I’m saying the Disneyfication of New York is over, everyone. At the stroke of midnight, your Lexus is going to turn back into a hot pile of rats fighting over a human finger.

So while I was watching this episode, Mallory Ortberg, who’s very funny on Twitter and is in charge of The Toast tweeted this:

As y’all know from my frequent rankings of Liz’s love interests, I TOTALLY AGREE. Gray was so tall and handsome. He was maybe a little too hip for Liz, but it still seems like a missed opportunity.

Moving on to the topic at hand, our episode:

1. Liz has to retrieve her phone from a cabbie in Queens, even though he wants $2000 for it, it contains “an adult photo” of her that Drew took.

2. Tracy goes on Larry King just as the Asian markets suddenly downturn. Larry asks him about it and his answers cause mass panic and rioting in New York.

3. Elisa wants Jack to commit. He tells her he loves her, so she decides to skip her vacation in P.R. to be with him. But when he goes back to work to deal with the aforementioned mass panic, she leaves him. He finds her on the street and proposes, but in the morning she chalks it all up to the crazy emotions they felt during the fake crisis and goes to P.R., telling him they need space to think.

Jack’s plot really focuses on the tension he feels between wanting to be the playboy executive who doesn’t take things seriously and wanting to love someone and be with them. His attempts at commitment are initially framed mostly as a way to finally have sex with Elisa (I was actually really happy that this was the framing, since last episode left me wondering how super Catholic Elisa was OK having sex with Jack), but by the end of the episode he’s visibly upset that Elisa doesn’t want to be engaged right now.

Also, he made them swag with their couple name on it. That’s a man in love.

Screenshot 2014-08-17 20.59.28

 

Liz has to tell Kenneth they’re friends so he’ll go to Queens with her.

JANIE JIMPLIN

JANIE JIMPLIN

When she tells him they aren’t friends, he leaves, only to return and declare his friendship once more. The taxi driver makes fun of her because all the numbers in her phone are work numbers: Does she have any friends?

Does she? There’s Jack, and sort of Jenna, sort of. She confides in Pete sometimes, but rarely do they interact in a meaningful way on camera. By the end of the series, I’d say she really does love her co-workers, but I’m not sure she’s got more than Jack right now.

But I also don’t think that’s as depressing as I made it sound just now. Aristotle thought we could only have as many friends as he could live with — we need that constant contact to keep us together. Jack and Liz constantly contact, making their friendship particularly strong. And I generally believe in quantity over quality.

Still, Jack and Liz continue to search for more. Though, on the whole, season 3 has been way more concerned with Jack’s existential crises than with Liz’s. Jack’s a much more dramatic person though.

Bits & Pieces

Best Frank hat: Emotional Friend

Since Elisa won’t have sex with Jack, Liz bros out because she’s had sex two more times than Jack this year. Things are going well with Doctor Drew, obviously.

After the taxi driver asks Liz for money:

Liz: I’ll definitely do that. On opposite day.

Taxi driver: I’m new to this country. Is that a real thing?

This is an epic Jonathan episode, in which we learn so much about him:

  • He calls him and Jack “Jackonathan.”
  • He keeps a VCR in the office so he can watch Jack’s old football tapes.
  • He secretly tapes himself in Jack’s office playing the flute shirtless.

I will be so sad when Jonathan pulls a Josh and goes mysteriously missing.

Tracy calls himself a “devil’s avocado.” This is funny to me because, in French, the word for lawyer and avocado is the same. Avocat.

Liz knows all the German words to “99 Luft Balloons.”

We never see Liz’s birthday, but Kenneth informed us it’s in November.

Best Jack line: ” I was about to do the whole run to the airport thing like Ross did on Friends and Liz Lemon did in real life.”

A ranking of Jack’s love interests from best to worst: Elisa, C.C., Condaleeza Rice, Bianca, Maureen Dowd, Phoebe.

Elisa, like Nancy will later, helps Jack deal with all his repressed Catholicism.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: His favorite lullaby as a child was “The day is done my sweet for the lambs have been decapitated.”

