1
Dec
2012
30 Rock: Season 7, Episode 7
Mazel Tov Dummies
Jordan
Remember how I was concerned about Liz Lemon's ultimate fate last episode? Well, I'm an idiot. "Mazel Tov Dummies" handled her wedding with the perfect mixture of pointing out gender stereotypes and being heartfelt, and reminded me that, ultimately, Liz Lemon is, as Criss put it, a human woman who is allowed to have feelings. Sure, in my mind, Liz has become a symbol of a "have it all" mentality, and I do still kind of want her to prove its possible for a woman to balance a career she loves with a home life (my mother does it, and so do many other women in my life. Why don't many of the women on my TV screens get to have it all?), but ultimately, 30 Rock won me over to the idea that whatever the ending is for Liz, it will be one she has well-earned over the course of the series. And with "Mazel Tov Dummies," it did so in the best episode so far this season.

I always say 30 Rock episodes live and die by their weakest storyline, so let's start with Jenna. This was by no means a weak storyline, even if it was slight and a complete retread. John Hodgman was there, as a man who believes he legally owns Jenna, and there were enough weird Jenna and Jack moments to carry the whole thing off. Jenna has a seventh grade education, a bullet in her jaw, a fatwah against her and is wanted by the Yakuza. For a C-plot, that list alone gave me enough laughs to walk away happy, and Jack's speech to Jenna about being past his prime was exactly the right mix of funny and poignant.

Tracy has more to do, in the continuation of his seemingly season long arc, in which Tracy Jordan learns to grow up, at least slightly. This story could have coasted on the presence of Dr. Spaceman alone, but it was pretty much a dream Tracy story, as he learns he is healthy enough to live for 40 more years and begins to put his life together (including changing his "chainsaw hat" fund into a "kid's college education" fund and throwing out his radioactive pirhana Bitey). Its all funny stuff, and it ends with Tracy gleefully recognizing his own mortality, with the help of Alec Baldwin's Harriet Tubman sexily eating corn on the cob. That I got to write that sentence alone makes this a pretty stellar episode of 30 Rock.

And then there's the wedding. It feels perfectly within character that Liz and Criss get engaged and married all within one episode, where on most other shows the process takes at least a full season (engagements and weddings both being the stuff season finales are made of). It also feels perfectly within character for Liz to rage against gender stereotypes only to admit that, of course, she wants her special day. This could have felt like a sacrifice of Liz's hyper-strong aversion to schmaltz, but this is a wedding. Everyone wants their wedding to be special, and even Liz Lemon is going to get emotional enough to want Jack there and to wear her Princess Leia dress to the alter (it's the only white dress she has, and also, she's a princess!).

Liz loves to take a stand against norms imposed on her by society, but what "Mazel Tov Dummies" reminded us is, there is a time and a place for a stand, and her wedding day just isn't one of them. I didn't expect to be turned around so quickly on the idea of Liz potentially ending her career in the series finale (which is still, admittedly, wild speculation on my part), but this episode hit every beat it needed to for me to be on board. If her life and her happiness are on the line, Liz Lemon should make the choice that will be better for her, not better for her society, and if that's the message Tina Fey wants to leave us with as the show winds down, I think its a great one.

This was a great episode of 30 Rock. I laughed throughout, it tugged at my heart strings, there was major plot movement in a plot I actually care about, and it had a moral at its center to boot. This is the show at its best, and if this quality keeps up in the home stretch, 30 Rock's final season may go down as amongst its best.

Grade: A

Notes:

-"I got a brand new business selling suicide insurance. Its going great!"

-"His name is Black Dennis? That is racist!" "Yeah, right Liz. The guy with the black baby is racist."

"I'll buy it! Sorry, I was talking to my guy at the octopus auction. I hate your idea."

-"You know who else was married? Ted Bundy!" "I don't think so, Liz." "Really? He was so handsome. Is he still alive?"

-"You can wear that wedding dress you bought." "No, I can't. I got rid of it after Hurricane Irene. I had forgotten to stock up on toilet paper, but I had remembered to stock up on seven layer dip..."

-"I remember when Bravo used to show operas..."

-"I will tell her or it that I took a stand against the wedding industrial complex. We are registered at Popcorn Palace."

-"The money I've made from your health problems has put me almost all the way through medical school."

-Also, Tracy calls water "clear bathtub juice." And now, so do I."

-"Fine. In Arizona $2,000 will by me a castle and a pillow case full of meth."

-"I always imagine getting married right when they take your picture on Splash Mountain. But weddings are about the bride, so if you want your special day..."

-"I work at the marriage bureau, but I will never get married."

-"I'm at an age that I know longer need erectile softeners..." also, "I coined the phrase, 'You wish, pal!'"

-Alec Baldwin played Harriet Tubman tonight. I think we should take a moment to appreciate that.

-"Liz Lemon is getting married! Harry Truman was right! Anything is possible!"
Tags: 30 Rock
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