What I’m Watching – 30 RockPosted: May 13, 2009
I should not like 30 Rock – at all. For one, I could not stand Tina Fey or Tracey Morgan on Saturday Night Live. In fact, I credit Fey’s tenure on Weekend Update as beginning of the end of my teenage love affair with that misbegotten sketch show. I didn’t particularly like Mean Girls and absolutely couldn’t stand that other movie Fey was in – the name escapes me and I loath it too much to look it up.
So yeah. I shouldn’t like 30 Rock, much like love it like I do. But I love it none the less. The question is why?
I think part of the answer is the comedic chemistry between Alec Baldwin and Fey. The two play well of each other – virtually every scene with them is hilarious. Baldwin’s character is pretty well conceived as well. The general idea of Jack – the conservative head of NBC – is funny enough by itself but having Baldwin play a Bush loving neo-con is just brilliant. Add his awkward-cute friendship with Fey’s Liz Lemon on top of that and you have comedy gold.
Another strength of the show is the way Fey and her writers use pop-culture. There are a lot of references and riffs of a lot of different bits and pieces of pop-culture in every episode (this past week’s included Momma Mia and The Sims) and they are big part of the humor of the show. Yet they do not overpower the more character based humor or other aspects of the show. And often these references build on the theme of the episode – the Momma Mia stuff from last week’s episode for example, or the Harry and the Hendersons episode. Unlike other comedies like Family Guy were pop-culture shout outs are the only – and constantly diminishing – source of humor.
Finally, the show makes excellent use of its guest stars. Though at times they seem to come out of nowhere, each one actually has a purpose or sets up a pretty funny joke. For example the Selma Hayck set up a very solid character arc for Jack while John Lithgow’s appearance set up a pretty funny bit about Harry and the Hendersons. Not all guest appearances are created equal – paging Jennifer Aniston – but as a whole they are a fun aspect of the show.
Honestly, there is real way to explain how funny 30 Rock is. It must be seen to be believed.
In sum: 30 Rock is pretty damn awesome – good guest spots, good pop-culture humor, and hilarious chemistry between Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. 30 Rock’s season finale airs on Thursday (tomorrow) – with added 1000% more awesome, courtesy of Alan Alda.