The Makeover Show with Betty Suarez
Fandom: 30 Rock/Ugly Betty
Pairing: Jack/Liz, Liz/Daniel
Spoilers: 2.10 for 30 Rock, Zero Worship for Betty
Disclaimer: Not mine, don’t sue.
Summary: Nobody should want to be Jack Donaghy’s convenience wife. NOT part of any series.
It started with the random assistant wandering into Mode one morning.
“Oh, ew, it’s Jonathan,” Amanda said, rolling her eyes. “He thinks he’s hot because he’s Jack Donaghy’s assistant. Just the other night, he was bragging that he was going to be King of the Assistants at NBC because his boss was going to buy German TV.”
“Didn’t NBC just sell to the Germans?” Betty asked, baffled.
Amanda shrugged. “Whatever. Jonathan is a complete feeb either way. Except he tells all these funny stories about NBC’s very own Betty. Except her name is Liz and she’s a writer.”
Betty’s eyes immediately went wistful. “A writer? Really? For what show?” she asked.
Of course Amanda shrugged. Amanda never knew anything important that wasn’t about celebrities or photographers or ‘hot’ people. “It’s on NBC. Who cares, right?” she asked as the short assistant walked toward Mode’s reception desk. “Hey, Jonathan. How’s the King of NBC? Spreckening some Deutsche?”
Jonathan narrowed his eyes and glared. “How’s your asymptomatic case of the clap, Amanda? Did you HAVE give it to your poor puppy?” he asked nastily before noticing Betty. “Oh, my god, it’s your Liz! She’s so…wow. Wow. She’s real and not something you made up to torture assistants with a future! Wait ’til I tell Cerie. Hey, where’s Marc?”
“Slowly starving with Wilhelmina and totally dating Cliff, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man,” Amanda replied with a roll of her eyes and a puff of breath on her nails. “How is Cerie?”
“Incessantly bitching about her Greek Orthodox wedding. Some of us would LIKE to get married, hello,” Jonathan said with a catty sneer. “But seriously, you are so hotter than her. I always love visiting here and telling Cerie all about how Mode beats the crap out of TGS.”
Betty blinked. TGS with Tracy Jordan, formerly The Girlie Show? One of about six female-run shows on primetime network television, and probably the highest-rated. Was the much-mocked Liz…?
“TGS, written by Liz Lemon, TGS?” Betty asked. “Is that the Liz you’re making fun of? Are you joking? She’s like, a comedy pioneer! And comedy is a hard, hard field for women to break into, even nowadays.”
Jonathan and Amanda were united in their sneer-snort with two rolls of the eyes.
“Well, apparently she takes the pioneer part to heart,” Jonathan said. “No fashion sense whatsoever. And Amanda, oh my god, did I tell you? Scandal!”
Amanda perked up, because of course scandal at NBC was much, much more important than the plight of women comedy writers. Betty rolled her eyes and decided to listen.
“Scandal? Who’s your boss with now? I heard he broke up with the Congresswoman, who then totally started dating–” and Amanda snorted, “A blogger.”
“I KNOW, right?” Jonathan replied, smirking. “But CC may have done the better rebound than Jack. Jack has totally decided to do some hardcore ‘mentoring’ of Liz. Nothing naughty yet, but he asked me this morning to come over here and suggest to Alexis Meade that he’d love to do some advertising if Mode wanted to do a bit about NBC’s Fierce, Funny Females in the next issue.”
Amanda tilted her head. “I’m not sure that’s super-scandalous. Jack is getting kind of old. Maybe he’s settling for someone he KNOWS won’t leave him for a talking keyboard.”
Betty couldn’t deal with it anymore. Also, she liked the idea for the article a lot, and she was pretty sure she could convince Daniel…and maybe Alexis, if Alexis wasn’t being contrary to show off her power….to do it. And in a non-creepy-stalker way.
But first, she wanted to go warn Liz Lemon about the scandalous gossip. And if it meant Betty had an in on an NBC set, that was good. That meant Betty was doing the networking thing that Daniel liked her doing! It totally wasn’t Betty going to NBC to fangirl all over someone in entertainment who dressed normally or anything.
