Tonight featured both Michael Scott and Liz Lemon in exile. When we last checked in with the gang at 30 Rock Liz had just been suspended from work for two weeks for accidental sexual harassment. I kept trying to explain to people that all of my sexual harassment is accidental as well but my argument falls on deaf ears. Needless to say, Liz does not take it well.
Without the show to give her direction and purpose Liz ends up irritating doormen and women and generally radiating desperation/craziness. Then she meets a creepily confident middle-aged woman who introduces her to her similarly wealthy, carefree friends and ushers her into a decadent estrogen-fueled paradise of daytime champagne drinking, frequent trips to the spa, Botox and other pastimes of the idle rich and the richly idle. Liz was jonesing for the action and insanity of 30 Rock but once her new pal shows her that life can be a permanent vacation, not unlike that Aerosmith album, Toys In The Attic, she comes to understand that not working can sometimes be even more fun than working.
In the episode’s other big thread Jenna’s increasingly bizarre, increasingly non-Janis Joplin-related quasi-Joplin biopic polls very poorly so Jack decides to try to save the project by 2Pacing its star; that is, faking Jenna’s death for the sake of good publicity. We got a lot of great crazy Jenna moments in tonight’s episode, like her cheerful offer to “leak” a sex tape where you can just barely make out a dude robbing Jenna in the background and the revelation that Jenna’s bizarro-world Janis Joplin movie now prominently involves vampires and Woodstocks.
I also very much liked a sequence at the Kid’s Choice Awards where Jenna is upstaged by the backpack from Dora The Explorer and gets included in the death roll alongside several beloved kid show fixtures though I was disappointed that a gag involving Helen Mirren getting slimed (the You Can't Do That On Television homage made me the cheap nostalgia receptors in my mind light up like a Christmas tree) before introducing the sober memorial tribute featured someone who vaguely resembled Mirren from a distance. The 30 Rock of three months ago could easily have gotten the real Mirren to humiliate herself for the sake of a throwaway gag but I guess a little of the show’s heat has faded.
Some of my favorite moments in tonight’s episode involved an uncharacteristically sober, serious Tracy Jordan solemnly introducing a Jenna memorial. Tracy is so indelibly branded as a lunatic that seeing him behave like a responsible, mature adult feels wonderfully subversive and wrong. Of course Jenna wasn’t having any of it, especially once the tribute reveals her “real age”, not her “actress age”.
I love me some Kenneth but does he need to have a story in every fucking episode? Granted, the jokes about Meredith Viera sexually harassing him were funny but otherwise a C-story about Kenneth developing an unrequited crush on a Girly Show dancer was a bit of a non-starter.
There was something intriguingly off about Liz’s new friends from the very beginning. Nobody could enjoy their life that much, especially in the 30 Rock universe so it was only a matter of time until their dark secret was revealed. I thought the big reveal that Liz’s seemingly blissful new social circle was actually a deranged collection of fight club enthusiasts who beat the shit out of each other as a way of feeling something other than numb pain was a satisfying way to end Liz’s misadventures outside the workplace. I initially thought the cougarish contingent might have been a cult. I wasn’t that far off.
In college I found myself quoting the Indigo Girls extensively, always in a mocking fashion (my favorite line was “I went to the mountain/And I went to the fountain”) so I loved, loved, loved the way Indigo Girls lyrics kept reappearing. I tend not to like the pop culture-reference-as-punchline school of comedy, finding it glib and cheap, but the Indigo Girls’ lyrics are so quasi-profound on the surface and so deeply moronic just underneath that the running gag worked much better than it probably should have.
All in all, this was a very solid episode though I too was disappointed by Frank’s hat. “Constant Craving”? That was certainly in keeping with the episode’s obsession with famous lesbians (The Indigo Girls, K.D Lang, Janis Joplin, Dora The Explorers’ backpack) but Frank definitely could have done better.
—Favorite lines/moments. Let’s hear em.
—Jane Krakowski reminds me a little of Anna Faris in being both a great comedienne and a beautiful woman with an incredibly refreshing lack of vanity.