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I found it on my favorite website: Stop showing off Dotcom.

This is obviously not the best Valentine’s episode — we’ve got to wait a season for that one. But it’s still a funny, funny episode.

Our plots:

1. Liz goes out with Jon Hamm – on Valentine’s Day. And then everything moves too fast — he sees her boob, he sees her poop, she meets his daughter, his mother confesses a terrible secret to Liz before dying. Awks.

2. Jack wants to take Elisa out for Valentine’s Day but she insists on going to church first. He uses confession to torture a priest with stories of sex, including confessing to have gay sex with Dick Cheney. It seems they might break up, but McDonald’s McFlurries, the greatest dessert of them all, reunites them.

3. Kenneth falls in love with a blind girl but can’t manage to speak to her, so Tracy does all the talking for him. This is already funny because Tracy’s Kenneth is amazing. Dotcom, Grizz, and Jenna (and Jeff Richmond!) are all recruited to help fake a nice French dinner. After the dinner, blind lady touches Kenneth’s face, realizes he’s ugly, and peaces out. A vain blind person. Only on “30 Rock.”

First, it’s really just a pleasure to see Jon Hamm as not a total jerk, like he is on “Mad Men” and in “Bridesmaids.” I don’t feel bad for liking him. Jack points out how insanely attractive he is, hoping he’s not a serial killer who plans on eating Liz, which seems like an appropriate way to address his insane good looks.

While I find the way they’ll end this relationship very funny (we’ll get there), it sort of logically doesn’t fit in with the way he’s characterized before then, like in this episode.

Also, I noticed that Liz is wearing this really pretty necklace with two circles with L’s on them. Google makes it seem like other people noticed this before now, so I don’t know how I missed it.

Jack, meanwhile, sort of deals with his Catholic demons for neither the first nor last time. Elisa hilariously asks him, “Don’t tell me you’re one of those convenient catholics that only goes to church every Sunday.” This is funny because most “religious” Catholics think the convenient ones are those who only go on Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter. (I know that explaining the joke makes it not funny, but I’m too Catholic to let that one slip.)

But also, shouldn’t Elisa have figured out Jack’s not very Catholic by now? “30 Rock” isn’t too interested in continuity, but that sort of annoyed me.

Anyway, Jack’s God is capitalism, Elisa’s is God, and both their Gods lead them to the same McDonald’s to buy McFlurries. Worse things could happen.

Perfect Pair

Bits & Pieces

“30 Rock” is very obsessed with Michael McDonald. In “Cleveland,” Tracy mentioned wanting to do a Michael McDonald cover album. In this episode, he forces Jenna to do a Michael McDonald impression. And a few years later, he shows up in an animated “30 Rock” webisode.

Dotcom is in love with Grizz’s fiance. All tidbits on info about Grizz and Dotcom are greatly appreciated by me.

Best Elisa line ever: [Translated from Spanish] I’M SO MAD AT YOU THAT I’M YELLING AT YOU IN SPANISH JUST LIKE RICKY RICARDO.

Best ’00s reference: Jon Hamm’s daughter has bracelets whose colors code to the sex acts she has performed on her bus. I remember, in 6th grade, a boy telling me that my bracelets meant sex stuff and being really offended. For more info on this hilarious “parents freak out about nothing” moment, read Wikipedia.

Tracy refers to the blind girl as Kenneth’s Ms. Magoo. As an avid lover of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, I don’t know how I never noticed this, but Imr. m laughed a lot this time.

Everyone’s favorite selectively blind cartoon character!

Character I related to most: Jenna, who is alone on Valentine’s Day and has nothing better to do than serenade Kenneth and blind girl.

Hi Jeff!

Hi Jeff!

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: HE HAS A SECOND MOUTH ON HIS BACK. It’s sewn shut, but….

I don’t think you should come to my cousin’s police academy graduation or my other cousin’s parole party. Boy, I hope those two don’t eventually have a showdown that pits family against justice.