“Welcome to NBC,” a really perky blond guy said. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Liz Lemon,” Betty said. “I’m with Meade Publications?”
Perky blond guy nodded. He was…intensely perky. “I’ll get her immediately. Who should I say is calling?”
“Betty Suarez,” Betty said. “I work with Daniel Meade.”
NBC was as much of a zoo as Mode, but with more gawkers and randoms. Plus, nobody at Mode would be caught dead in the page jacket with their name on it. Oh, hey, that was an idea. Betty peered closer and realized Perky Guy’s name was Kenneth.
“Miss Soo-ar-ez, Miss Lemon will be happy to see you. She’s in Studio 6H, which is that way,” Kenneth said. “I like your necklace.”
“Thank you. My mom gave it to me,” Betty said.
She stumbled down the hallway as people with boxes of tomato sauce began complaining about the sketch they were going to do with it. Betty tried to imagine working for NBC; it definitely wasn’t the writing career she imagined, but neither was Mode. And writing with other women who weren’t anorexic would be closer to her dreams than otherwise.
Betty was on the look-out for a normal-looking, normally-dressed woman, now that Jonathan and Amanda had totally savaged Liz Lemon. She was not disappointed. A slender, wavy-haired lady in jeans and a sweater with crumbs on it was sitting on the bleachers, holding a script.
“No, Josh,” she said. “The pelvic tilt is ALL WRONG. We’re going for dorky, not fake Elvis.”
Jonathan, Betty decided, getting a better look at Liz Lemon, was a complete jerk. Liz Lemon was cute, even. Just because she wasn’t Amanda Tanen hot…
“Hi. Excuse me, you’re Liz Lemon, right?” Betty asked, sticking out her hand.
“That’s me,” Liz replied absently. “Wait, are you the girl from Mode?”
Betty smiled. “Yeah, that’s me. Betty Suarez,” she said, hand still out. Liz quickly shook it. “Is this a bad time?”
“No, it’s just — you look like a normal person,” Liz said, giving Betty a once-over. “My assistant, Cerie, is friends with these assistants at your magazine. Marc and Amanda, I think. I wasn’t expecting a Mode girl to look normal.”
Betty grimaced. “Yeah, they’re very focused on conventional beauty,” she said. “But I like to think I provide a good example at Mode.”
Liz nodded. “They brought you in to keep your boss from sleeping with you, didn’t they?” she asked dryly.
“Yes,” Betty said. “But now Daniel actually respects me! And I’m getting there with Alexis. She’s just really twisted around inside, because she hated herself so much when she was a he, and now she feels like she has to be more female than anyone so that people stop calling her a he-she. Also, Alexis is supercompetitive, so she doesn’t even know how much she hurts Daniel, it’s just the GAME to her.”
“So, no offense, but why are you here again?” Liz asked, slightly open-mouthed at Betty’s extensive exposition.
Betty shuffled a bit. “Well, I actually came here because I really respect your work. I admire how hard you had to work to get on top,” she said. “And assistants, we gossip. And Jonathan, Jack Donaghy’s assistant, was over at Mode and he was spreading some nasty gossip along with proposing a really great article, and so I thought hey, it’s a great chance to meet someone in the industry I admire AND help out a fellow normal person.”
Liz didn’t react precisely how Betty would have expected. She quietly covered her face with her hands and sighed. Deeply. “Is this about me, perhaps, having sex with my boss?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Betty said, abashed.
“Crud,” Liz said. “I’m going to kill him. Come on, Betty. I need to do damage control and you’re my witness.”
For some reason, Betty didn’t think Liz Lemon meant Jonathan when she was talking about the him she was going to kill.
That actually turned out to be right; Liz dragged Betty up to the executive offices and knocked on the one labeled “Jack Donaghy” with a smile so fake that Betty was impressed.
“Hi, Jack,” Liz said, opening the door and peeking in. “Can I have a quick meeting?”
