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30 Rock Watch: Subway Series

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NBC

Spoilers for last night’s 30 Rock coming up after the jump:

 

So far season 4 of 30 Rock has been fixed on the issue of real vs. fake America, which in meta terms of the show’s own concerns, means: are the same things entertaining in Middle America as on the coasts?

The plot of “Audition Day” wasn’t explicitly concerned with this, but in a way the episode was itself a test of this. Because while I thought it was an amusing episode overall, some of the funniest parts—to me, anyway—were so New York-centric that I don’t know if they could have been as funny to someone who hasn’t spent time here.

Specifically, I mean the subplot of Jack and his bedbugs. (They are, in fact, a big problem in New York City, though I know the city didn’t invent the critters. So are street robots.) When Jack’s leper status drives him to roam the subways seeking human connection, I’m sure it made fans laugh outside NYC. But if you’ve done a lot of subway riding, you know what exactly the writers accomplished here: Jack’s spiel is a note-perfect, almost word-for-word re-creation of a standard subway-panhandler’s patter: ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to bother you, I need to get my medication, if you could find it in your hearts to, etc. Likewise, there are in fact roving a capella group who have made “This Little Light of Mine” the unofficial national anthem of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. I’m sure the scene was a kick regardless, but having seen the reference adds another layer to the joke, which is probably one of many reasons we Fake Americans here see 30 Rock as the home team.

Beyond that, the Jenna and Tracy subplot had them hitting the same notes they have so far with the new-cast-member arc, though I loved Jenna’s “You don’t think I’ve been brought in on a million auditions just to make Kim Cattrall seem grounded and human?” Mainly, though, I was glad this episode gave the underused Pete something to do. Floodgate wheels are horizontal!

But you tell me. Did it play in Peoria?

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