Monday, February 15, 2010

30 Rock - Verna, or Jenna's Origin Story

I'd never wondered where Jenna came from, but after this episode, I'm so glad I know. Verna, Jenna's mom, makes a surprise visit to the TGS studios, in what should be a joyous family reunion. Instead, Jenna dreads her arrival, since their past is plagued with continual disappointments and overdoses. For strategies on dealing with impossible mothers, Jenna goes to Jack, who clearly has some experience. He has a Power Point presentation (of course) to help Jenna deal with her mom, but, strangely, she doesn't end up needing it. Verna's turned over a new leaf, and wants to pay Jenna back for all the help through the years. The celebrations culminate in a surprise birthday party where Verna and Jenna perform a rousing duet of "Do That To Me One More Time".

Meanwhile, Frank's apartment has burned down under mysterious, Star Wars related circumstances, so Liz lets him move into her extraneous apartment. She is shocked and appalled to find that Frank is a smoker! She lectures him, but he lectures her right back on her copious consumption of junk food. So, they decide to make a pact that they'll both quit their vices. Frank succeeds wonderfully, much to Liz's chagrin, as she's dealing with classic withdrawal symptoms. Liz can't believe that he can quit junk food so easily, so she crafts a plan to find him in the act of sneaking cigarettes.

Back in Verna land, it turns out her motives aren't quite as pure as Jenna had hoped, just as Jack always suspected. She's really trying to pitch a reality TV show to Jack about Verna and Jenna, complete with screaming, fighting, and drama. Jack says no, but has a counter-offer. He'll pay her to be a good mom to Jenna, visiting her 4 times a year, and not asking her for money. She agrees, and Jenna is none the wiser. But, now she has a supportive mom, so hooray!

Back at Liz's apartment, it turns out that Frank isn't sneaking cigarettes, but what he's doing is almost as bad. Using a nanny-cam one night, Liz catches Frank consorting with a heavy-set prostitute, but that's not all the camera catches! Turns out that Liz has been sleep eating, downing cheesy puffs, pizza, and even eating cigarettes, all without knowing. The lesson here is: everyone needs stress relief, and to take that away is a dangerous thing. Lesson learned.

Overall, a meh episode. I'm not crazy about Jenna, although the origin story really makes sense (a white trash Floridian with a crazy mom). It was also nice to see Jack do something purely out of the goodness of his heart.

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