I wasn’t going to do a Beauty in the Movies this week, what with Thanksgiving and my turkey hangover and all, but I decided I would just keep it light and simple instead. A friend recently told me he watches 30 Rock each night before bed because it makes him happy, so I gave it a try myself and I have to say, laughing before sleeping is a great idea.
If you haven’t had the chance to fall in love with 30 Rock yet, do yourself a favor and watch it streaming on Netflix or borrow the DVDs from someone, because this show is best watched in bulk, 21 minutes is never enough. 30 Rock follows Liz Lemon, head writer of sketch comedy show TGS (The Girlie Show) and her life behind the scenes as she tries to keep things together on and off set. 30 Rock is a character driven comedy, and the more you know about these people the funnier they are, which also means you can watch each episode several times and keep finding new things to laugh at.
In her day-to-day life, lonely lady Liz Lemon must balance her controlling (but needy) boss, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), her self-centered (also needy) friend and star of TGS Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and the other (bigger) star of TGS Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), who also happens to be incredibly needy and mostly insane too. Liz often turns to Kenneth, the morally perfect, endearingly dense NBC page, (Jack McBrayer) to help quell the madness in the studio.
As she tries to please everyone, and stay in the good graces of her lazy apathetic staff of writers, Liz also attempts to have a love life and often finds herself eating dozens of doughnuts alone in her apartment as her biological clock ticks away. Liz has been known to steal baby shoes, hallucinate Oprah, and eat a $54 dollar steak in under three minutes. In many ways Liz Lemon is a modern incarnation of Mary Tyler Moore, a single career-gal in the big city surrounded by crazy characters that constantly keep her on her toes.
30 Rock is pretty darn perfect, the one part that can get a bit trying is the way Tina Fey’s attractiveness is downplayed. It’s kind of like Rachel Leigh Cook in She’s All That, put some glasses on her and viola, she looks like a troll—oh no wait, she just looks like a pretty girl in glasses. Obviously nothing about the show is meant to be taken all that seriously, and Tina Fey has become something of a sex symbol, so I certainly hope there isn’t anyone at home who believes Liz is as unattractive as the show pretends. It does make you wonder what would happen if the character had been played by an actress who wasn’t conventionally attractive, suddenly those jokes would be less funny and more cruel. Calling beautiful women ugly and making jokes about their bodily functions are both SNL trademarks so it’s no surprise that as a former head writer for that show some of those jokes have found their way on to 30 Rock, but unlike SNL this show has a lot more going for it than toilet humor.
Tina Fey recently received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and all you have to do is watch a few episodes of 30 Rock to understand why. The woman has the talent and smarts to write comedy that appeals to everyone, it’s too bad there aren’t more comedians like her. Luckily for us 30 Rock has been renewed for a sixth season, and since the show seems to get better with each episode, that’s definitely something to look forward to.
Alright, now you can go eat your leftovers, and have a great weekend!
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