By Alyssa Rosenberg
Earlier in the week, commenter martinhduke said in the discussion of why 30 Rock has gone downhill that part of the reason the show is in trouble is that:
Liz as straight man anchored the show in the early seasons. I think it also arises from Fey becoming a little more comfortable with acting as the years passed, so that she shifted from playing herself to a more outrageous character. Unfortunately, “Tina Fey” is a much more compelling character than late-season Liz Lemon.
I think that’s true. And I thought that last night’s episode of Parks and Recreation was a great illustration of how that show has become better than 30 Rock in part by being unafraid to treat Leslie Knope like she’s attractive. It turns out a drunk Amy Poehler commanding someone to “dance up on me” walks a very funny line between slight ridiculousness and total plausibility:
But more importantly, treating Leslie if she’s attractive yields more potential plot lines and more kinds of jokes than treating Liz Lemon as if she’s a freak of nature. If Liz is an utter disaster, every relationship story has to end the same way, with her doing something weird, or awkward, or distasteful. No matter how baroque the details are, and they have gotten baroque, the story’s always essentially the same. But because Leslie’s attractive, the writers can focus on the actual dynamics of her relationships and tell different kinds of stories. Tina Fey may have given in and embraced the idea that Liz Lemon crazy by her own definition, “a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.” But it’s a lot more fun to watch Poehler beat back the point at which Leslie will be declared crazy by solidly establishing that people still want to fuck her.