It's mid-May, late at night. Most everyone has gone home, except Liz—as usual. Tired of rewrites, she grabs a letter from the towering stack of mail on her desk and rips it open. She's eating a bag of Cheez-Doodles, but stops mid-chew while she skims the note. Frowning, she swallows and reads the letter again. It's dated from yesterday, and she really should get to her mail quicker, because it's a letter from a magazine company wanting to interview her. It seems believable enough; she's the head writer of a popular show, and they've been raking the awards lately. This isn't the first time she's been approached for an interview, and it wouldn't be her first cover (she still has Time Out New York framed in her bedroom). Okay, it would be her second cover.
But this magazine is Esquire, and Esquire is notorious for the pictures that usually accompany the articles. They feature prominent female figures, in more than one sense of the phrase. Liz is aware of this. So the fact that they want her for their cover is mindboggling.
On the other hand, there is likelihood that the people at the magazine will respect her mind, too. Esquire is a magazine that Liz likes to read sometimes, because some of the women who are featured in it are heroes. Liz decides that she deserves some recognition. And she's pretty good at being funny for a living, so it won't be too hard to do it in response to questions.
So she'll do it. It will be fine; maybe the feature will help her career in the long run. Liz also thinks that it will help her sex life, which has been looking pretty grim lately.
"I'm going to be a cover girl," she whispers excitedly, and begins composing a response email.
"Beautiful! Gorgeous! Wonderful! Chin up, darling, you're not nineteen."
The photographer is showering Liz with more compliments than she's ever received in her life and simultaneously managing to criticize her. After a while, though, she loosens up and gets into it. She's figured out that the photo shoot crew really likes it when she makes her face look like she just took a Benadryl. It's pretty easy, actually. She just has to make as many angles with her body as possible while attempting to not fall over in four-inch stilettos.
"Great. Now give me slightly-sarcastic-sexy, like you're entirely aware what you're doing to him." Liz thrusts the empty martini glass towards the cute guy model for the tenth time, looking towards the ceiling with an "oh, well" expression. She's been told that they'll Photoshop in the liquid later, but she still feels weird about it. At the same time, it's really, really fun.
She's enjoying this. The guy who she's fake-throwing a drink at is like a more muscular James Marsden, and she's already used to the tape that's holding her dress up. Also, she's been told that she'll be allowed to hit crafts services when the shoot is over, so that's a plus. All in all, this is way better than the excuse that she gave for taking the day off (foot surgery). She did the interview last week, and went pretty well. She's confident that they won't make her seem like a total idiot (they don't use all of the quotes, right? Right).
Four hours later, the photographer lowers his camera. "That's a wrap, people!"
By the week after the shoot, Liz had totally forgotten about the magazine as TGS quickly took over her life once more.
Now they're wrapping up yet another season. It's a warm June morning when Liz walks into her office to find a stack of mail sitting on her desk, which she ignores for a second while she looks for the political sketch from the other day. After she finds the paper, she places it beside the stack of mail and sorts through it. There's a bill, a catalog, an invitation to a party for the July issue of Esquire…the magazine!
She remembers with a jolt as her eyes catch the white magazine cover. She holds it up to look at the photo below the red cursive title. The woman—her, she can hardly believe it—wears a tiny black dress that barely reaches her thigh, and a come-hither expression on her face. Liz is surprised to find that she doesn't look that bad.
She flips to her spread and studies the first photo. It's her—or some freakishly sexy version of her—in a black-and-white checkered bathroom, standing over a blond woman who's presumably throwing up into a toilet. Liz, however, just casually holds a champagne glass while she winks at someone off-camera. They didn't give her extensions (she specifically refused), so her hair, while teased, is totally real. Her makeup is dark and smoky and her leg looks awesome in the picture. It's actually a bit creepy how good she looks, like a wild lady who parties every night.
It's almost a little too ironic.
Meanwhile, the writers are getting impatient. Liz disappeared into her office fifteen minutes ago without giving them the sketch, so they grow increasingly bored. They're about to start a game of foosball when Lutz pulls out a magazine from his bag. Frank immediately snatches it from his grasp, and waves it in the air.
