Liz Lemon you are blowing up like a balloon with a grenade in it.

Things have been sort of crazy the last few days, so I fell behind. Sorrz dudes.

(But I did see Mike Birbiglia’s “Thank God For Jokes” tour and I cannot recommend it enough. Watch My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend on Netflix, at least.)

Also! I’ve been reading this book The Comic Toolbox that one my besties got me as a graduation present, and it’s really great. So I’m going to use one of the frameworks it taught me — its deconstruction of comic conflict — to talk about this episode and what makes it work and not work.

Our first conflict is between Jack and Liz. Jack pitches Liz the idea of a Dealbreakers talk show, produced by him. Jenna and Tracy advise her to shop around though, and not let Jack take advantage of her. Jack is hurt by her decision to get an agent and see her options.

Thus, the main conflict in this plot is interpersonal. Two best friends both want the same thing — for Liz to be successful — but are unable to communicate this to each other and get caught up in petty things. My screenwriting professor always called this contact/conflict — two people want to contact each other, to be together in some way, but instead they fight. It’s always more interesting when two people who care about each other fight than it is when two strangers do.

But this plot has the two other forms of conflict — global and personal. When Liz argues with her young, inexperienced agent or gets dinner with a very annoying producer, the conflict is with the entertainment industry writ large. And Jack and Liz are both innerly conflicted: What matters more, business or their BFF?

Of course, all these conflicts are handled hilariously. Jack gets Padma from “Top Chef” to host the show, since that will ruin “Top Chef” for Liz. The agent and producer Liz deals with are amazingly horrible. And their reconciliation is framed like a rom-com ending:

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my perfect babies

So this plot works not only because it’s hilarious but also because the audience is really invested in their friendship.

But the second plot is a lot less stream-lined. Cheyenne Jackson has arrived as the new castmember, but he won’t let Kenneth help him do things. Kenneth is thrown for a loop. Jenna and Tracy then realize that all the people they are mean to might be their bosses one day, so they don’t want to use Kenneth either. Kenneth realizes Danny is the problem and gets Danny to yell at and insult him, thus making him “an actor.” Then he gives the actors waffles.

So what’s the conflict here? Kenneth is in conflict with Danny because Danny is being nice to him, but Danny doesn’t actually take part in that conflict until the very end. Then he’s also in conflict with Jenna and Tracy, which is a little stronger because Jenna and Tracy are worried, but again, it’s sort of weak. The main conflict here, then, is Kenneth’s inner turmoil about not getting to help the actors, and it’s wrapped up with him basically asserting, “I will help you because that’s what I do.”

And now I understand why I didn’t love this plot. It was boring and lacked compelling conflict. There were some good gags in it though, like Jenna and Tracy’s problem solvers tee shirts and the two major hints at Kenneth immortal terror:

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And when Danny says Kenneth will be head of the network one day. *foreshadowing*

Bits & Pieces

I sort of vaguely miss Josh, but wow Danny is so much better. So attractive.

The Chinese knock-off of “Dealbreakers” translates Liz’s name to “Lesbian Yellow Sourfruit.”

The TV show “Sports Shouting” is almost too on the nose.

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Best one-liner: The future is like a Japanese game show, you have no idea what’s going on.

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