Another great episode. It’s looking like season 3, after an ehh start, is, in fact, my favorite season.

But before I talk about this episode, I want to tell you that today I saw paradise.

30rock

This wasn’t my first time by 30 Rock, obviously, but I still couldn’t help but get excited just seeing it there. And I figured this blog deserved a record of my hijinks.

Our plots:

1. Elisa’s grandma hates Jack because he looks like the bad guy on her telenovela, The Generalissimo. He gets Sheinhardt to buy the show so he can change the character and make grandma like him.

2. Liz accidentally gets the mail of her neighbor, who, she discovers, is a divorced doctor who loves “Muppets Take Manhattan,” “Caddyshack,” and “a document about how pies are made.” She uses the mail to turn herself into his ideal mate, with disastrous results, including accidental roofies.

Also, did I mention it’s Jon Hamm?

Screenshot 2014-08-15 21.16.49

3. TGS has new interns — former Wall Street bankers who have no skills but partying, but Tracy struggles to keep up with them. He buys and reopens Lehman Brothers so they will leave him alone.

I really appreciate Jack’s plot because everything had gotten so heavy with him lately. We’re taking a step back from the edge of his mid-life crisis-ness and having fun again!

Also, I will offer an anecdote to vouch for the validity of this plot. My own grandmother also has a crazy love of soap operas. She now hates James Franco because he played a serial killer on “General Hospital,” her favorite show, and he was really mean to her favorite character, Jason Morgan. Any time James Franco is mentioned on the news or in a commercial, she mentions how much she hates him.

Soaps are serious.

Meanwhile, Liz continues her socially awkward streak. It’s the crazy, surreal conclusion of what we’ve all done. OK, what I’ve done — pretend to like something because the person you like it into it. But who can blame her for going crazy in order to get a chance with Jon Hamm?

And Tracy’s plot actually only brings home my point from yesterday, that this show is lampooning rich white men just as much as anyone else. Finance bros really are as awful as “30 Rock” makes them seem.

Perfect Pairing

“Arrested Development” has had a lot of episodes with roofies; G.O.B. even starts calling them “Forget-Me-Nows.” But I just watched the episode with the first roofie-centric plot last weekend: “For British Eyes Only.”

Bits & Pieces

Jack: Only the special tours get to see Conan without his wig.

Running gags about Conan are the best.

Jack blames Nancy Pelosi for the economic downturn.

The Generalissimo is the spokesman for everyone’s favorite fake Cheetos:

Screenshot 2014-08-15 21.25.00

 

Jack doesn’t believe Metrocards are real.

Tracy hates the bro life: Have you ever tasted scotch? It’s terrible! And this thing they call box seats at the Rangers game? It’s so cold!

Jack gets Liz to write the soap scripts and Elisa has to edit out the “Star Wars” references.

Jenna has both been drugged and drugged other people.

Abuela tells Jack NBC news is too sad, so the TODAY Show adds a segment that’s just pictures of cute Latino babies. Matt Lauer is not into it.

Character I related to most: Liz when she ends her description of her seduction plan with, “AND THEN I WILL PUT MY MOUTH ON HIS MOUTH.”

An updated ranking of all of Liz’s love interests from best to worst: Drew, Gray, Stewart LaGrange, Floyd, Dennis, Jamie, Conan, Gretchen the lesbian, that guy Wayne Brady played, Gavin Volure.

Drew skyrockets to the front because he’s so full of promise. The promise will be quickly squandered, but #spoilers.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None.

Just do it. Is it in you? I’m lovin’ it.

Sorry for the two day break, but I’m back and better than ever!*

*Cannot be confirmed that I am better than ever.

“30 Rock” remains phenomenal though. Let’s break it down:

1. Jack is afraid to go on the Annual “Retreat to Move Forward” because he’s afraid his old friends won’t like him since the CEO debacle and his stint in the Bush Administration. He brings Liz along to be his buddy, but is pressured by his Six Sigma buddies to abandon her. She remains a good friend to him. I have feelings.

