Thursday Comedy Roundup: 30 Rock 7.05

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30 Rock, Season 7, Episode 5, “There’s No I in America”
Written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan
Directed by John Riggi
Airs Thursdays at 8pm ET on NBC

“There’s No I in America” doesn’t possess the strong structure that made “Unwindulax” such a special episode, but it does nothing to interrupt the comedy juggernaut that has been 30 Rock’s seventh season. Something of an olio, it concerns several disparate plotlines revolving around the upcoming presidential election: Kenneth struggles with voting for the first time, Pete tries to recapture the magic that was the Obama victory of 2008, and Jack and Liz stage a debate in order to sway Jenna and by extension her supporters.

These all feature marquee moments: Tracy letting Kenneth know that being an “informed” citizen has never been at the forefront of a country named after the “fourth or fifth guy who discovered it” that still refers to Native Americans as “Indians” simply because Columbus thought he was in the East Indies, Pete—in what is the episode’s weakest plotline even if it makes sense from an idea standpoint—encountering his inverse in Pete Horn, and Jack repurposing Lloyd Benton’s famous “You’re no Jack Kennedy” retort after Liz’s mention of Scottie Pippen.

One of the things that has made the election stuff work so well is that it portrays supporters of both parties as buffoons. Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey certainly have their own well-known political viewpoints, but having Liz struggle to list Obama’s achievements as president adds a bit of balance and keeps the episode from appearing as simple conservative baiting. Besides, being able to admit your own faults is a key aspect of being taken seriously.

So if “There’s No I in America” isn’t highlight-reel 30 Rock like “Stride of Pride” and “Unwindulax” were, it is nonetheless an entertaining and amusing episode of a show that is proving its sell-by date hasn’t passed, even with its expiration looming a scant seven episodes away.

Justin Wier

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