The XX Factor

30 Rock’s Obsession with Lori Gottlieb

Per last night’s 30 Rock episode, we are supposed to believe that heroine Liz Lemon is still single because her standards are too high-just like the thesis of Lori Gottlieb’s book, Marry Him , which posits that many educated women pushing 40 are single because they are holding out for Mr. Perfect. Liz, for her part, is holding out for “Astronaut Mike Dexter,” whom she described in a previous episode as someone who is monogamous, nice to his mother, thinks strip clubs are gross, will shut up when she watches Lost , has forearms like a “damn Disney prince” and who genuinely likes her. These do not seem like a completely outlandish list of requests.

“For crying out loud,” says her colleague Jack’s mother, hilariously. “This is what feminism does, it makes smart girls with nice birthing shapes believe in fairy tales.” Later in the episode, we find out that Liz’s mom had a chance to marry real Astronaut Buzz Aldrin-but that that would have been a mistake, because Aldrin (who makes a cameo) turned out to be a world class alcoholic and philanderer with a screw loose.

Certainly the basic premise of this episode is sound: No one should expect perfection from a mate. But that Liz decides that she should “settle”-and she does use that term-is completely disheartening! Especially since in another previous episode she decides that settling for the annoying Brit she meets at the dentist’s office isn’t going to make her happy. Can’t the writers frame Liz’s romantic life in any other way? Why does the trope of settling/not settling keep coming up in this way? Is it all just a send-up of stereotypes about single women? So many questions. Last night’s episode embedded below.