Pete Douglas looks at two of the great capitalists of our times, Donald Trump and 30 Rock‘s Jack Donaghy, and wonders if they really would get along like a house on fire IRL.
One of the best plot devices on my all-time favourite show 30 Rock is the conflict (and eventual friendship) between Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). John Francis Donaghy is introduced to us as the “Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming” for General Electric. He worked his way up from humble Irish-Catholic beginnings, eventually finding success at GE and gaining control of the NBC television network – including The Girly Show made by Elizabeth Miervaldis Lemon.
Early on Jack sums Lemon up as thus: a “New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single-and-pretending-to-be-happy-about-it, over-scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover and every two years you take up knitting… for a week.” Liz proceeds to spend the better part of seven seasons effectively proving Jack right.
Revisiting the series recently, and chuckling away/shaking my head at the oft-terrible things Jack says, a thought occurred to me. How would Jack get on with current Republican firebrand Donald J. Trump? Surely these successful businessmen and committed conservatives would be the best of buds, right!?
Trump’s entire primary and presidential campaign feels like the type of unbelievable yet oh-so-close-to-the-truth parody you might find on 30 Rock (never forget when Tracy single-handedly crashed the World financial markets by appearing on Larry King Live… ). Let’s take a look at how these two might get along.
There’s a lot of solid common ground here. Both devoted conservative Republicans, Trump and Jack love Ronald Reagan in a deep and reverent kind of way. So enamoured with Reagan is Jack that his term for completing the perfect day is the verb he invented himself – “Reaganing”.
Trump, being far less clever, instead settles for simply outright stealing Reagan’s campaign slogan from the 1980 general election, and putting it on lots of badly contoured red caps.
An interesting further correlation comes in how both men shamelessly flip flop their political views in their lives. Trump’s history is littered with various statements, and opposing counter-statements about just about any topic you care to choose. Jack, on the other hand, started his working life as an intern with a liberal worldview working for a democratic senator, before turning to the dark side of the force.
Attitude to Women
“I like a woman with ambition. It’s like a dog wearing clothes” utters Jack during his brief relationship with liberal Congresswoman Celeste Cunningham (Edie Falco) in season two of 30 Rock. Other sexist Jack-isms fired in Liz’s direction over the series include “50 is the new 40 for men, 50 is still 60 for women,” and “fire her, and don’t ever make me talk to a woman that old again”.
It’s horrible misogynistic stuff to be sure, but Jack is relatively benevolent and enlightened compared to Donald Trump. This is a man who has exclaimed, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” with regards to sexual assaults in the military, claimed that “it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass” by your side, and insulted a range of prominent women on the basis of their looks.
And don’t forget Meghan Kelly, who just can’t help bleeding all over the place because she’s a lady trying to do a journalist’s job.
Tolerance for Diversity
When Liz first meets Jack she hugs him, to Jack’s great surprise. “Hugging! How ethnic.” Other than that, Jack seems relatively colour blind – especially where he can make some money. See: the whole arc of adding Tracey to TGS and Jack’s often hinted at relationship with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
The Donald on the other hand, oh boy where do we start? First of all there is the wall with Mexico, the Mexican rapist comments, the banning of Muslims from entering the U.S. of A. and of course the nasty attacks on the dead American soldier and his family whose great crime was practicing Islam. Yikes.
This is where the friendship gets back on track. As Jack says “money can’t buy happiness it is happiness,” and I’m sure Donald would wholeheartedly agree. “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich,” Donald has noted graciously in the past.
Basically these guys both love cold hard cash, and love writing business books with tremendous titles and cover art.
Importance of Personal Appearance
Well there’s no comparison here. Jack managed to get into Princeton on a handsomeness scholarship, whereas Trump has a beaten-to-death ferret crudely stapled to his head.
Just look at these two when young, who would you kick out of your bed?
So how does this imaginary friendship shape up? Not great I’m afraid. I imagine Jack would do his part, support Don in his campaign outwardly while wincing in horror behind closed doors at the loudmouthed moron he has to support to stop (gasp) a woman becoming president.
Perhaps he would outright mock Donald to his face without the Don even noticing, a la the most deadbeat of Liz’s boyfriends, Dennis Winters?
Much has been said about the state of politics in 2016, but it’s a bit disturbing to think that a fictional character, meant to send up right wing corporate megalomaniacs, seems like a gentler, kinder option to the reality.
to our journalism!Find Out More
Looking back, life in 2006 seems like a much more innocent time. Honestly, I want to go to there.
What are you, a farmer? Make your watchlist great again by adding every single episode of 30 Rock on Lightbox
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.