30 Rock season 6 concludes its two-parter with its third episode “Idiots Are People Three!,” as Jack continues laying judgement on Liz’s new boyfriend (Jason Marsden) while Liz deals with Tracy’s idiot movement. “Idiots Are People Three” satisfactorily wraps up this unevenly split story, but still feels somewhat hollow by the end.
Perhaps I’m not up on my 30 Rock the way I used to be, but the series doesn’t often drift into two-parters in the manner that ‘Idiots Are People Three’manages to conclude here tonight. It would seem even stranger of the series to air two episodes in one night, the first of which as the closer to a narrative two-part run, with the second as a stand-alone. Not to mention, I can’t find anything all that tangible that would have required ‘Idiots Are People’to be written as two episodes, but writers’rooms and NBC scheduling can be funny like that, particularly with the manner 30 Rock‘s sixth season wound up shoehorned into the mid-season lineup anyway.
In any case, ‘Idiots Are People Three!’largely picks up the story of Jack bestowing his judgement on Liz Lemon’s new boyfriend Criss (James Marsden), for all his unrealized success and entrepreneurial dreams, while questioning the influence Jack and Liz have over one another. On any other sitcom, this would likely blossom into a Jack and Liz love story in and of itself, but 30 Rock has always stayed strictly platonic with the two for the exact reason of subverting that kind of expectation. That said, the idea of Jack’s presence and opinion resonating so largely within Liz’s mind can’t help but suggest that the relationship between the two has grown beyond friendship, or even ‘subordifriends,’leaving us to wonder how the two might move forward in their lives. Even with 30 Rock‘s future somewhat cloudy beyond another season, I don’t imagine much foresight goes into their current relationship.
Although nice to have him back, muddling that point is the return of Will Arnett’s Devon Banks, which largely serves to separate Jack from the Liz storyline. Devon and Jack have always had wonderful chemistry, though the point feels somewhat muted by the cap put on their rivalry from last season’s Plan B,’and of course Banks’regular commitment to NBC’s Up All Night. That said, Jack accepting his daughter Liddy in a less-than-prestigious school also feels tonally similar to ground already covered by her Canadian-American birth in ‘Double-Edged Sword,’but the main thrust of the narrative lies in getting Jack to see that both excellence and stupidity can come from anywhere, and in turn bestow his acceptance on Criss. Liz’s relationships never last anyway, so I expect there’s a meta-bit of truth in Jack’s ‘you have three months.’
More fun to watch is Liz’s side of the story, which still has to clean-up after her comments apologizing for Tracy Jordan’s homophobic rant created ‘Idiots Are People Too’,’or more aptly the National Association for Zero Intolerance (N.A.Z.I.). Mostly the storyline just serves as a writer playground to call out more despised aspects of pop culture (an Entourage movie, or even lacking universal healthcare) with impunity, which makes for more than a few quick laughs. Even then, it dovetails back with the main thread that her interest in Criss doesn’t have to be entirely rational, something Liz reaches a little more organically than on Jack’s side of things.
I should probably also mention that somewhere in there Kelsey Grammer puts on a spontaneous one-man show of Abraham Lincoln as a distraction to Jenna and Kenneth knocking out Pete last week, but when the episode disregards the story’s significance this often and even Kenneth jokes that ‘none of this was necessary,’I’m inclined to put in the same amount of effort in writing about it.
And Another Thing…
- Probably more laughs around the writers’room, but I enjoyed all the college name-dropping like Wesleyan, Northwestern and SUNY Oneonta. Especially since I went to one of those schools that no one’s ever heard of and that I…don’t feel inclined to mention right now…
- ‘I played a nucular psychiatrist in a James Bonk movie.’
- I couldn’t’help but feel just a wee bit of preaching in condescension in the way 30 Rock addressed all the ‘idiots’out there…
- Subtle, but I like that Liz’s apology to idiots everywhere was covered by Yahoo, Fox News, Today, Spike and Cinemax.
What did YOU think?