When NBC first released Liz Lemon’s wedding announcement two weeks before the 30 Rock wedding episode was set to air, with no plans having been set on the show, I was disappointed. I wouldn’t call it a spoiler, because I didn’t feel like the episode had been ruined for me, but I thought it made the nuptials kind of anticlimactic.
Then I watched last night’s episode, and I realized that downplaying Liz’s wedding was exactly the right way to go, as a representation of her character, as a reflection of the tone of the show, and as an example for TV heroines everywhere.
Part of Liz’s storyline has been her misfortune in romance and her unsuccessful attempts to have a child. But that’s the thing — they’re only part of her story. Sure, there have been references to the concept of “having it all,” and it was kind of expected that Liz would “settle down” by the end of the series.
But by putting Liz’s wedding in the middle of the season, making a funny offscreen announcement and portraying it the way they did onscreen (more on that in a minute), 30 Rock not only stayed on point with Liz’s character; it also showed that a woman “having it all,” or getting close to it, doesn’t have to be some miraculous occasion that should be anticipated for months and, if it’s on a TV show, be the climax of the series.
Liz Lemon’s wedding to Criss Chros (James Marsden) happens as a result of a spur-of-the-moment decision the couple makes after running into Liz’s ex-boyfriend Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters). They discover that Dennis and his wife have adopted a child named Black Dennis. Yep. Liz complains about the fact that an idiot like Dennis can adopt a child because he’s married, but she’s had to struggle with it as a single woman. The couple decides they might as well just get hitched, since they already act like a married couple. (She ignores it when he bites into popsicles with his teeth = LOVE.)
This is already so on-point with Liz’s character. Liz has certainly considered marriage before. She once bought a wedding dress, but she reveals (in so many words) that she used it as toilet paper during Hurricane Irene. Is there any better way for her to “poo poo” marriage? I think not.
Liz also fantasized about her wedding as a child, through her marriage to Saul Rosenbear, her stuffed animal. However, even little Liz realized that she shouldn’t view marriage as a fairy tale. Her first eye roll occurred at her aunt’s wedding.
Liz wants to go to city hall in a sweatshirt and no bra and register at Popcorn Palace (which sounds perfect to me), but her plan is altered slightly after witnessing the other couples waiting to get married. She starts to want her nuptials to be more special, so she rushes home to find something that will make her feel like a princess. But this is Liz, so it’s not what you’d expect. That trusty Princess Leia costume which she used to get out of jury duty makes one more appearance as her wedding dress. She’s a princess! But she doesn’t want to be a “Wedding Bitch,” like the title women on Bravo’s fictional reality series.
Not only is a makeshift wedding in a Princess Leia costume perfect for Liz; it’s also a nice departure from other TV weddings. On an ensemble show like The Office, where Pam and Jim were such a beloved couple whom viewers waited seasons to see end up together, a big, highly anticipated wedding was appropriate. But on 30 Rock, downplaying Liz’s wedding was the right way to go, because it doesn’t define her character or the show.
I also appreciated that the episode featured unrelated storylines, like Jenna questioning her worth and Tracy being responsible, as a result of learning he might live longer than he expected. This makes it just like any other episode, and cements the idea that Liz’s wedding isn’t as momentous a moment as it might be on another show. It’s nice, but it’s not the moment we’ll all remember most from the series. For me, that will always be the image of Liz dancing for a flu shot.
(GIFs: Mr. Golightly)