Monday, November 14, 2016

30 Rock: Like a Liz Lemon Party



Saturday, I posted about my wife and I watching the new Netflix series The Crown and about a month ago, I did a series of posts on the Netflix original series Stranger Things. 

While Netflix gets all the publicity for the new stuff like the series mentioned above and more such as Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards, it's still a cool way to get caught up on classic stuff like long running series from network television. This past summer, my daughter Randie binged on Supernatural which was like 11 years worth of stuff. It was not uncommon to come upon Randie with blood shot eyes muttering things like, "I can't believe Dean is...and Sam would not....then Castiel did this thing and....that Crowley really is...".  Well, it makes sense to her. 

Meanwhile, my series of choice for catching up on is the modern classic NBC comedy, 30 Rock, created and written by and starring Tina Fey, my future second wife.* 

*For some reason, my current wife Andrea objects to this. Women! Go figure! 

The show ran for 6 season and right now I'm about a 1/3 the way through season 4. Unlike some people I know who had an entire summer off dedicated to watching a certain supernatural themed series, I don't have that kind of time. I usually get in 4 half-hour episodes at a time, about once a week. Which to be honest is about my limit for this sort of thing. Maybe binge watching is a more of a millennial thing but no matter how much I love something (and I do love Tina Fey...I mean, 30 Rock. Tina Fey IN 30 Rock), there's only so much of something I want to experience at a time.  

Many years ago, my first wife Andrea* and I went to a carnival where we rode on a Tilt-A-Whirl ride. Sometimes it seems that with carnival rides, it barely starts before its over. Not this ride. We kept going around and around and around and around. And around. And... around. We went from "WHOO!" to "Whoo!" to "Whoo" to "Wh-" to "Get me off this thing already."   

*This is not funny. - Andrea

Getting back to 30 Rock, the show is centered around a woman named Liz Lemon who is the producer and head writer of a (fictional) sketch variety show on the (real) NBC network. Liz has to deal with a lot of nut cases at work and a quirky alpha male executive named Jack Donaghy but those messes are nothing compared to the trainwreck that is her life away from the show. Liz is a pop culture nerd who really doesn't have a lot of patience for what one might call "girl stuff". Her ideal guy would fall asleep before sex. Liz is a wonderfully realized comic character brought to life by Tina Fey, my future second wife.*

*I agree with Andrea. This isn't funny. - Tina Fey 

Jack is played by Alec Baldwin who threads the needle with a character that is full of the powerful bluster of a white man succeeding in a white man's world yet has his own quirks and flaws that threaten to reveal him as a human being. He's decided to mentor Liz Lemon but the lessons don't always take hold the way he intends. Meanwhile her world of actors, writers and the consumption of illegal snack foods from Mexico intersects with his in ways that shakes his foundation even as he is still determined to stand firm on that foundation.  

Tina and Alec frequently steal the show which is quite a feat considering Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski are also on in the cast. Tracy and Jane play two extremely high maintenance performers on Liz's sketch variety program, both with extreme needs to be the focus of attention and capable of creating bad consequences for themselves and others when they are not.  

The really strange character in the 30 Rock ensemble is Kenneth Parcell, an NBC page whose last name could very well be DePage. Kenneth is a soft spoken native of the backwoods of Georgia with a deep and unflinching love for people and television. Yet there's something not quite right about that Kenneth boy. Could that sunny, loving exterior hide a dark secret? Kenneth is in many ways a cartoon but Jack McBayer's portrayal is nuanced and empathetic.  

Here are some random one liners from the first 3 seasons of the show. 

Jack: [to Liz] I like you. You have the boldness of a much younger woman.

Tracy: Dress every day like you're going to get murdered in those clothes.

Jack: Whenever I have a problem, I tackle it head on. A year ago I was an inch and a half shorter. Sheer willpower.

Liz: (to Tracy) Wayne Brady has three Emmys. You have a People's Choice Award... that you stole from Wayne Brady.

Liz: (about owning cats) I can't, I'm allergic to anything warm and adorable.

Tracy: I do not want to disappoint our Japanese public, especially Godzilla. Hahaha! I'm just kidding; I know he doesn't care what humans do.

Liz has a real obsession with food.

