The NBC sitcom Great News frequently builds its comedy around workplace issues and slides cutting jokes about public figures into its dialogue. (My favorite from last week’s episode was the perfectly casual reference to Eric Trump’s teeth sharpener.) But one of the best comedies on television really outdid itself Thursday night with “Honeypot!,” an episode about sexual harassment that happened to air in the midst of a snowballing Harvey Weinstein scandal.
The internet has frequently bowed down before 30 Rock’s ability to call out the misogynistic, abusive actions of male celebrities, including Bill Cosbyand, yes, Harvey Weinstein, long before the media fully reported on them. This half-hour of Great News — a comedy created by former 30 Rock writer Tracey Wigfield, and executive produced by 30 Rock vets Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, and David Miner — is a sharp reminder of just how much DNA these two shows share.
Co-written by Fey and Sam Means, another 30 Rock vet who also writes for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Honeypot!” focuses on inappropriate behavior committed by Diana St. Tropez (Fey), the head of MMN, the cable network that employs every character on Great News. While it coincidentally airs at a time when Weinstein is finally being exposed for his decades of alleged abuse of women, the episode is most clearly meant to evoke Roger Ailes, the late head of Fox News, who resigned from his role after more than two dozen women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. In one scene, Portia Scott-Griffith — Nicole Richie’s self-promotional anchorwoman, who has name-dropped Ailes in previous episodes — calls him out specifically. “My mentor Roger Ailes had been whipping it out in front of women for decades,” she says. “By the way, bad penis. It’s actually why they started calling penises junk.” As a light sitcom, this episode came to play. But also, it totally did not come to play.
As we learn, Diana is committing a vaguely Ailes-esque sin aimed at several men on staff, demanding that they do absurd but degrading things, like bending over to pick up her pens or eating bananas in front of her. But Portia and Katie (Briga Heelan), a producer, are reluctant to report Diana for a number of reasons. For one, Diana recently announced that she’s been promoted, and will soon become the COO of the conglomerate that owns MMN (as well as Nerf and Lockheed Martin), so she’s got one foot out the door anyway. More importantly, the women simply don’t believe that their empowered, fully leaned-in idol would do something so awful.
(Excerpt) Read More in: Vulture