15
Nov
2012
30 Rock: Season 7, Episode 6
Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy
Jordan
I've complained a fair deal about Hazel Wassername in this space (Though never, to be clear, about the immensely talented Kristin Schaal). "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy has most of her worst and most grating tendencies at its center. But you know what? I didn't care. Hazel's weirdness has made me laugh before, and she had some of her greatest lines in this episode. Maybe its because we are in the home stretch of 30 Rock, or maybe I'm just feeling generous, but I thought that "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy" was a very fun episode of the show.

Liz needs bunion surgery this week, which acts as a weird, hilarious metaphor for how her life will change when she has a child. Jack advises her to hire an assistant, and Hazel jumps at the chance to serve...especially since she can gain access to Liz' computer and keep her away from the set long enough to get on TGS. Ultimately, this isn't a Hazel plotline though, and that may be what saves it. This is the classic 30 Rock conundrum, where Liz must choose between her personal life and her professional life. Tonight, she kills her foot babies to save her show, but she has a realization that she cannot possibly run TGS and raise a child at the same time.

If the final message of 30 Rock is that Liz Lemon can't have it all, that she cannot juggle a personal and professional life and find happiness in both, I will find that at least moderately upsetting. Tina Fey is an exemplar for women in show business (frankly, for anyone in show business), moving from head writer of SNL to creator and showrunner of the critically beloved 30 Rock, getting married, having two kids, writing and starring in some movies and releasing a memoir in the process. Tina Fey has it all. So to end her series with her stand-in leaving her dream job because she can't balance that with a family would be disappointing.

I don't think that it would hurt my overall opinion of the show, however. As much as 30 Rock is populated with caricatures and cartoon characters, Liz Lemon is a real human being, whose struggles we have witnessed for the last seven years, and whose life as the showrunner of TGS has been a waking nightmare we have been able to laugh at even as it caused Liz untold stress, pain, and suffering. Liz admitting she can't manage the madhouse anymore wouldn't feel out of place for the character, and her choosing a life with Criss and a child would actually count as a happy ending in a way that staying at TGS might not. Sure, it would hurt long time fans of the show to watch Liz leave her job--even Sam Malone decided to keep Cheers open so we could imagine the antics would continue after the show ended--but that doesn't mean it isn't the right choice for the character.

All of this is wild speculation at this point though, and only tangentially related to the hysterics happening all over "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy." The best portion of the episode is given over to the struggle between Tracy and Jack, after the latter discovers the villain in Tracy's newest movie (which he wrote, directed, edited, starred in, and did the make up on all in one weekend) is modeled after him. Jack tried to get Tracy to remove the film from circulation, and to cease production on its sequel, even going so far as to bring a libel suit against Tracy. But our Mr. Jordan is surprisingly adept at outmaneuvering Jack, proving that everything the villain does in the movie is based on actual actions Jack has taken, even going so far as to give proceeds from the film to an orphanage so that if Jack stops the movie, he will have closed an orphanage just like the villain in the film. I like that the show occasionally reminds us that, though he is completely insane, Tracy Jordan isn't dumb. He is a very successful actor who has navigated Hollywood and found his way to the top. The man EGOT-ed just years after running naked down the street screaming "I am a Jedi!" But, Tracy's moments of lucidity last only so long, and when Jack tells Liz to turn to the real genius in the room for advice, Tracy tells her "respect these boobies!" The three share a classic sitcom laugh, and a great episode of a show that will certainly rank among the classics comes to a close. I have my concerns about where 30 Rock is going in these last few weeks, but only because I care so much about Liz Lemon. And wherever it goes, I am pretty certain we will all get some laughs along the way.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-"Johnathan, google Jack Donaghy black laughter."

-"Lemon, do you think I'm a villain?" "Well, I have heard you say 'Guards, seize him!'"

-"Hey Grizz, hey Dot Com. Can you get me a black coffee...and by that, I mean a Sunkist." "How could you think we're Grizz and Dot Com?" "'Cause I don't see race, you white bastards."

-"I went to Princeton." "I neglected a Tiger." "I'm on the board of the New York Philharmonic." "I'm friends with Phil Harmonic, the worst rapper of all time."

-"After seven years and hundreds of these episodes, its like 'let's move on'..."

-"What if you do have a kid and you have to leave work because your daughter shot her choir teacher's husband? I mean, that's the kind of stuff my mom had to deal with..."

-"Sisters helping sisters, glass ceiling, legitimate rape..."

-"So please enjoy a 4 hour long rendition of the theme song from Sanford and Son"

-"I was good. Until I hit puberty and the coaches said I got too pregnant..."

-"I'm going to take every penny you've got." "Not the ones I swallowed." "We'll see about that."

-"What? You did cancel a program for urban youth. It was my Saturday morning kid's show, Uncle Tracy's Black Teletubbies Rip Off." "I cancelled it because, like you, it was overly sexual and impossible to misunderstand." "Grabalusia!"

-"I'm Will Smith-ing my daughter. Her album drops next week."

-Biggest laugh of the night: What it looked like when Liz missed one show.

-"Why are my arms so weak? It's like I did that push up last year for no reason..."

-"You people killed my foot babies! My foot babies died because of this show!"

-"Help me, me!" "This one's on you, bitch!"

-"Oh yeah. They didn't write anything."

-"Did you not watch the whole movie?" "Well, it is 47 minutes..."
Tags: 30 Rock
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