Today on Couchtime, we’ve got a fantastic guest post from the witty, lovely Krista Spurr of Bite Sized Travel. While I never regularly watched 30 Rock, I’ve always appreciated the amazing comedic chemistry of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. When Krista suggested she write a guest post for the blog I leaped at the chance to have a real fan bid it farewell.
And hey, everyone please wish her a Happy Birthday! Now without further ado, here’s Krista:
It i s with deep sadness that I prepare to say goodbye to one of the shows with which I’ve always felt a deep, separated-at-birth kind of kinship, 30 Rock. As the show bows tonight after seven barely-watched seasons, I asked Jill if I could write a guest post that started as a love letter, turned into a weird confessional, then back into a love letter. (The final indignity, 30 Rock‘s last episode airs on my 39th birthday. They don’t know how perfect that conclusion is for both of us.)
When 30 Rock premiered back in 2006, I watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Over the summer of 2007, I finally caught an episode, “The Source Awards,” (S01E16) which featured badass hippity-hopper Ghostface Killah getting a tummy ache from too much of Donaghy Estates’ terrible wine. “What. Is. This?” I asked. The next day, I went directly a DVD store (remember those?) to buy Season 1, and spent the weekend mainlining it.
Some might say it was love at eventual sight, a recurring theme in both my and Liz Lemon’s lives.
Through the years, the scheduling changes, and brief hiatuses to accommodate Tina Fey’s second pregnancy, I never saw myself in Liz Lemon’s success (which, like me, has almost always been in spite of herself), but in her deep, unapologetic weirdness.
Liz Lemon is a woman who herds cats, wrangles the weirdos of TGS and manages to be relatively successful at work that most people wouldn’t consider a real job, television writer. She does all right financially, but is hopeless romantically, and has a set of weirdly confident personality characteristics that generates loyal friends, challenging coworkers and comedically random nemeses. However much I may want to be Tina Fey, the fact is, I am a lot closer Liz Lemon. Minus the other fact that I am the boss of no one.
Even more than equal-favourite Arrested Development, I consider 30 Rock my television spirit animal. With an always-expanding universe of carefully-written whackadoos, history will prove to be the best-ever celebration of a group a people’s unrelenting commitment to being itself, warts, weirdly-confident sexuality, corrective footwear to corrective headgear, and all.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled in the last couple of weeks articulating 30 Rock’s greatness. I won’t pile on with another list of greatest episodes. Simply, that’s impossible, because I liked the overwhelming majority of them. I can pick out at least three things in every single episode that still make me laugh out loud. And will, for the rest of my life.
However, there are a lot of highlights that bear gathering up in a bunch and reliving. So grab some throwing wine and settle in for a trip to Memory Lane in midtown Manhattan. Let the party begin!
Early in 30 Rock’s run, Liz attempted to buy an apartment (S2E10 “Episode 210”). Anxiously waiting for the co-op board to finish its deliberation, Liz had a glass of wine and started looking for answers.
We’ve all been there, am I right?
Over the years, Liz and her boss, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) had the perfect mentor-mentee, brother-sister relationship. With Jack taking the role of responsible adult, he was largely responsible for shepherding Liz Lemon to adulthood. Except for that one time he briefly left NBC to work in the drain-circling Bush White House, and he and Matthew Broderick created a gay bomb and may have done things to Dick Cheney. The short version, Jack excelled at everything, even being Tracy Jordan (S2E04 “Rosemary’s Baby”).
Jack’s burns were often about Liz’s looks while his advice was often focused on her sex life. There were two things I could never really reconcile: Liz Lemon’s abhorrence of sexuality and everyone else’s insistence that she was both fat and ugly. Over the years, I’ve taken to thinking the former was adopted as a plot point so Tina Fey didn’t have to explain her character’s sex life to her real-life father (read Bossypants, what I just said will make more sense), and the latter to be satire about the entertainment industry. I hope it was satire.
While Liz was meant to be largely undateable, she had a series of questionable-but-hot boyfriends, including Real Man™ Jon Hamm. As Drew, Liz’s impossibly handsome doctor beau, we learned his incredible handsomeness came with a price, a complete lack of knowledge about how the world works for the rest of us trolls. When Liz gave Drew a dose of reality by beating him in tennis, he shouted in frustration, “This racquet is a fart!” Now, every time I shout, “Don’t be a jerk, printer!” at the printer in my office, I’m really saying, “This racquet is a fart!” (S03E15 “The Bubble”)
As the show embraced its fate of being a well-loved-by-a-small-group-of-people critical favourite, it just got better and better, leaning into its weirdness to give the characters depth, and above all, great reasons for being weird:
- Liz experiences career success and starts calling wine “Business juice.” No arguments here.
- Frequent knocks at the absurdly confident, including the insane awesomeness of Kim Jong-il’s cult of personality, as portrayed by Margaret Cho.
- TGS producer Pete Hornberger was a guitarist for Loverboy and an Olympic-calibre archer who was denied the opportunity to compete by the American boycott of the 1980 Olympics.
- The world of 30 Rock enjoyed an imaginary holiday, Leap Day, complete with songs, a movie and mythology. I promise you, we will revisit this in 2016.
- Liz had everyone’s bad boyfriend in Dennis Duffy, the Beeper King. Through Dennis, 30 Rock was successful in keeping beepers on the cultural radar long after they vanished everywhere else.
- Kathy Geiss, daughter of GM Chairman Don Geiss, likes unicorns, Mark Wahlberg and soap operas and managed to become president of a TV network. If her, why not me?
- Liz got suspended from work and befriended the Real Housewives-wannabes in her building, wgere she discovered the truth about all people who don’t go to offices: they’re in Fight Club.
- TGS star Jenna Maroney learned everything she knows at the at Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks.
- Tracy Jordan’s entourage consists of Grizz and Dot Com, the contemplative and largely understood yins to Tracy’s yang.
- Tracy’s wife Angie gave us Queen of Jordan, which gave us D’fwan, throwing wine, and Angie’s greatest contribution to culture, her pronunciation of ham.
30 Rock was not for everyone. It created a strange world of lovable weirdos, many of whom were perfectly content in the lives they had created for themselves. In the end, that may be the greatest lesson and gift of 30 Rock. Life is short and happiness is probably right in front of you, if you get out of your own way. And, let’s face it, for seven seasons, Liz Lemon often excelled at getting in her own way, even when things would start to work out for her.
Like a lot of other people, I’ll be watching the finale and toasting the wonderful times we’ve spent together. Farewell 30 Rock friends, for serving up seven seasons of awesomeness, you deserve to high-five a million angels.