A eulogy for 30 Rock

Anna Rae Stern

Contributing Writer

January 31 marks the end of an era—30 Rock is concluding its seven-year run on NBC. Its years were filled with laughter, joy, tears and just plain absurdity.

For those who have not seen 30 Rock before, here is a crash course:

30 Rock is the brainchild of the brilliant Tina Fey. Fey, who was a writer and cast member on Saturday Night Live (SNL) from 1997 to 2005, is well known for her 2008 appearance on SNL as Sarah Palin.

30 Rock premiered October 11, 2006 to a very small audience and went on to become one of television’s most celebrated shows. Nobody, not even Fey herself, thought that the show could make it for several reasons. The episodes are eccentric, and the cast is a mix of actors from many different genres of entertainment: stand up comedy, movies, and television. It is also in the shadow of an upcoming high profile show called Studio 60, written by Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing. The conflict between 30 Rock and Studio 60 is that their general premises are similar- both explore what happens behind the scenes of a sketch-comedy show. However,30 Rock beat the odds and Studio 60 wasn’t renewed for another season. What makes 30 Rock unique is the fact that its quirkiness did not hinder the show; it helped it become what it is today.

30 Rock has been recognized for its genius. It is has won ten Emmys, six Golden Globes and just this past Sunday, Fey and Alec Baldwin won two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards (SAG) for Best TV Actress and Actor-Comedy, adding to their nine previous SAG Awards.

30 Rock is relevant to our time, reflecting political and pop culture. In the episode “Queen of Jordan,” the structure of 30 Rock was transformed into a Bravo-Real Housewives-esque reality show, complete with table flipping and wine throwing. There was also a politically-themed episode where Tracy Morgan parodies an unlikable candidate who looks exactly like him.

Keith Powell plays Toofer, one of the writers for TGS, (the fictional sketch show portrayed) on 30 Rock. When asked what makes 30 Rock unique, he immediately said, “the writing. It’s very inventive and there is nothing like it on television. It is groundbreaking.”

Powell also said that the comedic timing is unlike any other in television. There are rapid-fire jokes every minute, which keep the audience on its toes. 30 Rock is one of the few shows where I always miss something no matter how many times I watch an episode. Powell also said that every absurd line is straight from the script. The writers are just that brilliant.

While I am sad to see this show go, I must say that I am glad that NBC didn’t cancel it because of limited viewership. There are too few shows on TV that you actually have you use your brain for. You have to be familiar with the current political scene as well as pop culture to get the jokes. I often watch it with my parents to ask them clarifying questions about the political jokes.

Powell believes that “30 Rock pushed the boundaries of comedy and was thoughtfully scripted television.” He hopes that there will be more shows like it in the future.

Here is a list of episodes, handpicked by the lady herself (Tina Fey if you haven’t caught on) to see before the show ends. Netflix has them all.

After much consideration and research from the professionals, my favorite episodes are:

Season Two: “Rosemary’s Baby”- full of memorable quotes such as, “never go with a hippie to a second location.”

Season Three: “Apollo Apollo” – Keith Powell’s favorite episode that “defined 30 Rock…It was absurd, grounded, human, and sweet natured… it had the Muppets as well as music…” Fun fact: Powell said that during the table read, Tina Fey started to cry of laughter while reading a scene even though she had read it before.

On February 1st, come find me in the 30 Rock baby blue shirt with a box of tissues…this is a breakup that will take me a while to get over.