"What's this, Lutzy? Your daily dose of healthy body image?" Frank smirks at Lutz's protests, and is about to hand it back over when he glances at the cover.
"Oh, it's Esquire. Who's on the…? He trails off upon recognizing the photo, and his jaw drops.
"What is it?" Toofer asks.
"Whoa, you're not gonna believe this."
Frank begins to read in his usual monotone: "'GIRLIE GONE WILD: A Hot Night With Elizabeth Lemon, the World's Funniest Woman.'"
"Let me see!"
Frank purposely holds the magazine up in front of his face, blocking the others' view of the magazine's front.
"Huh, didn't think that Liz was the handcuff type."
"You're making it up. Gimme that!" Pete says, and grabs the magazine from him. He skims the cover, and raises his eyebrows. Frank's not lying—his oldest friend is handcuffed to a cop and wearing very little besides an alluring expression. He's married, but still. "Wow…"
Frank grabs the magazine back. He has every intention of framing the picture of Liz dancing on a table with a bottle of booze.
Back in Liz's office, she closes the magazine and is about to put it in her desk drawer when Jenna walks in.
"Hey, Liz, do you...wait, what's with the magazine?"
Liz doesn't have the chance to respond before Jenna snatches it from her.
She finds the spread right away. "God, Liz, is that you? Is that all you? I know they air brush and everything, but they can't air brush your facial expression, can they? You look…wow."
Jenna makes a note to get her agent on the phone with these people, because really. Liz looks amazing.
"The photographer was pretty good," says Liz. "He just told me what to do."
"Wait until Jack sees this!"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you don't expect him to not find out, do you? He'll go insane."
Liz frowns. No way would Jack even care about something like this.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Jenna. It's not really a big deal. I've done interviews before."
Jenna smirks. "Not like this. I guarantee that if you don't get to him first, he'll find out second-hand. He probably has his own subscription."
Liz rolls her eyes. "Whatever. Now go away, I have work to do."
Jack has ordered Jonathon to block all of his calls. He's glued to his latest project: combing every inch of the magazine that arrived in his mailbox this morning. He's been speechless since breakfast, and still doesn't know what to think.
Lemon—Elizabeth Lemon, the sarcastic nerd whom with he has worked for the past few years—is the subject of an undeniably sexy photo shoot. He flips back and forth between the pages, unable to stop doing so. Liz splayed in a black-and-white checkered bathtub, laughing like she's in on some joke that he's missing. Liz filing her nails in a sinfully short dress with a 'V' down to there, wearing red-soled Louboutins and a mischievous expression. Liz painting her mouth with scarlet lipstick, hair tousled in an I-just-had-sex fashion. Liz in a bellboy's cap, shapely legs dangling over a bin of white towels. The list goes on and on. He finds himself alternating most frequently between his two favorites: the cover shot, with a handcuffed Liz thrusting her hips in rebellion, and the photo with Liz bending over in the bathroom. He is a man, after all.
He thinks it's time to confront the temptress herself.
"Jonathon, send Lemon up."
"Yes, Mr. Donaghy."
As Liz rides the elevator up, she finds herself getting nervous. She has no reason to, she thinks. The magazine is fine, it's cool; it's not a big deal. Maybe he hasn't found out about it. Yep, that's it—he doesn't know about the feature and he never will.
She opens the door to his office, and…he's reading Esquire.
"Hey, Jack, what's up?"
Jack lowers the magazine and narrows his eyes at her presence.
"Lemon, what is this?" He taps it once, in case she doesn't know what he's talking about.
She straightens her shoulders. "They asked me to be on the cover and I said yes. Is there a problem?"
He pauses; perhaps he hadn't expected that response. "I don't know. I'm not quite sure what to say about it."
"You could say 'congratulations'. There's a party for the issue, you know, and I can bring someone. I was going to maybe ask you."
"That's very kind. I…"
She doesn't miss how his eyes rake her form.
"The photos are honestly excellent, Lemon. Very sexy. Well done."
"Thanks, Jack. I'll sign your copy, if you want," she says, grinning.
Jack smiles. "I'd like that."
He'll definitely be buying a few more copies on his way home.