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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

30 Rock: “Mazel Tov, Dummies!”

Illustration for article titled 30 Rock: “Mazel Tov, Dummies!”
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Well, it finally happened. Liz Lemon got married—and in perfect 30 Rock fashion. Before we get to the main event, some thoughts on the two short but sweet side plots. Dr. Spaceman, always a welcome guest, informs Tracy that he’s healthy. Because Tracy is used to living recklessly under the guise that he’ll die young, the news that he has at least 40 more years to live sends him into a, well, upwards spiral. For a while, this fits into the arc of Tracy becoming more and more stable as the season goes on: He brushes his teeth, gets rid of dangerous sea creatures, sobs hysterically as he plans for retirement, etc. After getting hit by a car (twice!), Tracy realizes that he can still die at any moment and quickly reverts back to his old ways. It’s an enjoyable plot but, most importantly, it gave us that beautifully disturbing scene featuring Alec Baldwin as Harriet Tubman sexily eating corn on the cob.

In Jenna’s world, a fan attempts to buy her with the Surge Cola points he’s been saving for years. He settles for the cash equivalent and Jenna is horrified to learn that she is only worth $2,000. Honestly, there isn’t much happening here and the only real highlights are John Hodgman and the small details we learn about Jenna (she only has a seventh-grade education and has a bullet in her jaw). It’s uninteresting, but it’s not bad. I’m just glad that Jenna remains completely separate of Liz this entire episode because there isn’t really a way to have Jenna involved in Liz’s wedding without stealing the spotlight.

So yes, the wedding we’ve all been waiting for. I’d been looking forward to this episode all week but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about how the show would pull it off. The wedding came out of nowhere—the catalyst was learning that Dennis Duffy was able to easily adopt a child because he’s married—so instead of a season-long arc about wedding plans, Liz and Criss go from living together to engaged to married within a half hour. And it works.

My concerns that “Mazel Tov, Dummies!” might fall into that too-sweet, forced-emotion trap that usually comes along with wedding-themed episodes were quickly assuaged by the proposal. Liz and Criss get engaged, while in the middle of mocking people, and celebrate with a windmill high five in the style of Top Gun. Blammo! It’s cute and it’s perfect for their characters.

What I liked about Liz’s inner conflict is that it isn’t, as one would expect, about her wondering if it was actually the right time to marry Criss or if she was just making an impulse decision after running into a former beeper king. Liz is absolutely sure that she wants to marry Criss. She’s just not sure how she wants to marry Criss. She protests that she doesn’t want a real wedding because, as she explains, weddings aren’t about love but instead they prey on gender stereotypes and turn women into the “Wedding Bitches” so heavily featured on Bravo. Liz’s nature is to take a stand against society’s norms any time she gets the chance to—even if it’s her wedding day. Liz doesn’t want her wedding to be a big deal, just a formality to help them adopt a child if they can’t conceive. Liz doesn’t want a fairy-tale ceremony, she just wants to wear a sweatshirt and no bra. The problem is that this time, Liz is lying and she does want what society says. She wants her wedding to be a special day and she wants to feel like a “princess” but she doesn’t know how to admit this to Criss or even to herself. Her reluctance goes deeper than just making a stand; Liz used to daydream about her prefect wedding but eventually came to terms with the fact that she may never get married. Now that she finally is, she’s not entirely sure how to deal with it.

Fortunately, it turns out that Criss knows exactly what’s going through Liz’s head (a true testament to just how well these two function as a couple) and subtly sabotages their plans at City Hall by “forgetting” his birth certificate and inviting the Duffys to be witnesses. When Liz finally admits that she wants her special day, Criss is ready to make that happen for her. A different sitcom would have dragged this out and featured a big, planned-out wedding in a later episode but thankfully, we get everything we need within the last few minutes. Dennis steals flowers from a hospital, Criss gives Liz a drug dealer’s ring, and Liz shows up dressed as Princess Leia. It’s a wedding that could only exist on 30 Rock: It’s weird, it tugs at the heartstrings, and it’s funny from beginning to end.


Stray observations:

  • For a while, before this episode was announced, I was worried that 30 Rockwas going to end with Liz’s engagement or wedding. I’m glad it came in the middle of the season instead of being the series finale.
  • I’m with Liz: I’d rank finding a sleeve of all pink Starbursts above my wedding day.
  • Someone on Tumblr has definitely already made a .gif of that Liz Lemon eyeroll, right? Right.
  • If this episode were just 30 minutes of Criss getting repeatedly hit in the balls in home videos, I would’ve given it an “A+.”
  • Tracy refers to water as “clear bathtub juice.”
  • Admission: There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Dennis Duffy. “Ergo, Affleck’s finally going to get that Oscar!” “This is the new normal!” “Mazel Tov, dummies! You’re Jewish, right Liz?”
  • Are we all happy that Liz ended up with Criss? Or are we still pining for Floyd or Carrol?