Why Does '30 Rock' Keep Ripping Off 'Sex and the City'?

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HBO/NBC


John Slattery guest stars on a beloved New York City sitcom as a handsome politician with strange bathroom preferences.

Sound familiar? It describes the plot of last night's 30 Rock, where the Mad Men star played a tea party-esque candidate who wears a diaper in one of his campaign ads. But it also sounds a lot like the storyline of an episode that aired 10 years ago on another Manhattan-focused comedy: Sex and the City.

Slattery had a two-episode arc during the show's third season, when he played a candidate for city government who dates Carrie, the series' protagonist, until they break up over his interest in bedroom urination.

This is just the latest plotline 30 Rock has borrowed from Sex and the City. The NBC show has repeated numerous story arcs from its HBO predecessor—most of them dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a single woman in New York City. Here, a list of 30 Rock-SATC overlaps:

Boss mistakes straight single woman for a lesbian In the first season of Sex and the City, high-powered lawyer Miranda Hobbes gets set up with a woman at a work softball game. But Miranda isn't gay. Nevertheless, she tries to make it work with Sid, giving her a big kiss at the end of the episode. No dice: Miranda is definitely straight.

An episode in 30 Rock's first season follows the same pattern: soon after he becomes her boss, Jack Donaghy tells Liz Lemon he's going to set her up with someone special—who turns out to be a woman. Like Miranda, Liz tries to muster attraction to Gretchen, but it doesn't work.

Single woman has difficulty buying apartment High-powered lawyer that she is, Miranda decides to buy her own apartment. But despite her excellent job and clean credit record, everyone from her real estate agent to her bank can't believe she wants to buy when she doesn't have a man in her life—and that she'll be able to cover the mortgage without help from her father.

Liz also attempts to buy her own place as a gesture of her own professional success. But she runs into problems as well: the co-op board of the building she wants to move into also is suspicious of a single woman as a tenant.

Single woman has anxiety about dying alone in apartment No sooner does Miranda move into her new apartment than she nearly dies in it. While eating Chinese alone one night, she starts choking on a piece of food and has to administer the Heimlich maneuver on herself to avoid asphyxiating.

30 Rock repeats this storyline nearly identically in its first season. Liz is eating a microwave dinner when she realizes she can't breathe. And she survives by giving herself the Heimlich.

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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