“My door is always open,” a husky male voice said. “I see you’ve brought a colorful friend, as well.”
Liz rolled her eyes and rolled them hard. Betty was now thoroughly uncomfortable, because if she’d just gotten in the middle of a lovers’ spat, that was weird. Because she had enough problems at Mode; she didn’t want to get a weird reputation at NBC.
Jack Donaghy was cute for a slightly flabby middle-aged guy, though. Very corporate. He was looking at Betty as if he wasn’t sure she was real, though.
“This is Betty Suarez, from Mode,” Liz snarled, as if Mode had some sinister significance.
“The Betty? The one who turned Daniel Meade from a louche playboy into a respectable young publishing executive?” Jack inquired, giving Betty a closer look. “The legend comes to life. Wilhelmina Slater says that you’re the brains of the operation, and she’s usually accurate in her perceptions, if far too high-handed to be a good editor-in-chief.”
Of course this guy knew Wilhelmina. Of course. They’d probably done it, too. Ick.
Betty smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Donaghy. Jonathan was saying you wanted to do a layout of women from your comedies, and an article?” she asked, trying to get things from getting too weird.
Liz’s eyes narrowed. “Jack,” she snarled.
“It’s publicity for Jenna,” Jack said, holding his hands up. “And Jaime Pressley, and about ten other women who have nothing to do with you whatsoever.”
“Do we need to reiterate the talk AGAIN?” Liz asked, one hand on her hip.
Oh, seriously, Betty wished she could sink into the floor and disappear, because this was so not her department. Or even her conglomerate.
“You sent me a PowerPoint of the talk. Atop the email, atop the memo,” Jack said. “The talk is engraved on my brain, Lemon. Your personal boundaries are quite safe.”
“I am not the solution to your work-life balance,” Liz said. “And I’m not changing my mind, no matter how many nice things you do for my show and me.”
“Yes, that’s on slide eight of the PowerPoint, Lemon,” Jack said. “Miss Suarez, has my assistant had time to speak with Alexis Meade yet?”
“I’m not sure,” Betty said. “I support the article, so I think Daniel will go for it. Alexis probably will if you talk to her personally. She’s a little uneasy because people are sometimes weirded by…you know.”
“Her transsexual transformation?” Jack asked mercilessly. “No need to worry. A personal meeting with Alexis sounds capital. Do you hear this, Lemon? Your little friend, who clearly has the highest ethical standards, approves of this article. Can you drop your suspicions about ulterior motives and promote your show for me?”
“I’ll do the article,” Liz said. Betty noticed she didn’t say anything about dropping the suspicions. Also, Jack was kind of an abrupt jerk. But in a weird, kind of nice way where he did genuinely nice things with open ulterior motives. “You need to keep the talk engraved on your brain.”
“I need to undo the damage you did by selling NBC to Germans,” Jack replied. “Lemon — go. Promote. Practice with the Rosetta Stone course I sent you to learn to negotiate with our putative new masters.”
He waved them off, and Betty blinked as they walked out of the office. “Is he always like that?” she asked Liz.
“Yep,” Liz said, lips tight. “So you say Daniel’s a good boss, huh?”
“I heard that, Lemon,” Jack called.
“Good!” Liz sassed back. “Come on, Betty. I’ll buy you lunch. We can be the only women in New York who like food.”
Liz Lemon really, really liked food. She was shoveling mashed potatoes into her mouth while explaining to Betty the horrors of working at NBC and the whole sordid story of how Jack Donaghy had broken up with this Congresswoman and then turned around and asked Liz to become his fellow workaholic paramour.
“And he’s like, ‘passion is overrated. Especially when one’s passion is his or her job, Lemon. And that’s us. Our hottest passions belong to our work,'” Liz said between mouthfuls. “That might even be true, but how insulting is that?”
Jonathan had a point about the crazy. Betty would admit that. On the other hand, to be a comedy pioneer, you’d have to be super-devoted to the job.
