A quick review of last night’s “30 Rock” coming up just as soon as I sail an inflatable castle across the Atlantic…
“TGS Hates Women” opens with a marvelous example of having your cake and eating it too, as “TGS” is attacked for doing too many jokes about famous women getting their periods, followed by a great piece of physical comedy from Tina Fey as Liz herself suddenly gets her period, fires the entire writing staff and then passing out. Period humor can be a lazy, misogynist crutch, but the teaser’s payoff was a hilarious reminder of the axiom that any subject should be fair game for humor if you actually make the effort to do it right.
That teaser was the jumping-off point to an episode that had to tackle a whole lot of tricky questions about how women are treated in the world of comedy, whether it’s empowering or degrading for female comics (or women in general) to hyper-sexualize themselves, how and why women get hired on shows like this, etc. As others before me have already noted, the episode was dealing with a tangled knot of recent headlines and people in the news, including but not necessarily limited to the Jezebel takedown of “The Daily Show,” Olivia Munn, Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Whether you were aware of the real-life influences or not, I think ultimately the Abby Flynn storyline bit off a little more than the show could chew, and while it had funny moments (Jack bouncing on the trampoline with Abby, the weird “Sleeping with the Enemy” explanation for Abby’s persona), I think it was a case where, after the teaser, the social commentary was more interesting than the humor(*).
(*) I also have to say that, after all the complaints earlier in the season about how we didn’t see enough of the writers room anymore, these recent episodes where their presence has been beefed up while Tracy’s absent haven’t exactly reminded me why I missed them when they were being underused. I think Pete’s a good character with a lot of uses, but it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a story that focused heavily on the Frank/Lutz/Twofer trio.
On the other hand, Jack vs. a 14-year-old girl (wonderfully played by Chloe Moretz from “Kick-Ass”)? Fantastic, from Jack mispronouncing Justin Bieber’s name(**) to the weirdness of Bobert Ballard to her true colors coming out when Jack confronts her at school. Alec Baldwin is often at his funniest in this role when Jack is going up against a completely ridiculous foe or obstacle, and I think a 14-year-old schemer makes a better foil for him than, say, Devon Banks has been.
(**) Funnier NBC Bieber joke last night: Jack’s “Bee-eye-ber” or Dwight’s “Justice Beaver” on “The Office”?
What did everybody else think?