Ryan Lochte! Sex idiots! Squirtle! Kenneth's hairless shins! Last night's episode was a potpourri of "Sex and the City" homages, dating archetypes and occasionally fourth-wall breaking madness. It started off a little meh, but picked up a lot of speed on the way, and Liz Lemon was absolutely flawless throughout.
"Stride of Pride" opened with Jack's version of a walk of shame (stride of pride!): Two hairs out of place, wearing the same flashy "night tie" from last night, rolling up in a town car, you know how it goes. Rather than breaking out her judgmental badger face (FYI, it has its own Facebook page), Liz was unusually laid back thanks to her own newly discovered, sex positive lifestyle (they did it in the shower and her shoes got ruined!).
Jack has been actively dating several women at once, including his "black tie girlfriend" Pizzarina Sbarro, Sbarro heiress. While out with Mindy, his sex idiot ("Shiny!"), Jack ran into Pizzarina and met her sex idiot, Ryan Lochte, who, mercifully, didn't talk much. Jack realized she was also dating multiple guys, and invited all of them to talk so he could evaluate who was who in the situation. After establishing each boyfriend's archetype -- guy who makes parents angry, sex idiot, the money guy, the perfect head of hair -- Jack was dismayed to realize he was the aging father-figure boyfriend. Jenna pointed out how many benefits there are to being old, though -- people bring you soup! "I do like soup," Jack said.
Which brings us to Jenna's storyline: An article proclaiming Jenna to be 56 years old led Liz to declare Code Orange in the writers' room. It turned out that Jenna actually planted the story herself in an attempt to beat the curse of the middle-aged actress since it was more rewarding to pretend she's much older so everyone admires how good she looks for her age. Which actually makes sense, in a very weird and Jenna-ish kind of way. She was also on the hook for some endorsement deals that required her to be older. As far as Jenna's crazy goes, this is one of her tamer episodes, though she did threaten to take Liz and/or Liz's ribs out.
The best storyline of the episode revolved around Tracy tweeting about how women aren't funny ("Never have been. Never will be. #plotpoint"). Liz tried to resist at first ("I'm not going to waste my time engaging you on this topic," she said to Tracy), but Tracy's continued obnoxiousness sends her over the edge ("ENGAGING!!"). To prove women are funny once and for all, she convinced Jenna to perform their past two-woman show. Instead of an actual performance, though, we got a series of decontextualized scenes of the sketch and the laughing audience while a jazzy song proclaiming "We don't need to prove it to you! No, we don't need to prove it to you!" played over the dialogue.
Some might call this approach a bit of a cop out, but I think I cackled gleefully for five minutes straight. Figuring out how to wrap up that touchy storyline without ever giving any true credence to the idea, flirting with the fourth wall and still being funny about it couldn't have been easy, and they handled it perfectly. You get the sense that this is what Tina Fey has always wanted to say to all those jags out there who really don't think women can be funny -- shame that said jags probably aren't watching this show. Still. 60 Criss points for funny womankind.
Liz Lemon as Carrie Bradshaw nearly killed me (in a good way). The hot pink tulle skirt, camera angles, combining two of my favorite TV characters ... brilliant. Poor Liz Bradshaw, I'll have "Sex and the City"-style brunch with you anytime.
To borrow the lingo of Seth MacFarlane's SNL impression of Lochte (... juice), I give his cameo three swims. "No, I'm pretty sure we're in love" made me giggle. He was funny because the character was funny, but besides being Ryan Lochte, not particularly memorable. However, 15 swims for being a good sport and willing to laugh at himself.
Favorite moments: A morose Jack asking Jenna, "Do you also flash the Time Warner Center to make the Empire State Building feel like an old fool?", that Lochte's email address is "Ryan Lochte, misspelled, at swimteam.org," Jack as an aging Squirtle and "Are you thinking or doing kegels?"
10 more episodes!
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