r.i.p. only baseball matters?
20 years

30 rock season premiere

Trying to figure out why I like this show. There are apparently some good new sitcoms this season, and I didn’t bother to watch a single one. I just knew that even the ones I liked wouldn’t stay on my must-watch list. It’s not a reflection on the shows, but on me … whatever convinces me to watch a show week after week, sitcoms don’t usually have it, and I’ve given up trying, for the most part.

But there are sitcoms I like. Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office … ok, I’m running out of examples. Robin says the common thread in the comedies I like is that they make the viewer squirm with embarrassment over the socially-inappropriate actions of the characters. I don’t know if that’s true, although it explains why Ricky Gervais would still get my attention, and why I still think The Comeback was vastly underrated.

And then there’s 30 Rock. Liz Lemon makes me squirm, although its more because I go “yeah, I’ve been there” than “wow, is she awful.” I have a feeling there are other shows out there that share 30 Rock’s best qualities, but I haven’t seen them.

James Poniewozik did a good job of describing the show’s appeal (and limitations, according to Poniewozik):

Pretty early on in its run, 30 Rock decided that it was going to be a show mainly about the jokes and not character development. … There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it's limiting. It means that any given 30 Rock is going to be full of really funny moments and one-liners. But it means that episodes will only occasionally be greater than the sum of their jokes … I laughed a lot at the two episodes of 30 Rock I saw, and I'm betting you will too. The rest depends on whether the jokes to add up to something more for you, or if you even want them to.

It’s odd … I think in most cases, I underrate comedies because I don’t take them seriously, if that makes sense, but with 30 Rock, I am one of those people who doesn’t care if the jokes add up to something more. I demand a lot from serial television in the 21st century, but I cut 30 Rock slack because it makes me laugh. I think it’s one of the best shows around, and I make no demands.

I love 30 Rock because of the bang-bang pace of the jokes. I love it because there is nothing it won’t do for a laugh, even at the expense of “character development.” I love it because so many of the jokes are off-the-wall (those are usually Tracy’s jokes). I love it because of what some might call its “elitism” … they don’t pause, before or after, to make sure you “get the joke,” many of the jokes are so in-jokish that no one gets them but Tina Fey, they assume their audience is smart enough or at least pop-culture-savvy enough to keep up. (30 Rock is what the Firesign Theater would have been if they hadn’t read Joyce.) I’m sure somebody is writing their master’s thesis on “Is This Feminism?: The Meaning of Liz Lemon” as we speak (and I don’t mean that as a pejorative, I wrote my honors thesis on Elvis and my dissertation on detective novels), and I’m sure it’s right on target, and I don’t care. I am capable of going on ad nauseum about The Wire or Mad Men, but really, all I have to say about 30 Rock is that I think it’s funny.



YES! 30 Rock =Firesign Theater for the masses! I agree. It is extremely funny.

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