2. Dr. Spaceman informs Tracy that he might have diabetes:

Screenshot 2014-08-14 20.59.31

Kenneth tries to get him to eat vegetables. He fails, until Tracy sees a witch who’s really Jenna.

3. Jenna has decided method acting is the key to her Oscar, so she acts just like Janice Joplin. Except her only source is Wikipedia, which Frank has been hacking to sabotage her. She freaks out on him, but he’s turned on by her messiness and they bang. But THEN she wants him to not tell anyone until it seems that he’s too embarrassed to tell anyone, so she tells everyone. But all the older, female members of the crew are in love with Frank, so they sabotage Jenna. Hence she looks like a witch.

Plot 1 is the main plot, and it reminded me that I used to think Six Sigma was just a joke “30 Rock” made up. It is not, though considering what Jack names the 6 pillars of Six Sigma as — teamwork, insight, brutality, male enhancement, handshake-fulness and play hard — can I really be blamed? “30 Rock” also frames the retreat as summer camp for grown ups.

And that’s when I realized something. I’ve been thinking a lot about how prestige dramas are into serious stories about serious white men and how I’m not into it. This article from xoJane — “I’m over critically acclaimed white dude television” — helped me realize how silly this is.

But if “30 Rock” were a different show, Jack Donaghy would be the serious white man at the center, struggling under the pressure of being too successful, trying to find happiness, and struggling with his mommy issues. Liz would be his mentee, the upstart young woman struggling to make it.

Oh wait, this show literally exists and it’s called “Mad Men.”

Which, for the record, I really enjoy. There’s even a Tumblr that puts together “Mad Men” photos and “30 Rock” quotes.

But “30 Rock” is basically saying, “Oh, all that really important corporate stuff those other shows take so seriously? It’s a joke. It’s summer camp, it’s high school. It’s petty and weird, and we are going to point it out.”

And that’s so powerful and subversive! I always think of “30 Rock” as parodying more of a “Sex In the City” rom-com thing, which it is (and Tina has talked about) that I never really thought of where Jack fits in. Jack is Don Draper or Roger Sterling shown for how ridiculous they are.

And I like it.

Perfect Pairing

This was really easy to figure out once someone asked Liz what level she was at the retreat. The perfect pair is a “Community” season 5 episode called “App Development and Condiments” where someone invents an app called MeowMeowBeenz where you rate everyone you know. The school turns into a dystopian hierarchy based on the ratings. And, like almost every “Community” episode, it gets to questions of friendship and connectedness, just like “30 Rock.” It was one of my favorite episodes of the season, and you should watch it.

Bits & Pieces

I really just love Jenna as Janice/knock-off Janice.

This episode twice shows Liz doing an impression of the title character from the movie Sling BladeI had never heard of this before today. It was written by and starred Billy Bob Thorton and he won an Oscar for it. What.

Best Frank hat: Pinball Mechanic

Tracy looks forward to potentially losing a foot because then he can have a wheel for a foot, like Rosie on “The Jetsons.”

Best part of Jack’s mirror pep talk to himself: “You’re Jack Donaghy. Titan. Maverick. Lover.”

Best Jack diss: He calls Liz the second half of a Judy Blume novel.

Tracy’s list of white myths: A link between diabetes and diets, Larry Bird, Colorado

I’m still standing by my theory that Jenna and Frank would make a great couple. But dating Frank would also humanize Jenna and make her less of a sociopath, I think, and “30 Rock” is not interested in her being a real person.

Character I related to most: Liz. I am awkward and also try to be a good friend!

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: It’s unclear that the story he makes up about the witch is actually a made up story. Stone Mountain is a scary place.

I also really like this episode. A quick skim of Netflix summaries for the rest of the season showed that I am a huge fan of the second half of season 3. And the first episode I ever watched is approaching.

