Idiots Are People Two!

30 Rock - Season 6, Episode 2

I'm emphatically not going to post about every episode of every TV show I regularly watch. That would leave about three hours a week to eat, sleep, and work. But I would like to check in once in a while as a snapshot of the show as a whole: An episode that's particularly good or particularly bad or particularly important.

Last night's episode of 30 Rock falls into that last category, because it attempts to address the whole debacle of Tracy Morgan's homophobic ranting. I say "attempts" because I came away pretty dissatisfied, though that's not entirely the show's fault.

Let's dispense with the B and C plots first. In the B plot, Liz has a new man in her life, but doesn't want to share the news with Jack, because she's rightly worried that he won't approve. The man in question is played by James Marsden, deploying the usual dopey charm he always pulls off so well. We're still at the beginning of this storyline, so I'll give it some time, but there's no real reason for Liz to approve of him, either. Marsden's character (Criss Chros - snerk) is essentially Dennis Duffy, except he's better looking and treats her more respectfully. The C plot is the strongest of the evening, because it plays on the always hilarious interactions between Jenna and Kenneth. Jenna wants to get a special light bulb from a locked supply closet, and Kenneth assists. Hijinks ensue. That's basically it, plot-wise, but it does supply Jenna with some quality one-liners, such as when a box of bulbs shatters on the floor:

"I’m just going to tell you what I told Phil Spector: It’s okay, baby. We just have to get some trash bags and get back here before anyone’s the wiser. Then we can keep recording my album."

Which brings us to the main story of the episode. Tracy (Jordan) has made disparaging remarks about gay people, who quickly organize and lead a protest against the network. Obviously, 30 Rock is a comedy, and if they're going to mirror the real life situation at all, they're going to do it by poking fun at it. Unfortunately, they weren't able to do it successfully. Tracy Jordan's remarks are lot less despicable than Tracy Morgan's were, and Tina Fey's solution to this problem is for Liz Lemon to apologize on Tracy Jordan's behalf, asking people to forgive him because he's an idiot that doesn't think things through.

Tracy Jordan hears of this, and is angry, because as an idiot, he now understands what it's like to be vilified and marginalized, so he organizes a new protest made up of self-proclaimed idiots, led by Denise Richards. In other words, all is forgiven by those fickle gays, and we can move on to the next outraged group. Truly, the thrust of this episode is that people are offended so easily that it's ridiculous, and any group can make their voices heard, even if their point is that their stupidity deserves validation. Great message, Fey.

The episode ends with a "To Be Continued..." so perhaps it's not fair to judge yet. Nobody told 30 Rock that they had to bring the subject up at all, though, and now that they have, it should be noted that they should have done a much better job with it. The Girlie Show has always had a Tracy Jordan problem, and now, 30 Rock has a Tracy Morgan one. If this episode is going to be the sole response to a cast member's overt homophobia, it's a piss poor one, and makes me rethink sticking with this show at all.

"Idiots Are People Two!": C


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