“Well, I’d think the biggest problem is you two aren’t into each other in that way,” Betty said, trying to be practical. “I mean, Mr. Donaghy can’t really be looking forward to a lot of bad sex just so he can say he has a girlfriend, right?”
The gravy boat drenched the mashed potatoes again. Liz had possibly slapped the waiter’s hand away when he tried to take it from her earlier. Betty was really admitting the crazy. But what if it was her? What if Daniel suggested they should get together because of their mutual love of working too much? She’d totally be hitting the enchiladas.
“Jack says that if he can remember that much from a drunken encounter, it would be better than good,” a sad, shamed little voice admitted. “Oh, um…that was an overshare.”
“Yeah, a little,” Betty said. “But just because you two got drunk and did it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! What’s Mr. Donaghy offering for this so-called deal?”
“Separate apartments with no pressure to cohabitate, co-parenthood at the five year mark if we mutually agree, no hassling me about loving my job more than him, and he’ll help me get a really nice apartment at this co-op on Central Park West,” Liz said. “Plus I could tell my mom I was with a network exec. And Jack also likes to eat.”
“But who cares, if you don’t love him?” Betty asked, feeling uncomfortably like the grown-up in the conversation. Then again, she got the feeling that she beat Liz hollow when it came to having good relationships, so maybe that explained it.
“Seriously,” Liz agree, leaning on her hand and staring off into space. “Are you going to eat your cake? I brood less when I have cake.”
She was so thinking about taking the deal. That was super-super pathetic. Betty needed to introduce Liz to someone at Meade. Except she had sworn she would never try to set Daniel up after that one time, and Liz and Daniel would totally not hit it off because Daniel still had shallow tendencies. Maybe Christina knew someone who would be good for Liz.
“You need friends,” Betty said decisively. “Like, friends who do not work at NBC and who are women and not supermodel-types.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” Liz said, still gazing at Betty’s cake.
“Why don’t you come back to Mode with me? Once you talk to Daniel, you’ll feel better about the interview, and you can make sure it’s helping everyone, not just some creepy stalking technique of Jack Donaghy’s,” Betty suggested. “Plus, you can meet my friend Christina.”
“Will Amanda be there?”
“Yeah, but I know how to handle Amanda,” Betty said, picking up her slice of cake with a grin. “Come on, this’ll be fun, I promise.”
“Would he care if you had other boyfriends?” Christina was asking intently, sticking pins into the new creation she had immediately decided to put Liz Lemon into. “Because if he didn’t, I’d take that deal.”
“You’re not helping, Christina,” Betty said.
“I need a hundred thousand dollars to save my husband’s life,” Christina said. “If a man like Jack Donaghy made me a deal like the one he’s making Liz here, I’d snap it up before you could say pre-nuptial agreement. And he’s good-looking, right?”
“He’s not bad,” Liz said with a shrug. “Ow! Pin.”
“I told you not to move, silly,” Christina said. “Central Park West, Betty. Someone who wasn’t bloody at you all the time, why are you fussing with this nonsense, Christina, you’re not paying attention to me, all you care about is your job…stand still. You know, you have a perfectly lovely body. You should stop pretending that you’re the Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Alexis was out at lunch with Donaghy, it had turned out. Daniel was also off at lunch, which, Amanda had informed Betty before doing the happy prospector dance for Betty’s excess cake, he’d had to arrange himself. Which made Daniel feel neglected. Which meant he wasn’t answering the phone.
“And I’m not Marilyn Monroe, either,” Liz said, pursing her lips. “What are you doing to me, anyway?”
“Dressing you properly for that meeting with Daniel,” Christina said. “You have half of a sense of style, you realize. It’s a case of realizing that you are not the business formal type and never will be. However, if one highlights that you are a brilliant, funny media type who can be fashionable while expressing disapproval of the fashion industry, we can show off what we ‘average’ ladies have to offer.”
“Good eating when the apocalypse comes?” Amanda suggested, wandering up with a cake crumb mustache on her upper lip.
