30 Rock: I’ll Miss You

posted on 2/28/13

My friends started watching a little-known show called 30 Rock way back in college. Tina Fey, the first female lead writer of Saturday Night Live, created and starred in the show along with Alec Baldwin and other Saturday Night Live friends. I was a bit of a skeptic initially. Saturday Night Live had long lost its luster. The last thing I could remember about Baldwin was his role in Beetlejuice eighteen years earlier. But a friend of mine made the case that if the show’s food and fart jokes didn’t hook me, the current events and political jabs certainly would. She was right—30 Rock combined all of my favorite elements of comedy better than I could imagine. And it was all because of a hilarious woman named Tina Fey.

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For me, the show never served as an introduction to the work of female-led comedy. I had been a longtime fan of shows like Murphy Brown, I Love Lucy, and Roseanne to name a few. But what came new with 30 Rock was the breadth of Fey’s work. Fey didn’t simply create the show (which would have been challenging alone)—she wrote, produced, and starred in every episode. Fey is even credited with contributing to the show’s soundtrack. Lamentably, few women in comedy are considered quintuple threats like Fey.


Lately, the internet machine has been abuzz with criticism, commentary, and opinions on every move Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO’s show Girls, makes. Dunham is a talented young woman, without question. But I can’t help but think she owes some of her success to Fey. Before Fey’s 30 Rock, television didn’t see many shows that were created and operated by women. Now we are starting to see television with women in central roles, both on and off screen.

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Perhaps it is too soon to judge the show as a whole. Its low ratings fail to accurately represent the show’s cult status—google the show and you’ll find a slew of tributes just like this one. People will ultimately have different opinions on whether or not the show successfully maintained its pithy, laugh-out-loud humor for seven seasons. As with everything on television, some episodes were funnier than others. But for me, the show never failed to make me laugh, to brighten a lousy day, or to create a new meme for the internet to share. So with that said, I will miss Liz Lemon’s nerd jokes. I will miss Jenna’s pronunciation of the word “camera.” I will miss Jack’s endless self-obsession. I will miss Lutz’s awkwardness, Toofer’s Harvard education, and every last one of Frank’s hats.


Now that 30 Rock is over, perhaps comedy will remain a boy’s club with few women sitting at the writer’s table but I hope Tina Fey’s work and dedication has inspired young female comedy writers. Let’s look back at some of the best 30 Rock moments.




Liz’s threesome:





Who can forget Liz’s one-night-stand with James Franco and his body pillow, Kimiko? This is one of those sporadic moments where Liz almost makes her best friend, Jenna Maroney, look sane.




Keeping it topical:





Some of the best 30 Rock  moments come when they poke fun at current events and Margaret Cho’s impression of the former leader Kim Jong-il is one of the best. Cho’s impression is exactly how I imagine the former dictator.




Liz’s Dance moves:





Remember when Liz joined the Timeless Torches dance team? I can’t decide if Jack’s sheer embarrassment is better than Liz’s total pride in her new dance team. Deep down, though, I know Jack is proud of every move Liz makes.




Jack’s TV ideas:






30 Rock came up with some great fake TV and one of the best is MILF Island, Jack’s hit-reality tv show. Let’s be honest, we’re not far from MILF Island now, are we? Another one of Jack’s shows, Homonym, is pure genius.




Frank Rossitano:





Frank Rossiatno: the man of hats and glasses. I’m not sure I would recognize him without his hats. Frank doesn’t even need to speak to make a statement while he dons his infamous trucker hat with thick lettering. In one episode Frank’s hat lets us know that he’s a “time travel agent” and in the next he’s a “ninja expert.”

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