One of the great joys of watching 30 Rock is seeing if you can catch all of its nuance. Sure, there’s a lot of broad comedy. But there is also such a rapid-fire succession of pop culture references, skillful homages and sly satires that seeing how many you can identify almost becomes a sport. And this week, damn, were they flying. From the cold open of a trailer for one of those generic everyone-in-the-world-is-in-this-rom-com-named-after-a-holiday movies to YouTube’s “Charlie Bit My Finger” kid and the faux Sex and the City foursome, if you blinked you probably missed something quite funny in this episode. Possibly even two things.
AFTERELLEN BAIT (What enticement did the episode use to reel in gay lady viewers?)
Emma Stone guest stars in a spoof trailer for Martin Luther King Day. Also, you stopped reading after I said Emma Stone and were impatiently waiting for the screencap, didn’t you? So here it is.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS! (Did the episode give you a lot of feelings?)
One of the most persistently perplexing premises of 30 Rock has always been that Liz Lemon and Jenna Maroney are supposedly best friends. Why would hard-working, nerdtastic Liz be friends with self-centered, crazytastic Jenna? Well, this episode actually solves that. But first, following its rom-com structure, there has to be a conflict that breaks the two apart. In this case, it’s a can of red PETA paint to the face to Liz, who Jenna tricked into dressing like her to avoid the paparazzi.
So they break up and then realize they were right for each other all along. But not before Liz finds her doppelganger in negative judgmentalism and Jenna finds her doppelganger in fameball idiocy in Knob Kardashian. As the two explain when they finally reunited in their run-into-each-other’s-arms-while-cheesy-music-plays happy ending:
Liz: You’re supposed to be so vacant and self absorbed you just let me vent without piling on.
Who are we, after all, to question why a friendship really works.
MAKING LEMON-ADE (What were the best Liz Lemon antics of the week?)
Leave it to Liz to find her new bestie at the Barnes & Noble bathroom. Also, leave it to Liz to tell a gaggle of cosmo drinking Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda wannabes, “Man, do my feet hurt in heels sometimes, and other things women talk about.” But my favorite Lemonism of the night was her descriptions of Boss Liz and Friend Liz. “Boss Liz is all, ‘Paperwork, paperwork!’ But friend Liz is all, ‘My feet hurt, I’m staying in tonight!’”
HEY, NERDS! (How much delightfully nerdy funny business was there?)
The B story of the week was about Jack eliminating the NBC page program, but then finding he needed pages to take the blame for his dumb mistakes. And the C story was about Tracy still wanting presents for his birthday, even though he already has everything. But, really, what this week was about was catching all the references/appearances. So, let’s list a few: Valentine’s Day/New Year’s Eve, Andy Samberg, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Mankind, Prairie Home Companion, Sex and the City, The Hunger Games, Phillie Phanatic and Steve Earle. And those are just the ones I caught.
So, what did you think of the second helping of 30 Rock last week? And if leeches really do become a Hollywood beauty fad, I quit.