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Chris Harnick

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Goodbye, '30 Rock': Why The Tina Fey Comedy Was So Special

Posted: 01/30/2013 10:35 am

Six years ago I met Liz Lemon, a woman with brown hair, glasses, a love of sandwiches and a penchant for blazers.

This is our story.

When I was a sophomore in college, I started writing for my student-run newspaper and taking journalism courses. One of the first things I decided to write was the state of women in the then current TV landscape. A professor I spoke with was telling me all sorts of things about "30 Rock's" Liz Lemon and he handed me the first season DVD set.

I had heard of the show, even seen an episode before, but never truly latched on. Soon, that changed. My friend Meag and I sat down and quickly devoured the first season DVD set. Blerg became part of our lexicon. We developed a "30 Rock" friendship that our other floormates didn't quite understand. The humor of Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy, Jenna Maroney and Tracy Jordan is not for everyone -- the ratings for the series have proven that -- but for those who did jump into the wild world of "30 Rock," it was a very special experience. To this day, right up until the last episode, "30 Rock" is something Meag and I discuss and dissect. It helped further cement our friendship, something I'll always be grateful for.

I grew with the show. I went from a college student fan to a professional journalist getting the chance to meet and interview the stars along the way. Of course, they did not disappoint. As a journalist, I've gotten the chance to interview a lot of really awesome people, but the first time I even went to a "30 Rock" press event I felt like I was going to puke.

"30 Rock" was like nothing I had ever seen on TV. From the cast of characters to the absurd, recurring jokes, the show was truly something special and should be treated as such.

When you think of great TV comedies, it's going to be "I Love Lucy," "Seinfeld" and "30 Rock." Mark my words: In 15-20 years, "30 Rock" will be up there with those comedies in retrospectives about shows and creators that changed the landscape of TV. And nothing will ever be like "30 Rock." I'm not saying Tina Fey and the writers and producers of the series won't go on and create more great shows, but the magic that everybody brought to the table at "30 Rock" can't be replicated.

There is one episode that truly stands out as the moment I officially got "30 Rock": "Episode 210." From Liz Lemon's epic drunken meltdown over the apartment she was trying to buy to the closing "Midnight Train to Georgia" musical number, everything was so absurdly perfect. That's the standard the show set and it met it week after week.

In Liz Lemon, Tina Fey created a character that could appeal to pretty much every kind of audience and not just man/woman. Liz was overworked, looking for love, incredibly nerdy, sweet, lazy in some aspects, a lover of food and so much more. She made a sort of misfit into a hero and surrounded her by characters that redefined the word outrageous. Those characters, coupled with the comedy "30 Rock" threw at its viewers on a weekly basis, is why this show will be studied in TV and media courses in colleges.

When I sat down to watch the finale earlier this week, tears instantly filled my eyes. It's tough to say goodbye to friends you've been with for seven years. Yes, I called TV characters my friends because that's what Liz, Jack, Tracy and Jenna have become. It's a testament to what Tina Fey, the writers, producers, actors and everybody else at "30 Rock" created.

Fans of "30 Rock" will appreciate the ending. There are callbacks to things from seasons past right back to the pilot. At one point, Tracy even calls Jenna "my baloney" again. Sorry for the spoiler, but Jenna being "my baloney" to Tracy is one of the finest ongoing jokes on this show and TV in general. That's one of the things that makes this show so special: "30 Rock's" ability and willingness to trust the viewer to be smart enough to catch those nods and jokes. It all started with this, one of the best comedic scenes on TV:

Tracy Jordan: Hi, I'm Tracy Jordan, and I'm bringing the black back to NBC. And I'm proud as a peacork, baby.
Liz Lemon: That's great Tracy, but it's peacock.
Tracy Jordan: What I say?
Liz Lemon: Peacork.
Tracy Jordan: Peacock. Think peaCOCK. Right, Jenna?
Stage Manager: In 3, 2 ...
Tracy Jordan: Hi, I'm Tracy Jordan, and I'm bringing the black back to NBC. And I'm proud as a peaCOCK, baby.
Liz Lemon: OK. That time I think you may have hit it a little bit too hard. Also can you throw Jenna's name in there for me?
Stage Manager: In 3, 2 ...
Tracy Jordan: Hi, I'm Tracy Jordan, and I'm bringing the black back to NBC. Right, Jenna Malvangany?
Liz Lemon: Maroney, rhymes with baloney.
Stage Manager: In 3, 2 ...
Tracy Jordan: Hi, I'm Tracy Jordan, and I'm bringing the black back to NBC. And I'm proud as a peacock. Right, my baloney?
Liz Lemon: Nope.
Stage Manager: In 3, 2 ...
Tracy Jordan: Hi, I'm Tracy Jordan. I'm black NBC. Very proud, like peacocks. Right, Janet?
[end of take]
Tracy Jordan: I think we got it! I think we got it!
Jack: Yep, I think we did.

Though I honestly do not think there will be another show like "30 Rock," I'm OK with that. And as much as I will miss Jenna Maroney -- it's going to be very hard to watch TV on Thursdays knowing I will not see her on camerah -- I do not want to see her in a "Joey"-like spinoff. I'm going to miss the heck out of the characters and this show, but thank you, "30 Rock" for the laughs, the new words in my vocabulary, the tears (usually from laughter) and the friendships.

The "30 Rock" series finale airs on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

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  • "Last Lunch"

    Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Last Lunch"

    Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Grizz Chapman as Grizz, Kevin Brown as Dotcom

  • "Last LuncH"

    Sue Galloway as Sue, Katrina Bowden as Cerie, Judah Friedlander as Frank, Keith Powell as Toofer

  • "Last Lunch"

    Judah Friedlander as Frank, Keith Powell as Toofer

  • "Last Lunch"

    Scott Adsit as Pete, Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

  • "Hogcock!"

    Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Hogcock!"

    Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Last Lunch"

    Sue Galloway as Sue, Katrina Bowden as Cerie, Judah Friedlander as Frank, Keith Powell as Toofer

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, James Marsden as Criss

  • "Hogcock!"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, James Marsden as Criss

  • "Hogcock!"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Hogcock!"

    Ice-T as himself, Richard Belzer as himself, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Hogcock!"

    Ice-T as himself, Richard Belzer as himself, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Hogcock!"

    Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

  • "Last Lunch"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

  • "Last Lunch"

    John Lutz as Lutz, Judah Friedlander as Frank

  • "Last Lunch"

    Katrina Bowden as Cerie, Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Keith Powell as Toofer

  • "Last Lunch"

    Katrina Bowden as Cerie, Judah Friedlander as Frank

  • "Hogcock!"

    Julianne Moore as Nancy, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Julianne Moore as Nancy, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donagy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, Jim Downey as Downey

  • "Hogcock!"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

  • "Hogcock!"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, Jim Downey as Downey

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Dante Hoagland as Terry, Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Marina Bond as Janet

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Dante Hoagland as Terry, Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Marina Bond as Janet, James Marsden as Criss

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, James Marsden as Criss Chross

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, James Marsden as Criss Chross

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Dante Hoagland as Terry and Marina Bond as Janet

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Jack McBrayer as Kenneth

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney.

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon.

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan and Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney.

  • "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World"

    Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney and Tina Fey as Liz Lemon.

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Elaine Stritch as Colleen Donaghy, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Andrea Martin as Bonnie

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell, Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, Steve Whitmire as Kermit

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Elaine Stritch as Colleen Donaghy

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

  • "My Whole Life is Thunder"

    Alec Baldwin as jack Donaghy, Elaine Stritch as Colleen Donaghy

 

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