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30 Rock Recap: Liz Got Married, Dummies!

30 ROCK -- "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" Episode 707 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, James Marsden as Criss

It finally happened, 30 Rock fans: Our Liz Lemon got married. And I hope you will not judge me if I tell you that I cried. Not during the ceremony — that was appropriately ridiculous, thank God — but while Liz tried to fight until the very last second to keep from adopting to societal norms in order to maintain her comfortable misery. She failed, of course, but I heard so much of my own brain coming out of her mouth that, for just a second, I thought she might sabotage this.
 
She didn’t. She said, "I do." Just in time.

The proposal was appropriately unromantic: After another failed pregnancy test, Criss and Liz were sitting in a diner eating disco fries and mourning the nonexistence of Frisbee, the he/her/it that someday they hope to have together. Really, according to Criss, this scenario was supposed to be a win-win: They didn’t have to fight over naming the baby Frisbee, plus, you know, disco fries. And then Dennis Duffy showed up. Dennis, Liz’s ex-boyfriend. Dennis, the former beeper salesman turned suicide insurance peddler. Dennis, father of an adorable adopted baby with his wife, Megan “No Relation” Duffy. As he and his modern family blew out of the diner naming sitcoms that will still be on the air in the spring of 2013, you could tell things were about to change.
 
Back at the office, Liz was furious that Dennis could adopt a baby and she couldn’t, just because he was married. “The point is, anyone can get married,” she told Criss. “What, all of a sudden you’re a better parent because you signed a piece of paper?” This was absurd, Criss agreed. “We’re as committed to each other as any married couple,” he said. “We might as well be married,” said Liz. “So let’s do it,” said Criss.
 
Blammo. Engaged, Top Gun–style. They registered at Popcorn Palace.
 
But here’s the rub: Liz didn’t want a wedding. She didn’t want to be a princess on a “special day.” Even though she was glowing like a New England cod fisherman — and even though Jack gave her the best hug she’d ever had — she stuck to her guns. “I realized a long time ago that weddings aren’t about love,” she explained to Jack, who really was glowing. “They’re just a giant industry that preys on gender stereotypes to make adult women spend a ton of money and act like selfish children.” And although Jack kept pushing — suggesting she wear a wedding dress, offering to have Tony Bennett sing, even inspiring Liz to remember her wedding fantasy as a little girl, in which she and Saul Rosenbear got hitched on the Love Boat only to have it fall apart before they reached Puerto Vallarta — Liz was unmoved. “I reject the wedding industry’s phallo-centric fairy-tale grotesquery,” she said. “So tomorrow, I’m getting married in a sweatshirt, no bra.”
 
GOD I LOVE HER, I wrote in all caps.
 
Cut to City Hall, where Liz was hoping to find a bunch more people dressed like it was laundry day who didn’t care about the ritual of marriage, but no dice. All around her was True Love, even True Love between Mets fans, whose typical season, as we all know, can be a very trying experience for any couple. She tried an epic eye roll to show her disdain (was that Tina Fey's daughter in the eye roll flashback? Sure looks like it!), but you could feel her spirits start to flag even before Criss admitted he forgot his birth certificate and invited Dennis and Megan to be their witnesses. And once he changed into the ridiculous baggy mime turtleneck he was wearing the day that they met, Liz went from disheartened to mad — though she adamantly refused to admit that this could be because her important day was being ruined. This was not an important day, she insisted, at least not as important as that day when she got a sleeve of Starburst with all pink. “So you’re yelling at me because ... ?” prompted Criss. And here’s where your recapper started weeping:
 
“Because I’m Liz Lemon! My parents spent the money they saved up for my wedding on a PT Cruiser! I have been sure for a long time that this was never gonna happen, and I was fine with it! Ergo, it couldn’t matter!”
 
Here’s where your recapper had to pause to get tissues:
 
“A tiny little part of me that I hate wants to be a princess.”
 
Oh, my heart.
 
“Liz, it’s okay to be a human woman!” Criss said to her (and me and lots of us). “No, it’s not! It’s the worst, because of society!” Liz said, burying her face in her hands, but her feminism engine had clearly ground to a halt on the side of True Love Road. Criss had been playing her all along, and when he brought out the photo album she’d saved of her wedding to Saul Rosenbear, she gave in. “I want today to be special,” she admitted. “It’s my special day!”
 
Special it was indeed, although perhaps in more of a short-bus way than most of us would opt for. There may have been deodorant and everything, but there were also flowers Dennis stole from a hospital, and a reading from The Fountainhead; the rings came from a police auction — a giant drug dealer fist plaque for Liz and a golden grill for Criss — and Liz’s version of a “princess” was Leia. But Jack was in a tux, the real Tony Bennett sang, and in its own 30 Rock way, it was beautiful. I couldn’t imagine anything better, and I think probably neither could you.
 
ODDS AND ENDS
 

  • Again, I’m sort of ignoring tonight’s subplots, in which Jenna and Tracy both explored their own versions of mortality. It’s not because they weren’t fun — if my old pal John Hodgman hadn’t found his way onto this show before it shut down, I would have considered it an injustice — it’s just because there was something more important to talk about in this recap, mostly involving me crying. Anyway, you’re welcome to discuss the Tracy/Jenna stories amongst yourselves in the comments, especially that wonderfully sad montage of Tracy in a suit trying to be a responsible grown-up who doesn’t use his white nerd voice.
  • “I’m gonna have to start living like there’s a tomorrow. Open an IRA. Brush my teeth. Drink eight glasses a day of that stuff ... you know, clear bathtub juice ... ” — Tracy
  • An Abbreviated List of Things That Have Caused Jenna to Depreciate in Value: Internal organs will get you nothing on the black market. Emotional train wreck. Seventh-grade education. Hepatitis D. Bullet in jaw. Fatwa.
  • “My boyfriend was supposed to pick me up after that shoot. So I called him, and I was like, ‘OJ, where are you?’ And he was like, ‘Wait, you’re alive? Then who did I kill?’” — Jenna
  • “Hitler, Colon, the Boy Who Dreamed of Stars” — Kenneth
  • “I remember when Bravo used to air operas.” — Jack, wistfully
  • “Ergo! Affleck’s finally gonna get that Oscar!” – Dennis
  • Criss finally got a gold star!

I’d like to end tonight’s recap with a round of applause for Tina Fey’s acting in the City Hall scene. Boss lady nailed it: funny, honest, human, heartbreaking. No clue where the last six episodes will take us, but at least we know Liz has a shot at a happily ever after. So, from a grateful 30 Rock nation, thank you, Tina Fey. There’s hope for us all.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/NBC