Our unifying theme is that everyone at 30 Rock is getting the flu:

1) Liz doesn’t want to get the flu because she’s going on vacation, but then her vacation is cancelled, so she doesn’t want her flu shot because the crew won’t be getting any. But then her vacation is back on and she gets one. The crew, who had given her a meat plate as a sign of their appreciation, turn on her.

2) Jack wants to see Elisa, but she works 7 days a week. So he spends time with her while she treats a catonic old man, who they bring around town with them.

3) Tracy and Jenna want to do something nice for the crew since they’re sick, but they’re incapable of doing nice things. Instead of getting soup or medicine, they give the crew “the best medicine”: laughter.

So Liz continues to be incredibly socially awkward, Jack tries to be happy, and Tracy and Jenna are still sociopaths.

I’m too tired and sad to write anything else.

 

Socially inept and baby crazy. I feel like I’m in a beer commercial.

“30 Rock” continues the riff its been on lately as Liz tries to be politically correct and screws up royally and Jack continues to struggle to figure out what happiness is. And Jenna tries to get herself cast as Janice Joplin in SheinhardtUniversal’s Joplin biopic.

Screenshot 2014-08-10 20.37.43

So Liz accidentally meets Stewart LaGrange (Peter Dinklage) when she mistakes him for a small child. Awkward. Infinite love for Peter Dinklage though, who get to show off some his comedy skills here:

I am so handsome and nerdy and actually perfect for you, Liz.

I am so handsome and nerdy and actually perfect for you, Liz.

Liz tries to act like this isn’t awkward and that the whole thing isn’t doomed from the start, but it is. She tells him to meet her on the Brooklyn Bridge, just like in the “Sex And The City” movie, just to make sure. She starts summarizing the movie to him and he quickly gets bored, which is funny because I spend a lot of time summarizing movies to people who don’t care in order to make a point that is only slightly interesting. I get you, LL.

But then at the bridge she mistakes him for a child again. Baby crazy, socially inept, and super single.

At least P-Dink gets to say the iconic line:
Screenshot 2014-08-10 20.53.54

Meanwhile, Jack, having realized during the last two episodes that his view of his career and his family have been totally screwed, turns toward love. He meets Elisa (Salma Hayek) his mother’s nurse, who scoffs at him for giving up on love (This is symbolized in his date with a Fox News correspondent during which she eats a bowl of chicken broth and some ice water).

And then he finds a lump on his testicle, which makes him reconsider his life. He thinks he’s in love with Elisa and maybe love was important this whole time. Side note: Jack really needs to watch more Disney movies or romantic comedies or something. He’s basically the only person who needs to be exposed to more realistic expectations about love.

The lump is benign, but he’s inspired to go for love too, just like Liz, except his doesn’t involve any tragic misunderstandings.

And this sets us up for the Elisa-Jack relationship, which I always liked. We’ll see if I still like it this time around.

Jenna’s movie doesn’t have the life rights.

Bits & Pieces

Best Tracy Morgan movie title: “A Blaffair to Rememblack.”

I forgot there was a small Tracy subplot where Jack tries to get him a post-nup with Angie because he keeps spending his money so she won’t divorce him. He has gold shoes and this shirt:

Screenshot 2014-08-10 20.35.35

Character I related to most: Liz. Baby crazy and socially inept.

An updated ranking of all of Liz’s love interests from best to worst: Gray, Stewart LaGrange, Floyd, Dennis, Jamie, Conan, Gretchen the lesbian, that guy Wayne Brady played, Gavin Volure.

Yes, Liz’s hang-ups about his height make this relationship not work, but he’s handsome and nerdy and very compatible with her. He’s into “aggressive and nerdy women.” Swoon.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None.

If all you want is a hug from a black person maybe you should just host “The Price Is Right.”

Before I dive into this completely amazing episode, I want to talk about Kay Cannon. So, I always see her name in the “30 Rock” credits as a writer-producer, but never looked to see who she was. And then after I watched this episode, I put on the end of “Pitch Perfect” and the credits immediately told me that movie was written by Kay Cannon! And she’s writing the sequel. Basically, all the funny people awards for Kay Cannon, because “Pitch Perfect” is an amazing movie. She also writes and EP’s on “New Girl.” I hope she came up with True American.

