'Sex Makes the People Go Away': 30 Rock Recapped
30 Rock's "Reaganing" episode last night was puzzling. Or...un-puzzlingly flat, I mean. Tracy's groan-inducing Boys and Girls Club commercial outtakes? Jack's gimmicky, save-the-day flair? The last-act Kelsey Grammer cameo? One flat non sequitur after another. But the episode's strangest moment was its glimpse into Liz Lemon's history of sexual frustrations, a nostalgia trip that culminated in a freakish flashback. Did Liz's traumatizing tryst with a Tom Jones poster work?
The story went like this: Liz Lemon's having intimacy issues with Carol, and Jack thinks he can cure her by evaluating her past, pinpointing an insecurity, and freeing Liz from the squeamishness that makes her afraid of words like "lovers." Liz reveals that she's been ashamed of sex ever since she was nine, when -- after roller skating to the bathroom and trying to take off her underwear while waiting to go in -- she tripped, tore a Tom Jones poster from the wall as she fell, and landed on the ground with the Tom's image pressed against her flailing body. Needless to say, her mother figured she was trying to fornicate with the poster, and discretely removed all posters from her room -- including a darling snapshot of Han Solo. And Kermit.
Cue the aloof blogger dismissiveness: It all felt a little fanfic-y to me. It's not so much the roller skates or even the implausible fall; it's the presence of Tom Jones. The legendary "Sex Bomb" is too obvious for 30 Rock to reference, even if the show planted these seeds in the very first scene of season premiere, when Liz awoke saying, "No, Tom Jones, no." Where was Liz's Sebastian Cabot poster? Or Rod Serling? Or Dick Sargent? Or something else slightly anachronistic, quizzical, and creepy? Tom Jones jokes are a yardstick off from Hasselhoff jokes, and we all know Hoff jokes should be left to Jay Leno Show diehards. Happy trails, you guys.
Then again, a Liz Lemon sexual revolution the size of Tracy Jordan's personal Spider-Man statue would feel insufficient when compared to last week's marvelous live episodes. What'd you think? Were you sold on the mortifying sexual repression that "What's New, Pussycat?" can incur?