Outsourced is the new Friends
After last week’s stellar episode, this one felt a little uneven again – but I’m forgiving it as it seems it’s going to set up the whole season’s themes. As Jack stormed out at the end of the episode shouting, “I’ve got 3 months to change your mind,” I had to wonder what diversity stories 30 Rock would be taking on. And I also had to wonder to what extent 30 Rock functions as the key to whatever is going on at NBC – it’s so self-referential to its network (down even to its name), and it’s always quick both to big up and to mock its host. Is NBC going through a time of diversifying? Is it doing so in ways that the 30 Rock writers find abhorrent (I have yet to figure out what the heck is going on with Outsourced – I can’t yet tell if its kind of racist or so fresh I don’t have categories to process it)? Or are Jack’s impassioned speeches about immigrants, innovators and snowboarders taking improv lessons the heart of what 30 Rock has always been? A show that doesn’t tout its diversity, but rather which succeeds, and can do things other shows can’t do because of it. Either way, I’m hoping for a little more Queen Latifah!
Kenneth was great in this episode – coached by Jenna (who was broken and reinvented sexual by Micky Rooney – eeps!) to nothing resembling victory, that guy seems to own more creepy NBC themed clothing that anyone in existence. But what we really got out of this storyline was a little more backstory on Jenna. Krakowski slipped into a perfect impression of Verna and, for a moment, we could see the infant Ystrepa Grokovitz (yeah, I looked it up) soft-shoeing away for her mother’s approval. We knew Jenna’s mom had made her sing Christmas carols in Sears as a kid – but that was for the purpose of distracting people while Verna shoplifted. We’ve always thought Jenna’s performance bug grew out of that. But it seems she had some genuine competitive performing roles as a kid in her messed up background too – that maybe her mother pushed her into acting not just as a diversion, but for her talent as well.
So I’m concerned about this live episode next week – is that for real? Isn’t that the classic thing tv shows do when they don’t know what else to do? That being said, I have to wonder what Tracy Morgan will be like live?! I tend to believe the personality he performs in interviews is just that – a genius performance of a character who gets him more bookings. He’s like a sneakier version of Colbert in my view. But on the off chance he’s really the way he seems – then I imagine he’s got about as much of a shot of getting through a live episode as Tracy Jordan does on TGS. Plus the show tends to rely on such quick movement around the 30 Rock building – dressing rooms to sets to Jack’s office and hallways…the actors are going to be run ragged. I suppose I’m intrigued, but mostly feel it will be a shark jumping moment.
My closing question – what would you guys be in a post-apocalyptic world? Traveling bard? Radiation canary? Or something else? I’m going with leader of the zombie-resistance army. More likely: first one to catch whatever virus makes us all zombies in the first place.