IMDB tells me that this was a more relevant tangent than I thought, because she co-wrote this episode with Tina.

Moving on!

Two main plots:

1) Liz participates in a program to buy Christmas presents for underprivileged kids, but then she thinks she got scammed.

2) Jack accidentally hits his mother with his car, so Colleen is staying for Christmas. He’s afraid he really tried to kill her, so he makes TGS do a Christmas Eve special so he can stay away from her.

The first part is funny. The second is funny and touching.

In the first, Liz is overcompensating because her parents aren’t spending Christmas with her this year:

Of course I’m gonna wrap them, because that’s what you do on Christmas. What you don’t do is call your daughter on December 22, and tell her that you don’t really feel up to hosting Christmas this year, because she’s 38, and you thought that she’d have “her own family by now.” And that instead, you’re going to a couples-only retreat in Arizona, the theme of which is “sexy at 70.”

It’s unclear what her brother is doing for Christmas this year.

So she buys presents for underprivileged kids, and brings them to their apartment uptown at 245th Street and Lawrence Taylor Boulevard. (These is only a 245th Street in Queens, so wow “30 Rock.”) But kids don’t answer the door; adults do. Liz decides to go back and call them out for being scammers, but then kids answer and she tells them she bought their Christmas presents:

Screenshot 2014-08-09 22.46.18

You tried, LL.

Meanwhile, Jack waited 8 minutes from when he hit his mother to when he called an ambulance, so he’s pretty worried about his subconscious murderous urges.

But he really just doesn’t want to let her ruin another Christmas. His childhood was apparently filled of creepy Christmases where she hit on some guy while she played piano. Man, bitterness about the past sound familiar…

JACK IS ELSA

JACK IS ELSA

But then he realizes that her man friend was FAO Schwartz, and she would seduce him every Christmas to buy her kids presents. Aw?

Screenshot 2014-08-09 22.50.14

It ends with a touching song, so what more can we ask for? Nothing.

Perfect Pair

We need something Christmas-y, nostalgic, and emotional. I’ll pick the last Christmas episode of “The Office,” which involves the traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch and Dwight and Pam’s mutual sadness that Jim works in Philly.

Bits & Pieces

Liz has been working on an impression of Nic Cage as Saint Nick.

One of Colleen’s suitcases is just wigs. Diva.

We finally pay attention to Sue for a second in this episode:

Screenshot 2014-08-09 22.29.44

Pete reveals that his parents got divorced when he was 9, ruining every subsequent Christmas. This maybe helps explain why he never divorces his wife, despite his unhappiness. Though, that’s always felt like his personal mental problem more than their marital problem.

Jeff Richmond appears again as the piano player. Apparently his character is named Alonso.

Screenshot 2014-08-09 22.39.42

Jenna really shines at Christmas.

Character I related to most: Jenna, singing Christmas carols for attention

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: He and his brother went to Neverland Ranch. Eek.

The ugly duckling has turned into a vaguely ethnic swan.

And we’re back with a great episode. Jack does this amazing thing where he spirals out of control while giving good advice and being very wise. There’s something to be said about vulnerability in this episode, and “30 Rock” in general, which I’ll get to in a second.

First a summary. Our plots:

1) Don Geiss wakes up and Jack assumed he’ll be CEO in a flash. Instead, Don Geiss tells him he’s staying on as CEO. Jack reconsiders every life choice he’s made, since he’ll never get the job he’s been aiming for his whole life.

2) Liz goes to her high school reunion and Jack comes along. She wasn’t really the nerd — everyone considered her a bully. Jack is mistaken for a beloved classmate. Donna Moss from “The West Wing” is his fake high school sweetheart:

Screenshot 2014-08-08 20.25.27

3) Tracy and Jenna freak out because Kenneth is funny in the elevator and stealing their attention.

