There was an important moment in television last night. Obviously, I’m not talking about the Vice Presidential Debate. Take a moment. Think about it. It’ll come to you.
Yes, of course, I’m referring to the latest episode of “30 Rock.” (Still my favorite comedy. Yes, I know I’m alone on that.) And yes, I’m saying it was a momentous piece of television because it included what I believe to be the first throwaway punchline about Jewish intermarriage ever uttered on network primetime. There’s probably not much to unpack here, but let’s pretend there is and unpack it anyway.
Before we get to that, I hope you enjoy this paragraph, which is 100% irrelevant to the real point of this post. I’ve chosen to include it because I’m told that references to the election are, like, really good for SEO. So here we go: One of the episode’s main plot elements was about Paul Ryan dropping out of the race, only to be replaced by a bumbling fictional governor who is identical to Tracy Jordan, one of the star’s of the “30 Rock” show within a show. The post-credits gag is just him saying bizarre things during the Vice Presidential Debate. Which — meta! — was airing at the same time as this episode of the “30 Rock.”
Back to my main point: In the scene embedded above, Jenna Maroney, one of the fictional stars of the show within a show on “30 Rock,” discovers that unhappy middle-aged bumpkins are the only people left who actually buy music anymore. So she invites one to her dressing room to play a song he wrote — not so she can steal his song, she assures him, before saying that if he lawyers up, “I’ll have my Jews on you so fast you’ll think you’re an Asian girl.”
Is this a joke about how Jews and Asians are today’s quintessential nerd minorities? Or is the idea that all Jews are one of the archetypal nerd minorities totally passé, as proved by our portrayal as potheads eight years ago in “Harold and Kumar,” which also cast the nerdy main characters as an Asian and an Indian?
Or — and this is my preferred option — is this the first ever joke on network television about how Jews love to do the respectable thing and get married… just not to Jews. And we marry lots of Asians now. Or something.
Insert an insight about how I knew a bunch of Asians at Jewish summer camp because we love to adopt Asians too.
Also, this episode featured a brief joke involving Tracy Morgan playing his “30 Rock” alter ego Tracy Jordan, dressed up at Hitler arriving at a restaurant and announcing that he has a reservation for Black Hitler. God, I love this show.
This post has probably gone on more than long enough already. But since — against my better judgement — I’m still writing it, here’s a link to the Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization I like a lot that works on making Jewish communities more welcoming to intermarried families.
And, just in case you care, here’s the VP debate. (Because it’s good for SEO. Or whatever.)