As if it wasn’t enough that Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the noble public servant who is the star of Parks and Recreation, finally got engaged to her knight in geeky armor Ben (Adam Scott) earlier this season, now 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon is set to walk down the aisle on Nov. 29. I can hear a certain demo of fans groaning at this rather traditional outcome, but they’re wrong.
For a long time, it seemed like frazzled comedy showrunner Liz Lemon might be constitutionally unsuited for marriage. In the first season, after Jack Donaghy set her up with Gretchen Thomas, an engineer, on the mistaken assumption that Liz was a lesbian, Liz tried to strike up a bargain with the other woman. “If, say, in 25 years, neither of us has found somebody, we’ll move in together and become roommates,” she proposed. “And even though I am … not into the sex stuff, if it helps you, I would let you … do stuff to me.” The second season found her crying while eating ham from a corner store buffet in a wedding dress she bought in a fit of quickly-disappointed optimism. In the fourth season, Liz cheered up a depressed Tracy Jordan by telling him: “I’m actually jealous of you. You’ve got stability, a great marriage, devoted kids. You know what I have? A Sims family that keeps getting murdered.” It seemed like the closest Liz might get to wedded bliss was the moment she accidentally married Jack.
But as her relationship with Criss Chross (James Marsden) has grown, and the two have started trying to get pregnant, it’s been increasingly obvious that Liz has found her match. And 30 Rock has slyly made the point that what we mistake for a woman compromising her standards in a relationship is often simply a maturing woman’s self-awareness. Like Liz’s first on-show boyfriend Dennis (Dean Winters), Criss is a bit of a slacker with a penchant for improbable business ideas. But he lacks Dennis’s nasty edge, and his food truck is more plausible than Dennis’ reign as the Beeper King. Like Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm), Criss is handsome, but he has mercifully avoided Drew’s crippling stupidity. Where pilot Carol (Matt Damon) was Liz’s mirror image, Criss is decidedly chiller than our favorite neurotic, the kind of man who knows that a fight at an Ikea is just a fight, and not an apocalyptic breakup.
Criss may not be Jack Donaghy or some other fantasy alpha male. But he’s what Liz has been looking for all along. The woman we met in the 30 Rock pilot buying out an entire hot dog cart to thwart a line-jumper has found her own personal hot dog vendor.
Correction, Dec. 13, 2012: This post originally stated that Liz told Jack that she was jealous of his great family and devoted kids. Liz actually said this to Tracy Jordan.