All three plots are very funny. But I want to talk about this seemingly unrelated article by Caitlin Dewey in WaPO, called, “The surprisingly profound reason why teenagers love YouTube celebrities.” (For the record I don’t like that headline because it sort of implies that teenagers being anything but dumb and vapid is a surprise, which, as a former teenager, is not true. But my rant about societal mistreatment of teenagers is for another time.)

Anyway, Dewey’s “surprisingly profound reason”:

[Teens] were captivated by the idea of “realness” in a way their parents or grandparents were not.

“Authenticity is becoming more important among teens and millennials,” Sehdev said. “They’re more jaded as a generation.”

To wit, teens in Sehdev’s survey overwhelmingly agreed that traditional celebrities were “faker” than YoTube stars. They felt YouTube stars were more engaging, “extraordinary,” humorous and relatable. …

There was a time when we would have defined celebrity by exactly that quality of not being real — of being perfect and distant and unattainable, a kind of hyper-glamorized demigod that we mortals could only aspire to. In fact, historically, the fact that celebrities were not like was the very thing that made them celebrities.

Does wanting authenticity make you jaded? Jaded doesn’t seem like the right adjective. Anyway, I generally agree with this conceit that teenagers and millenials want more authenticity from their celebrities. I wrote about this a year ago, in the context of Donald Glover/Childish Gambino, if that interests you.

In context of this episode, Liz, Jack, Tracy and Jenna are all dealing with inauthenticity as a barrier to their happiness. Jack calls Liz out for using humor as a way to keep herself from engaging with others; in high school, she used it as a barrier against what she perceived as bullying, but actually it made her the mean one. Liz is alone and unhappy because she won’t be authentic with anyone.

Meanwhile, Jack is realizing how unhappy he is and how inauthentic his life is. He envies the Pennsylvanian who tells him his boat, good friends, and a trampoline are the keys to his happy life. He thinks he can “win” the disappointment if he doesn’t show his feelings:

What are my other options? Cry? Wallow? If i do that Geiss and the beam win. If I control my feelings I win.

Talk about conceal don’t feel, amiright?

Currently taking donations to buy Photoshop

Currently taking donations to buy Photoshop

Meanwhile, Tracy and Jenna are sort of realizing that they’ve set their happiness on always being the center of attention, and maybe that isn’t as stable as they once thought. Of course, they manipulate the situation back to what they consider normal, but there’s a moment where they sort of confront their fears. Sort of.

Since this is “30 Rock,” no one really learns the lesson of authenticity. Or, if they learn it, they definitely don’t figure out how to apply it to their own lives (see seasons 3 through 7).

But that’s more realistic, I think, than if they learned the lesson and moved on. Human experience is trying and trying until one day, somehow, you manage to get it right. Ish. That’s Jack and Liz.

On a more meta-level, I think Liz is a very authentic character, and that’s why, as I might have mentioned, so many girls think they’re just like Liz. Real humans are messy and gross. They eat junk food, they have frizzy hair, they get frustrated, they go temporarily insane and need their best friends to pull them back in. This isn’t Carrie Bradshaw or Claire Huxtable (I love you Claire, but you’re ***Flawless). Liz is a mess and it’s refreshing.

And Jack is also a mess! A huge trope of early sitcoms is the patriarch at the center who answers everyone’s problems: One of the first was literally called “Father Knows Best,” and the trope reappears in everything from “The Brady Bunch” to “The Cosby Show” to “Full House” to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” And at times it shows up on “30 Rock” with Jack as the mentor instead of the father.

Except Jack is extremely unhappy and totally floundering in his own life. He rarely gives good advice. This episode is a notable exception, since he urges Liz to open up to people and to stop using humor to distance herself. He also tells her to stop thinking of herself a nerd because she’s actually cool and pretty, the “vaguely ethnic swan.” I think this has something to do with the fact that he’s finally vulnerable here. Cut open, he can see through the bullshit and give good advice. To quote my friend, “That’s when he’s giving advice as a human being and not a corporate caricature.”

