30 Rock often teeters on the edge of reality, resulting in wildly silly and abstract satire that is very funny, but difficult for viewers to relate to. We are treated to several of these stories – Liz’ 80-year old dad leaving his wife to go clubbing at Swinglers, Tracy staging a cat heist, and Jenna’s disappointment that she is not famous enough for her obituary to have been already written – but there is one real exception: the Jack and Liz dynamic.
The relationship between Jack and Liz grounds the show in reality. The two don’t quite have sexual chemistry; rather, they have the partnership of a “work husband/uncle” or “a co-worker/little brother” as they each see it. As Jack and Avery discuss baby names for their unborn daughter, naturally he would approach Liz. And naturally, Liz would reject the name “Charlotte” because she went to middle school with a girl of the same name who “used to rub herself against a tree during recess.”
This frustrates Avery, who appears threatened by the intimate details that Liz and Jack share with each other. Jack views her as a close friend, but enjoys mentoring (read: acting condescendingly) to her for his own egotistical purposes.
In a sitcom, the amount of time we see these characters interact with one another can often lead to a misleading interpretation of how close they are. Jack is a senior executive at NBC, and Liz is a head comedy writer for a lowly rated sketch show. He is her boss, not her gal pal, and they only met for the first time only four years ago when the series began. They butted heads for quite a while. Perhaps him playing the role of sex-therapist last episode was a bit much.
In other slightly less believable plots, Tracy explored what it would take to change the first line in his obituary from “children’s soccer heckler” to “Oscar-winner,” with a ringing endorsement from The Today Show’s Ann Curry. In a related story, Jenna smashed Kenneth with a fire extinguisher.
- Tracy’s arrest for a “Submarine DUI”
- Dick Lemon’s latent racism. “Telephone etiquette is important, Liz. It lets people know your race even when they can’t see you.”
- First Liz’ gynecologist, now her potential cooking class teacher! Liz: “I was gonna take this class – Cooking For One – but the teacher killed himself.”
- Jenna about Mark Cuban: “That guy ran me over with a jet ski”
- More Jenna: “I played Arts & Literature in the film adaptation of Trivial Pursuit”
- “Kim Jong Il – I’ve never heard of her”
- Liz and Avery chatting in German, then when Liz realizes she’s caught, “Hey gurl…”
- Enjoyed the sad musical score, and the shot of Tracy kneeling under a real spotlight.
- The gag about Tracy googling himself seemed real.
- Pete’s creepiness factor has skyrocketed. When Cerie told him that he just asks men hitting on her if their daughters are older than she is, Pete responds, “That wouldn’t work on me.”
- Also, where has Cerie been?
- Jenna and Jack’s Interaction
- Jenna: “Dr. Drew called me unfixable,” and “NBC has the problem.”
- Jack: “Oh, I don’t think that’s right.”
- Jenna’s obituary reads, “Three-time Tony Shalhoub sex partner...”
- Jack’s potential mentor is involved in an erotic kickball league, won’t cut his hair, and needs to be constantly praised. A nice critique of our generation.
- Jenna: “Killing cats is wrong; unless it’s to make a hat!”
- Liz: “I’m wearing a Duane Reade bag as underwear”
- Liz’ comments about Jack’s baby names at the end was the best part of the episode.
- “Joanne? Ok, I look forward to visiting her and her wife on their farm”
- The best one, Liz (with lopsided glasses, talking in the voice of a 6-yeard old girl): “Hi I’m Daphne Donaghy! I saw a turtle!
- “Kylie? Great she can strip her way through community college.”
- Her most meta-line: “Every Tina I’ve known is a real judgmental bitch”