Episode 16 - TGS Hates Women
28 February 2011
Synopsis: Liz is upset to learn that TGS is perceived to be portraying women badly. She hires a guest writer called Abby Flynn and is upset to meet her. Flynn behaves like a "sexy baby" to get lots of male attention and Liz tries to teach her a lesson about female empowerment. Meanwhile Jack has begun to look for ways he can take over Kabletown one day. He finds the likely inheritor of the empire, the fourteen year old granddaughter of Hank Hooper and tries to steer her towards a career in marine biology.
The Good: There's always comedy value in Jack feuding with anyone. The reason being because he takes those feuds seriously and therefore it's easier to buy into the silliness. So here we get him ending up in a grandstanding stair-down with a teenage girl which was a fun visual. In fact Kaylee could be a fun nemesis if she returns to taunt Jack in future episodes. You can't help but smile at him mispronouncing Justin Bieber in an attempt to impress her. Jack plots often involve some genuine heart too and here we got him wondering if he should have pursued his dreams (of being an oceanic explorer) instead of sticking with business.
The Bad: I don't understand why every guest star on the show has to be insane or deeply weird. There is never any context for them being weird either, they just say things which are obviously not true. That's it. So here we have Bob Ballard giving gold to Poseidon and gibbering on about ice cream headaches and other nonsense. You have to give a tiny hint that maybe he is like that for those jokes to work.
As for the Liz and Abby plot I thought it was horrible as usual. I'm not living in the US and so haven't followed whatever Daily Show, Olivia Munn, Sarah Silverman, female writers \ comics story which Tina Fey has but I don't see why any hint of that is needed on 30 Rock. This isn't a topical news comedy show. It's not a sketch show. It's a sitcom and this one is meant to exist in the real world. But Tina Fey wants to show off how clever she is by including all this feminist comedy discussion and the result is an awful plot with awful jokes.
The main problem with this is the same stuff I've been writing for years. Abby isn't presented as a real character, we don't get to know her and her "sexy baby" routine was too over the top to be funny. But this also failed because the plot went back to the old "Liz is always wrong" formula and in the end Abby is on the run from her violent ex and that's why she put on this crazy persona. First off, if you are on the run then don't get a career in show business. Secondly why is Liz being ridiculously wrong funny? If we are supposed to take some moral message about Liz being a meddling know-it-all then that point conflicts with her being the central character. If it was meant to be a clever twist then it wasn't.
As for the opening joke about "oh no my period" - I just don't get it. I don't mean I don't understand it, I just mean that's not a joke. Women don't behave like that, never have, it's the kind of goofy exaggeration which a child might make. So what's the joke? Liz is such a weirdo that she does do silly things like that and that's all she knows how to write? Good one.
The fact that Jack's plot showed an empowered female of a different kind did not make the episode thematically impressive, though the linkage was ok.
Comic Highlight: Kenneth is giving Jack and Kaylee a tour of the studio and stops at a particular photo to say: "Now you may have heard of J Fred Muggs, the chimpanzee that was on the Today Show in the 1950s. But what most people don't know is that NBC is still a network!"
The Bottom Line: I didn't like it.
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