Sign Up for the Daily TV Fodder Newsletter       
buy prednisone online no prescription buy zithromax buy strattera online no prescription payday loans buy clomid buy valtrex online buy buspar no prescription buy atarax online buy diflucan buy buspar no prescription

30 Rock Fodder

30 Rock: "The Ones"

The-Ones.jpg Poor Liz Lemon. In the post for the episode "The Funcooker," I talked about Lemon's Mary Tyler Moore-like qualities--namely her efforts to find her place as a working woman in a world still very much overrun with working men. It seems in today's world that a woman can become successful by being sexy--like supermodels and...regular models...--but rarely does success itself validate a woman in the eyes of our society. Even the successful Mary Tyler Moore was also quick-witted and cute-as-a-button. Lemon is all of those things, too, but in many ways she's perhaps a more realistic portrayal of what Tyler Moore was trying to capture. Lemon is smart, funny, successful, and attractive--yet, as we saw several times in this episode, she's simply not seen as anything other than a good friend. A "bro," as Jack's would-be fiance Elisa (Salma Hayek) put it. "Face it," said Jack. "You're the closest thing to a man working here right now." Ouch.

In the opening scene of the episode, Jack has dragged Liz into a jewelry store to help him pick out a ring for Elisa, whom he has decided is "the one." (A term that he came up with himself, in that eccentrically-oblivious Jack way.) When Jack says that he's looking for an engagement ring, the snooty salesman takes one look at Liz and, with what little professionalism he can muster, says to Jack, "Are you sure?" Liz is maybe slightly offended by this, but as usual she doesn't stand up for herself. She apparently can't see her own self-worth, and therefore doesn't see anything worth standing up for. It's telling that the salesman says to Jack that she's " a show horse." In the world of 30 Rock, (but not the real world, of course) someone like Lemon--a woman who doesn't flaunt her femininity or simply pout and pose next to her man--is dismissed, seen as less-than. The salesman doesn't just compare her to any animal, but an animal whose sole purpose is to look good and impress people. Apparently that's all he sees when he looks at her. I don't know if the writers had all of this in mind when writing the scene, but that doesn't mean the truth of it isn't still in there. It may seem like an awfully deep way to look at a comedy as silly as 30 Rock, but as any good comedian will tell you the best jokes come from a place of truth. In most of 30 Rock's best moments, the absurd is used as a way of bringing to light unfortunate truths about our culture. Sometimes it's corporate greed or political corruption. Sometimes it's prejudices and racial stereotypes. Sometimes it's just the fact that life sucks. The truth revealed in the words of the salesman seems to be that, no matter how far we've come in the last 300 years, women in this country are still seen by many as flesh and blood accessories, meant to accentuate the virility and machismo of the male to which they are attached.

But this time-honored bigotry is coming up against a new trend, one perhaps borne from the very equality that women have fought so hard for: the idea of men as arm candy. Everywhere on TV, from Desperate Housewives to The Bachelor to CSI: Miami, women are depicted asserting their equality by treating men as nothing more than glorified sex toys, pieces of meat that can also lift heavy things. In 30 Rock, nowhere is this attitude better expressed than in the character of Jenna Maroney. Always on the lookout for a man, Jenna's only stipulations seem to be that he is good-looking and straight. Oh, and he can't have sole custody of any children. As we've learned from "The Ones," that's a deal breaker--no matter how many people had to almost die for her to hook up with him. Women like Jenna have, essentially, started acting like men. Is this our idea of equality. You don't beat the establishment by joining it. You have to break it down and build up something new. Luke could've easily stopped the fighting if he had just joined Darth Vader on the Dark Side. Sure, it would've meant the end of the rebels and ensured the eternal continuation of the Evil Empire, but it would've finally put he and ol' Vader on equal-footing, right? Technically equality under the law means everyone has the right to act like asses. But is that really what we're all striving for?

Happily this is a trend that Liz, by dumping the beautiful-but-vapid Drew in "The Bubble," has proved she is above. While she may lament moments like in the jewelry store, coming face-to-face with her own worth, Liz still has her standards. She may not know what she wants, but she knows how much she's willing to pay for it. And dignity is a price too high.

Similarly, in this episode Jack and Tracy both had to decide how much their "ones" were worth. For Tracy, that meant deciding if he was okay with getting a tattoo of his wife's face, even if it meant no more "socializing" at clubs (i.e., hooking up with hot chicks). But in a surprisingly dramatic moment (short, granted, but still dramatic), Tracy revealed to Jack that he's never once, in 20 years, cheated on his wife. He loves her too much. She's "the one." (Something he made up after watching The Matrix, he tells Jack.)

Not only does this inspire Tracy to go ahead and get the tattoo, but it inspires Jack, too: For him, the price Elisa was demanding was loyalty. She killed her former husband for cheating on him--something that Jack started to worry he might accidentally do if they were to get married. But after talking with Tracy, he too realizes that love is more important than his own needs, and decides to pay the required fee.

Unfortunately, it doesn't end up working. Despite his newfound loyalty, Elisa ends up just being too crazy for him. Crazy in love, but crazy nonetheless. They both agree that they can't be together until her love for him is just a little less powerful. Ironic that this conversation takes place in Liz's apartment, with Liz sort of standing in the background. I mean, there's a good reason for it. Liz is Jack's best guy friend. Of course he would go to her as soon as he came to his realization. He wanted to tell her the good news. But I wonder how aware Liz is of her role as "bro" in Jack's life. Or rather, I wonder how okay she is with it all. Honestly, she doesn't seem to complain. Does she really have so little self-respect that she wouldn't feel at least a little rejected when Jack continuously dismisses her to others as being any kind of sexual interest to him? I'd like to think the writers, by including so many of these kinds of moments in recent episodes (the same thing is happening on Bones this season), are building us up to a moment when Liz will finally demand to be seen for the woman she is--smart, successful, and sexy. Sure, I may be looking for meaning where there might be none intended, but contrary to popular belief, TV isn't written by robots (except for The Eleventh Hour). It's written by real people, with real problems and issues and opinions; things that inevitably influence their writing. If it didn't work that way, they wouldn't be good writers. So 30 Rock may be just a ridiculous, absurdist comedy. But that doesn't mean it isn't also true.

Posted by Bobby Bierley on April 25, 2009 9:20 PM
Permalink |

More Recent Stories:
30 Rock: "Season 4" Review
30 Rock: "Season 4" Preview
30 Rock coming to Comedy Central!
30 Rock: "Kidney Now!" Belated Review
30 Rock: "Mama Mia"
30 Rock: "Mama Mia" Preview
30 Rock: "The Natural Order"
30 Rock: "The Natural Order" Preview
30 Rock: "The Ones"
30 Rock: "The Ones" Preview