“Look who’s talking,” said Liz. “You did the happy prospector dance for cake. I’ve done a lot of things for cake. The happy prospector dance is not one of them.”
“You can have cake when you’re blessed with good metabolism,” Amanda said, punctuating her comment with a tiny burp. “So, Christina, are you going to carry the evilspawn or not? Marc is like, freaking out. He says he fears Wilhelmina will decide gay men are the same as women and order doctors to give him a womb.”
“Piss off, Amanda,” Christina retorted. “I’ll tell Wilhelmina when I told her I’d tell her. Right now, we are giving Liz here a bit of a tarting up so that she realizes she is far, far too good to be Jack Donaghy’s convenience wife.”
Amanda paused, tilting her head. “A convenience wife, you say?” she asked. “The Jack Donaghy, you say?”
“Sorry, you don’t work for NBC,” Liz said, rolling her eyes. “The reason I’m the convenience wife is because I am a life-free workaholic who understands why we must sacrifice all except nice apartments for the company, and because Jack knows that if he can’t find me, I’m probably watching television with a canister of popcorn. Also, and I quote, ‘our genetics would combine admirably.'”
“Sexy,” Amanda said dryly.
“Very,” Liz replied dourly.
“Okay, I’m in,” Amanda said. “Whenever the Scotch witch finishes with her voodoo, I’ll do your hair and make-up. I think you should make the flabby bastard suffer for basically calling you a charity case. If he’s asking you when he could have half the bimbos of Manhattan to be his convenience women, he clearly thinks you’ve got something going on. All that other stuff, that was Donaghy pulling a neg.”
Upon meeting everyone’s blank stares, Amanda rolled her eyes. “Pulling a neg,” she repeated. “It’s when a pickup artist says something nasty about you so that you’ll pay attention to him and be easier to wear down. It works really well on women with low self-esteem.”
“Oh, really now?” Liz asked. “God, no wonder it almost worked. I hate men. Why couldn’t I like women?”
“We could make out for twenty minutes,” Amanda suggested, perking up suddenly. “Just in case.”
“Trust me, I had a bisexual sorority girl feed me the exact same line in college,” Liz said. “I wasn’t interested then, either.”
She smirked at Betty, who smirked back, because it was rare that you got to do that to someone like Amanda, and it was ALWAYS worth silent gloating.
Daniel, Alexis and Jack were in Daniel’s office when they emerged from the back caverns of Mode. Betty was excited. She was helping a fellow normal woman get some revenge against an oppressor! Plus, she had done networking on her own, and found out there were even scarier places to work than Mode.
“Where have you two been?” Alexis asked. “The phones have been ringing off the hook, Amanda.”
“Ooh, that’s never happened at Mode before,” Amanda said. “I’m on it. Aren’t you even going to ask about Betty’s friend here?”
Alexis spared a quick glance for Liz. And then blinked and looked again. “I’m sorry, we haven’t met,” she said. “I’m assuming you’re one of the new designers, right? And these two have kept you waiting?”
Liz glance over at Betty, who almost bit her lip with glee. “No, I’m Elizabeth Lemon, head writer for TGS with Tracy Jordan,” she said, putting her hand out. “Mr. Donaghy probably mentioned my show as one of the potential features for the article and layout he’s interested in.”
“Liz Lemon, really?” Alexis said. “I wouldn’t have guessed. Jack has been telling us a lot about the rebirth of comedy at NBC, and how women have been driving that.”
Liz looked so, so very good. Christina had totally gone genius there, taking Liz’s jeans and adding some classy but very cool gold lace insets with metallic embroidery highlights, and this fantastic Gucci belt that highlighted skinny meant nice, flat stomach that could do that belt. Then she’d added a sateen weave black button-down with wide cuffs and three-quarter sleeves, a tailored denim vest with a fake gold watch chain to go with the gold styling in the belt, and the coup de grace, these amazing dark purple boots with just enough heel.
“One day, I will do this for you, when you let me,” Christina had said pointedly to Betty. “Do you see how I didn’t stick Liz in sequin hotpants and spandex and yet she is gorgeous and stylish?”