Liz: WHERE'S MY MAC AND CHEESE!?
Liz: WHERE'S MY SANDWICH?!?!
Liz: I don't know how, but you're gonna get me another sandwich. Or I'm gonna cut your face up so bad, you'll have a chin. YOU'LL ALL HAVE CHINS!

You don't mess with Liz's food stuff. In many ways, Liz Lemon can be such a guy. 

Elisa: (one of Jack's girlfriends) I have a terrible secret. Please don't ask me what it is.
Liz: I don't want to know what it is! [Pause] Are you a man?
Elisa: Really, Lemon? You want to see me naked?
Liz: Kind of.

Jack: Elisa is deeply religious. 
Liz: If I had those knockers, I'd be thanking God too. 

Liz: There is an adult picture of me on that phone. 
Kenneth: Adult? You mean like you're driving a car or wearing a suit? 
Liz: It's a boobies picture, Kenneth, and I only kept it because for once they were both pointing in the same direction. 

Some of the funniest exchanges on the show come up between the straight laced executive Jack and naive innocent Kenneth.  


Kenneth: Oh no sir, I don't vote Republican or Democrat. Choosing is a sin, so I always just write in the Lord's name.
Jack: That's Republican. We count those.


Kenneth: [Excited about cable TV] There's a whole channel on the cable that just tells you what's on the other channels!
Jack: I know, Kenneth. It's okay.
Kenneth: Is SpongeBob SquarePants supposed to be terrifying?
Jack: You're darn right he is, Kenneth.


Kenneth: I've had to send more money home lately. There are problems on the farm. After years of inbreeding the pigs are getting violent and the pig shield around the house has worn thin.
Jack: Kenneth, how much money do you have in your savings?
Kenneth: Well, let's see. [looks in his coffee can] Eighty thousand dollars!
Jack: If you don't include Confederate money?
Kenneth: Four thousand dollars!

But let's not forget the star of our show, my second future wife Tina Fey* as Liz Lemon.

*Seriously, cut that out. - Dave-El's Computer

Tracy: So, what's your religion, Liz Lemon? 
Liz: Hmm, I pretty much just do whatever Oprah tells me to. 

Liz: [dressed up as Princess Leia] I don't think its fair for me to be a juror, because I can read people's thoughts. 
Judge: Dismissed! 

Jenna: Yeah, but this is different because I know Jack Donaghy. I know what he likes. 
Liz: Yeah. So now you just have to make yourself 10 years younger and Asian. 

Kenneth: I did it! I saved the show! Now I won't have to go to News. 
Liz: And I won't have to be the world's worst hooker! 
[scene changes to an alley where Liz is leaning into a car wearing a sweatshirt and a blue wig]
Liz: You wanna party? It's $500 for kissing and $10,000 for snuggling. End of list. 

And to wrap things up, a few examples of why Tina Fey is as sexy as she is funny. 







And that's a wrap for this post on 30 Rock. Tomorrow, my attention turns towards Supergirl as I look at the new season on the CW so far and the show's take on the subject of identity including a bit of groundbreaking for one of the main cast. 

You know what? Let's hear from Liz Lemon one more time.

Liz: I'm really sorry about what I did. And I know you can't forgive me but just to even things out, here is all my weird secret stuff. I have been sexually rejected by not one, but two guys who later went to clown college. I get super nervous whenever I hear a vacuum cleaner because when I was a kid, my mom used to turn on the vacuum to drown out the sound of her and my dad fighting. Which is why I rarely vacuum my apartment. Like, never. I have had three doughnuts so far today. Once in college, I pooped my pants a little bit at a country steaks all you can eat buffet and I didn't leave until I finished my second plate of shrimp. A couple months ago, I went on a date with my cousin. Wow, I am a mess. There is an 80% chance that in the next election I will tell all my friends that I'm voting for Barack Obama but I will secretly vote for John McCain. Here's one: when I was a kid, I used to put on my fanciest nightgown and then I would mix orange soda and cream soda in a champagne glass and I would sit in the dark and watch The Love Boat. Consequently, I have some weird sexual fantasy stuff about Gopher from The Love Boat. And I lied. I have had five doughnuts today. 

Thanks for reading. Remember to be good to one another. 

Liz: There ain't no party like a Liz Lemon party, 'cause a Liz Lemon party is mandatory. 

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