And that’s why this show is so unendlessly quotable. Tina (and Robert Carlock and the other writers, obvi) took our deepest fears and put them in witty sentences. “30 Rock” might exist in a surreal universe, but there’s more than enough human emotion there to keep things real.

Perfect Pairing

Before Donna Moss showed up, I was already planning on picking “The Long Goodbye,” the episode of “The West Wing” where CJ Cregg goes to her high school reunion. CJ also struggles with authenticity and opening up and expressing emotion, though in a less hilarious way.

Bits & Pieces

Jonathan is totally willing to kill Kathy Geiss for Jack, especially since it would be “a secret that bound [them] together.” What a keeper.

Kathy is amazing, as always:

Screenshot 2014-08-08 20.02.25

Liz utters this iconic line for the first time in this episode, responding to the promise of popcorn on the G.E. jet:

In the same scene, this amazing forehead kiss happens:

I will go down with this ship.....

I will go down with this ship…..

When Kenneth cries out of sadness that he hurt Jenna and Tracy’s feelings, she tells him to keep crying so he never does it again. What a keeper.

Jack and Liz end up in a closet during 7 minutes in heaven:

Jack: Just to be clear we’re not making out that would be social suicide.

How platonic of you, Jack.

Best Jack one-liner: “Rich 50 is middle class 38.”

As Jack and Liz flee the reunion, Liz says, “Lemon out.” Best line.

Jenna sings in an elevator for attention:

Screenshot 2014-08-08 20.29.35

Character I related to most: Liz, when she introduces someone as “the first gay guy I ever kissed.”

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: None? Those elevator jokes sucked, though.

This is the most exciting day of my life and I was once pulled on stage to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

I also forgot this episode existed. On the one hand, I want to blame binge-watching for my memory gaps, but, again, this just wasn’t that great of an episode. I mean, better than most of television! But not particularly memorable.

Our plots:

1) Jack’s friend Gavin Volure, a rich recluse, falls hard for Liz. She’s into it because he’s germaphobic and won’t touch her, and all she wants out of a relationship is someone to watch TV with.

2) Except Gavin is really a criminal under house arrest, and he steals Jack and Kenneth’s money. Jack tries to get Kenneth’s money back.

3) Tracy is afraid his kids are trying to kill him and uses a Japanese sex doll as a body double.

It seemed sort of unfair that Jack got to run around with Jennifer Aniston last episode, and this episode Liz gets Steve Martin, who’s like one of the not hot famous old white guys. Though she will get a really attractive boyfriend this season so…

The Tracy plot was honestly the funniest:

Screenshot 2014-08-07 22.50.46

And then at the end Tracy and his sex doll did a “The more you know” PSA about discrimination against sex dolls:

Screenshot 2014-08-07 22.54.40

Also there was a LOT of Jack-Liz this episode. Jack tells Gavin that Liz is single and “I told him you used to have a thing for me but are getting over it. That is what’s happening, right?” Then, after he realizes Gavin lied, he promises to “hit him harder than a bottle of Irish whiskey at a wake.” And he tells Gavin that Liz is too good for him.

The latter two comments could easily just be platonic, except that that first comment happened too. I guess it’s supposed to be a reflection of Jack’s arrogance, but I don’t know.

Bits & Pieces

Best Frank hat: Role model

John McEnroe was in this episode. It was random, but I liked it.

Kenneth has $4000 in Confederate money.

I miss Josh.

Three great lines about rich people/capitalism:

Gavin to Jack: You’ll be so rich you can run for office without pretending to be a fundamentalist!

Jack to Kenneth: Next stop home ownership! I’m kidding, the middle class is dying. You’ll rent forever

Kenneth to Jack: What would this country be if the economy didn’t allow rich people to take advantage of rubes?

JACK WRITES HISTORICAL FICTION THAT IMAGINES WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THE GERMANS WON WORLD WAR II. What a nerd.

Hints that Kenneth is immortal/mystical/terrifying: Well the Confederate money seems pretty suspect.

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