own television show. Liz even has an Emmy!2 She’s a “catch” — which is a weird thing to call someone.

“30 Rock” tries to paint her gross in other ways: She eats junk food, she dresses poorly most of the time, she … loves mozzarella sticks? None of these are really that weird.

Every white girl thinks she’s Liz Lemon, and that’s partially because Liz is pretty normal. She’s so weird that she likes eating and watching TV and isn’t always graceful or well-spoken and puts off doing her laundry … like a normal person.

And, like a normal person, she’s often times unlucky in love. But it’s usually not because she dresses weird or loves Sabor de Soledad,3 but rather because she’s neurotic and needy and lacks self-esteem sometimes. Like a normal person.

I might be using a strange definition of normal, because no really great, iconic sitcom character on a show like this is “normal” the way Betty Draper would imagine, but what I mean is that Liz is like lots of people I know.4 She’s not nearly as weird as they try to make her seem. A lot of her humor comes from how hilariously she states the things I’ve always thought.

And she’s not ugly! Jack calls Liz unattractive all. the. time.5 It’s just not true, and I’ve never understood the show’s over reliance on this. Maybe they constantly say it in an attempt todepict Liz as an every(wo)man, loser-type, the underdog who somehow makes it through with (some of) her dignity intact, but usually those moments just ring false to me. Or, I have to suspend my disbelief and act like Tina Fey could be considered ugly.6

Tina Fey is in hair ads, damn it. Ugly people aren’t allowed to do that.

Bits & Pieces

There are two Dennis references in this episode! In the more memorable one, Liz and Pete discuss her ex-boyfriends.

Pete: There was the guy who played Halo under the name Slutbanger.

Liz: Dennis.

Pete: There was the tall, gangly, red-haired guy who played guitar all the time.

Liz: Conan

Appreciate that continuity on her past with Conan.

When Liz asks Frank for love advice, he tells her to act more like woman in porn, which maybe explains why Liz opens up to Jack’s attempts to help her.

Liz one-liner of the episode:

Her lesbian date, who she becomes obsessed with says, “I can’t be around you anymore. Bye, Liz” and Liz replies, “That’s funny because that’s what the guys always say.” Like I said, this was a pretty weak episode.

Character I related to most: I guess Liz? The prospect of being single until I die by choking on something alone in my apartment is pretty terrifying.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Watching this episode for the first time, it probably just seemed like Jack was paranoid about Kenneth because he didn’t have a tell in poker, but, watching it over again, it’s foreshadowing. Jack, after becoming obsessed with figuring out Kenneth’s deal, concludes, “In five years we’ll all either be working for him or dead by his hand.” *cue dramatic music*

1. Liz’s undesirability is more hinted at in this episode than stated outright, but the undercurrents are pretty strong, so I’m running with this.
2. Which I’m almost positive is only mentioned in this episode when Frank uses it as his bet in a poker game. Still, it exists.
3. Everyone’s favorite Cheetos knock-off.
4. Like me!
5. There’s an argument to be made that Jack calling Liz ugly actually demonstrates more about his twisted worldview and incredibly high standards for female attractiveness than it does about how attractive Liz really is, but Jack isn’t the only one who makes these comments, so this argument doesn’t hold up well. 
6. In defense of “30 Rock,” they’re not the only show or movie to do this. In “The Spectacular Now,” which I otherwise loved, Shailene Woodley doesn’t believe her boyfriend when he says she’s pretty, which is absurd, because she is gorgeous. There’s even a TV Tropes page about this! Though, again, I disagree with their description of the Liz situation. Totally agree about “The Mindy Project” though. (I’ve spent a lot of time reading this website.) 

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