Alexis was saying something to Betty, who tried to regain focus. “I’m sorry, I missed that,” Betty said, glowing at the power of fashion.
“I was saying, Liz was telling me that you went to NBC to get her perspective on the article. Very bold, Betty,” Alexis said. “But I like it, especially when you added in a makeover element. I mean…wow, right?”
“I know!” Betty agreed. “Hey, Daniel.”
Daniel looked up from his conversation with Jack. Oh, wow. He had totally just checked Liz out. And he was totally doing the Daniel Meade look on her.
“Betty, where’d you go this morning?” Daniel asked. “I wanted you along on the NBC lunch.”
“Oh, I went to NBC,” Betty said. “I’m a big fan of Liz, here, so I wanted to talk to her about the feature. Did you know she’s one of only eight female showrunners on network television?”
“Liz, like Liz Lemon?” asked Daniel, still doing the Daniel look. “Wow. Well, it is a pleasure to meet you, Liz. I’m Daniel Meade, obviously, and you know Jack.”
Mr. Donaghy’s mouth was kind of open. He was also apparently impressed with Liz Lemon, hot babe who was totally too good to be his wife of convenience.
“It’s great to meet you. Betty says nice things,” Liz said.
Daniel nodded. Betty wanted to kick him, except it was doing good things for Liz’s self-esteem to have him ogling so very, very openly.
“Why don’t we go into my office?” Daniel was saying. “Alexis, you can talk with Mr. Donaghy, right? I think I want to hear Liz’s perspective on this article privately.”
Betty threw Liz the thumbs up as Daniel and Liz wandered off. Liz grinned, winked, and followed Daniel.
It ended with an assistant wandering out of Mode, feeling more than a little bit pleased with herself.
“You’re sure you’re going to be okay?” Betty asked Daniel. “Be nice, okay? She’s not one of your usual model types.”
“I know, Betty,” Daniel said. “Don’t worry. I’ve dated smart women before.”
He hung up on her, but not before Betty spotted Jack Donaghy, looking rather at odds, standing on a street corner.
“Do you not know how to call a cab?” Betty asked. “Because I heard there are rich people who can’t.”
Jack Donaghy shook his head. “I was waiting to talk to you,” he said. “You’ve taught me several valuable lessons today, Suarez. Wilhelmina Slater’s a fool to underestimate you the way she does.”
“I thought Wilhelmina thought I was good for Daniel and the brains of the operation?” Betty asked, thoroughly confused.
“She does, but she doesn’t understand how your cheerfully ruthless spirit is the true master at Mode. Unless I miss my guess — and I rarely do — in five years, Meade Publications will be yours to do with what you will,” Jack said. “Anyway, I wanted to thank you, Suarez. You’ve taught me not to undervalue Lemon.”
“Seriously,” Betty said. “She’s smart and hot, and way too good to be your convenience wife.”
“Indeed, it appears that beauty lies beneath the geek,” Jack agreed. “And I’m not as disinterested a participant as I believed myself to be.”
Betty raised an eyebrow. “In English, please?” she asked.
“I’m jealous of Daniel’s date with Lemon,” Jack said. “It appears I may be interested in her as more than a wife of convenience after all.”
Oh. Betty wasn’t sure if she approved of that or not. Not that she really though Liz and Daniel were going anywhere, because Liz was way smarter than Daniel, and Daniel was way less food-obsessed than Liz, but it would be good for both of them.
“Well, I don’t know anything about that,” Betty said. “And I’m not sure this is appropriate. After all, didn’t Liz send you the PowerPoint about boundaries?”
“To hell with the PowerPoint. I had Jonathan shred it,” Jack said. “But I simply wished to reiterate I respect your formidable skills and owe you a debt of gratitude, Betty Suarez.”
He took her hand and shook it briskly, before walking off and hailing a cab in like, thirty seconds.
Betty watched the cab drive off and shook her head.
Wow, she was glad she didn’t work at NBC.