My favourite comedy show of the last decade is undoubtedly 30 Rock. A sitcom that revolves around the makings of a Saturday Night Live-esque sketch show, TGS (The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan), its capacity for relentless off-the-wall jokes is unmatched. It’s a show that fits my sense of humour perfectly.
Sadly, 30 Rock came to an end in January 2013 with a shortened Season 7. It was a critical darling, with Emmy nominations galore each year and great reviews, but it didn’t quite pull in the ratings that channel NBC wanted. It never really had the same syndication push over here in the UK that similar shows such as Friends and Scrubs had, so it’s only now that I’ve been able to watch Season 7 in a proper way, on DVD. Having now watched the entirety of the show, I’m very happy to say that the final episodes of 30 Rock were as clever and funny as any other and sent the show out on a high.
For those that are unaware about the show, the lead character in the show is Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), a middle-aged woman trying to balance work and home life. From being a social outcast and oddball in the beginning, she has gradually become more “normal” in the eyes of her colleagues, with a husband and ambitions of having children. The other main attraction of the show is network president Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), whose amazing vanity and doctrinal views are as crazy as they are hilarious, and his quest to reach the top of NBC’s parent company Kabletown. The show generally sees Liz tries to wrangle the eccentric stars of her show Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and seeks the advice of Jack the executive. These are just the main threads of the series which this season included bizarre subplots such as the mad Jenna and her fake Jimmy Buffet-style personality drawing legions of fans that could potentially swing the 2012 US Presidential election and Tracy drawing Jack into a lawsuit battle over his movie Aunt Phatso.
30 Rock continues its great satire of modern TV and culture in general into its last season. The digs at parent channel NBC (which is parodied directly in the show) keep coming as they indirectly criticise the way in which their show was handled and the “dumbing down” of TV. Brilliant pastiches of other programs like the made-up game show Homynym are part of the show’s edge and lasting appeal. Through Jack it also provides a brilliant send-up of the rich Republican stereotype, with his attempts at getting Mitt Romney this season part of the show’s rich heritage of political jokes. But still 30 Rock’s trademark humour is its ability to make jokes with almost every line, a trait that only Family Guy really does as well on TV. It’s a show so quotable with so many memorable lines that make me break with laughter. Some gems from this season include:
“He’s avoiding me. What am I my son’s piano recital?”
“The night is young, and neither are you.”
“At some point, you have to turn the horse into glue”
“She’s lying like a rug. Rug is an offensive term for Persians that I made up.”
“I’m doing absolutely nothing. I got the idea from watching your President Obama the last four years.”
“My boyfriend was supposed to pick me up after that shoot, so I called him and I was like “OJ, where are you?” And he was like, “Wait, you’re alive? Then who did I kill?””
“There are no bad ideas Lemon, only great ideas that go horribly wrong.”
“Sorry Liz, I’m not even sure if they serve brunch after…the 90s.”
“I’ll have my Jews on you so fast, you’ll think you’re an Asian girl.”
Whilst being hysterically funny, the final season does a great job of wrapping up the show’s main plots and giving it an emotional resonance that would be forgiven if it was missed but makes the show a lot stronger for it. Perhaps the best episode in terms of drama is the third to last one, “A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World”. Jack finally becomes king of the castle as he’s installed as CEO of Kabletown, the cast and crew of TGS give up on their quest to save it from cancellation and Liz gets the children she’s wanted for so long, adopted twins that seem like they’ll be able to replace Jenna and Tracy as the people she cares for when the show ends.
I’m sad that 30 Rock is over, as there’s nothing quite like it on TV at the moment and certainly nothing quite as funny. But to see it end in the way it did, and stay consistently funny to the end makes it almost worthwhile. If you haven’t seen it, definitely put on a few episodes and see if it’s for you. And if even if you don’t, at least take Tracy Jordan’s sage life advice and “live every week like it’s shark week”.