Stop group hugging. Who does that?

This might be my least favorite episode yet. Sorry, “30 Rock.” Our two plots:

1) Liz’s “crazy” college roommate Claire (Jennifer Aniston, hence the episode’s title) comes to visit, and sleeps with Jack. And is crazy.

2) Kenneth is sad that the Page Program changed its uniform, so Tracy stages a reunion of the cast of “Night Court” to make him feel better (hence the episode’s title).

The first plot is really weird and I did not remember anything about it at all. Like, I didn’t even remember Jennifer Aniston was on this show one time. I also forgot that Jennifer Aniston is actually a pretty good comedic accent, and she’s funny, but the whole thing is sort of sexist. The “crazy girl” trope is pretty silly to me. The funniest jokes was when Liz said, “She’s like a human Macarena. Something everyone did at parties in 1996.” This was even funnier because it was Jennifer Aniston. Also, Claire describes that face Liz makes when she’s angry as the “Angry Muppet face” which is brilliant.

But this plot, for me, cast in sharp relief the contradiction that is Jack Donaghy. He acts like all he wants is the hot, sexy woman, but his most meaningful relationships are with the smart, older women who call him out on his stuff. He wants to be a bro, but he’s not. He doesn’t want the crazy Jennifer Aniston.

So the second plot. I have never seen an episode of “Night Court” — it went off the air two months before I was born. But I found this tidbit of its Wikipedia page interesting:

Gradually, however, Night Court abandoned its initial “real world” setting, and changed to what could best be described as broad, almost slapstick comedy. Logic and realism were frequently sidelined for more surreal humor.

I frequently think about this in context of “30 Rock” — reality vs. surreal-ness. “30 Rock” clearly does not take place in the real world, but I’m not sure that’s apparent when you watch the pilot. This isn’t “Wile E. Coyote is a defendant” surreal (which apparently happened on an episode of “Night Court”), but weird things go down. But it’s also a very different surreal from “Community” or “Bob’s Burgers.” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” are on the more realistic side, but again in different ways. Michael Scott often falls into the completely unbelievable, while Pam Beasley is potentially the most realistic character I’ve ever seen on television.

I suppose I just find this an interesting piece of comedies. “Mad Men” and “The West Wing” and “House of Cards” and “Scandal” all are the same amount of real, I think. Sure, some of those shows are more over the top, but no one imagines all their coworkers as puppets. No workplace plays paintball for two episodes.

But comedies have this whole scale of unreality to deal with, while still remaining related to humans and human emotions. I mean, “Futurama” is perhaps the most unrealistic comedic show, but watch this episode and you’ll know that it’s connected to real human emotions. And that’s true of “30 Rock.” Jack and Liz are not real people, but white girls won’t stop talking about how much they relate to Liz (guilty). It’s interesting that they find the truth in the absurd, if that makes sense.

This episode also explicitly explores our connection to television shows because Tracy and Kenneth reunite (most of) the cast of “Night Court” in order to film a series finale Kenneth will be happy with. Tracy says:

“So you never got closure with those beloved characters?”

And I felt it. Isn’t that how I felt when “Community” got cancelled? When “Firefly” ended well before its time? Or “Pushing Daisies”? Or every time NBC tried to cancel “Friday Night Lights”? People get attached to fictional characters. I mean, I saw “Boyhood” this weekend and after 3 hours I was in love with the characters. After a season? I’m hooked.

So I think “30 Rock” was acknowledging that bond in this episode, in their own weird way. If the ending of “30 Rock” were unsatisfactory, I too would want to stage my own weird finale.

Perfect Pairing

You should go watch that “Futurama” episode. It’s not really related at all, but it’s really good…

Bits & Pieces

Kenneth freezes in a happy pose at the end of his plot, as if the episode has ended. It’s amazing.

Screenshot 2014-08-06 22.42.39

Jenna played a werewolf lawyer on “Night Court.” Jenna is unintentionally aging herself with this.

Screenshot 2014-08-06 22.36.16

Liz says she went to a cool bar called “Chili’s,” but having gone to a Chili’s pretty recently, I refuse to believe Liz, who really likes food, would give them money. Chili’s sucks.

Claire was the reason Scottie Pippin requested a trade to Houston. I laughed.

Best line: Tracy – “It’s like an owl without a graduation hat. Heartbreaking.”

Character I related to most: Kenneth, re: his obsession with “Night Court.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying:

Screenshot 2014-08-06 22.23.22

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