It’s been a heck of a run, “30 Rock.”
Seven seasons ago, a show first premiered on NBC at a time in which the network was criticized for having two shows about a similar subject on the air. While one turned out to be a flop (remember “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”?), the other turned out to be the little engine that could. Tina Fey’s first major TV gig away from “Saturday Night Live” was nearly canceled after its first season due to low ratings, and it was never much of a warrior in the years that followed. However, the show persevered as an unrelenting spoof on TV culture, and despite whether or not Fey intended for it to happen, it became a breakthrough show for female stars in the modern comedy world.
Would we have “Girls,” “The Mindy Project,” or “New Girl” without “30 Rock”? We don’t quite know. You could say that “Roseanne” was much more of a pioneer for women in sitcoms, but TV had almost regressed back to an age where every hit TV show featured some sort of goofball father, his wife who was far too attractive to be with them, and stories that often beat reinforced stereotypes about gender roles into the ground. Fey was unafraid for Liz Lemon to tell jokes about bodily functions, undergarments, and having overall poor hygiene to the point where it scared men off. In addition to that, she also strayed from the traditional storyline of having the character fulfill some sort of destiny to be romantically linked to the leading man (in this case Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy). She became married later, but on her terms and off of the beaten path.
We don’t know if we will ever see a show so willing to mock not only itself, but both its network and primetime TV in general. Some of the brilliant burns of NBC are still stuck in our head, with a personal favorite being a gag from about three years ago that featured Jack holding up a pie chart showing that 90% of the network’s interest was in propping up “The Biggest Loser.” The reason this show continues to have so much industry acclaim (in particular from the SAG Awards) is because it is a show that really speaks to actors on a deeper level than a “Big Bang Theory” does. As a TV enthusiast, we appreciated jokes about budget cuts, taping schedules, and trying to compare Jon Gosselin to Mel Gibson. We don’t know if audiences twenty years from now will be able to appreciate all of the jokes the same way, but some shows are clearly meant to be enjoyed the most in the now.
So regardless of whether or not the “30 Rock” finale ends exactly the way that we want it to (which probably includes a musical number and Tracy Jordan getting elected to some sort of high office in politics), we will miss it no matter what. We’ll miss the humor, irrelevancy, the topical nature of the writing, and the bravery to “go there” when too many other shows cower in the fetal position. We’ll miss the cast, even if so many of them will move on to other things.
Thank you, “30 Rock.” Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a “Queen of Jordan” marathon that I need to catch up on.
-Editor-in-Chief Matt Carter