Despite the only recent mainstream, enveloping coverage of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, there long have been warnings about and jabs at Cosby's alleged behavior in pop culture — including a reference in a 2009 episode of 30 Rock. Unfortunately, no one really noticed until now.
Crushable's Jenni Maier recently re-watched the episode, Season 3's "The Bubble," which features Upper Darby's Tina Fey as the sole writer. It appears to have been a popular episode, with a guest appearance from Jon Hamm, who plays a man so good looking no one will criticize him despite being horrible at everything.
A secondary plot in "The Bubble" revolves around contract negotiations between Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy and Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan. Donaghy hopes to hire Jordan back after he quits, and for leverage hires a Bill Cosby impersonator to do the convincing. View the clip here.
Here is the exchange, as transcribed by Crushable's Maier:
Jack Donaghy: I've arranged for one of Tracy's childhood idols to reach out to him.
Tracy Jordan: Hello?
Jack Donaghy: Tracy, this is Jack, I have someone here who wants to speak with you.
Rick: Tracy, this is Bill Cosby…
Liz Lemon: [whispering] Really? This is your strategy?
Jack Donaghy: [whispering and smiling] I heard him do this at a party!
Rick: …I want you to come back to the TGS for the people who like the jokes and the things.
Tracy Jordan: Bill Cosby, you got a lotta nerve gettin' on the phone wit' me after what you did to my Aunt Paulette!
Rick: I think you're confusing me with someone else.
Tracy Jordan: 1971. Cincinnati. She was a cocktail waitress with the droopy eye!
Rick: I'm the guy… with the pudding…
Now, in 2009, years before the Cosby allegations gained significant traction, that joke easily could just have been to illustrate how off-the-wall Morgan's character, Jordan, actually is. But given that Fey, the episode's writer, is both from the Philadelphia area and likely familiar with the accusations against Cosby, there could be more at play. Doubly so considering that Hannibal Buress, the comedian who ignited the mainstream coverage of the alleged Cosby assaults, was once a 30 Rock writer and actor, though not for this episode.
What seems more likely than a coincidence is that the 30 Rock writers felt frustrated that this man continually got away with his alleged sexual assaults because he was a famous TV dad. So they found a way to call him out within their show without any repercussions from the media.
Perhaps a little out there, yes. But with some 20 women having stepped forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, the thought does bear consideration.