I didn’t think it was possible, but last night I fell in love with Tina Fey just a little bit more.
Fey unabashedly and unapologetically took on the sexism and ageism that permeates Hollywood and society in the hilarious “Stride of Pride” episode of 30 Rock.
Liz is outraged to discover that Tracy has tweeted that women aren’t funny. Much like Fey has resisted addressing this ridiculous assertion on 30 Rock, Liz refuses to engage in this debate with Tracy. She rightly believes she doesn’t have to prove to him that women are funny. Until, that is, he brings a monkey into the studio and declares that monkeys are funny but women aren’t. (The monkey on the now-canceled Animal Practice must be hopeful that he still will be able to find work).
Since the inception of her career, Fey has dealt with this age-old and absurd declaration that women aren’t funny. Obviously, she has succeeded because she is exceedingly witty, funny and smart. But still, articles are written and men ponder “can women be funny?” It is, of course, sexist. Has anyone ever written an article wondering if men can be funny? Besides, we all know binders full of funny women.
To prove to Tracy that women can be funny, Liz and Jenna revive their two-woman 1996 comedy sketch about a doctor treating a young girl. Once again, the storyline is inspired by Fey’s real life. In the ‘90s, Fey and Rachel Dratch had a two-woman show, “Dratch & Fey,” at Chicago’s Second City. (And, interesting fact, Dratch was the original Jenna in the unaired 30 Rock pilot). Tracy laughs through the entire sketch, but only because he finds it hilarious that a woman could be a doctor.
Inspired by the movie The Great Escape, Jack is dating four women, each who serves a different purpose in his life—one for social events, one for sex, one for political discussion, and one who knows how to work his DVR. Jack is shocked to discover that one his girlfriends, Zarina, also has a sex idiot in the form of Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte (who displayed better acting ability than most athletes.) Zarina is Pokemoning to Jack’s Great Escape.
When Jack gathers all of Zarina’s paramours, he realizes that he’s filling the role of father figure in her life. In the night’s best inside joke, one of Zarina’s boyfriends is named Ken Tremendous, a shout-out to Parks and Recreation and The Office executive producer Michael Schur, whose Twitter handle and pen name is Ken Tremendous.
While Jack battles his age, Jenna embraces hers. She is trying to “escape the curse of the middle age actress” where she will have to compete with Julie Bowen to play Kevin James’ mean wife who he’s sick of having sex with. Jenna wants to skip right ahead to when she’s old and sexy like Helen Mirren. She’s vying for an endorsement for a stair climber and doesn’t want to lose out to Jamie Lee Curtis. Underneath all the jokes was a scathing commentary on how Hollywood treats actresses in their 40s. I loved it.
The episode ended with Liz doing her best Carrie Bradshaw, complete with curly hair and a tutu, typing a nonsensical voice-over wrap up on her computer. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “Can 30 Rock get any better than this?”
The episode was full of bon mots. Here are some of my favorites:
“I’m not sure they serve brunch after the ‘90s”-Cerie when Liz announces she wants to go to brunch.
“Lemon, I’ve seen your bathing suit. That could be anywhere.”-Jack when Liz tells him she has had an awakening in her bathing suit area.
“There are no bad ideas Lemon. Only great ideas that go horribly wrong.”-Jack.
“I’m going to do to them what I did to my own ribs: Take them out.”-Jenna
“I don’t care if it takes all day. I want you to teach me how to copy all of these email addresses and paste them into a new email.”-Jack to Cerie.