Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say“BLAARGH!”
From the very start, NBC’s 30 Rock seemed like a show that even their own network didn’t believe in. Premiering the same year as the Aaron Sorkin/Matthew Perry led Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which was billed “the best new show of the fall”, many viewers wondered if there was room for two shows about late-night television on NBC. Well, 6 seasons and countless Emmy Awards later, underdog 30 Rock is the clear winner of the late night show-within-a-show battle. And it’s no surprise – with strong writing, keen comedic timing, and fantastic casting choices, 30 Rock has been one of the guaranteed laughs on television for the past five years.
And that’s why it’s so disappointing that it sucks now.
What began as a witty show about a strong female lead corralling a cast of offbeat characters into a successful show, despite the suits at the network’s lack of faith, has suddenly lost the spark that made it a weekly event to look forward to. Tina Fey‘s Liz Lemon continues to become more and more farcical, and it’s become painful to watch a character that used to represent an intelligent, clever, and strong lead transform into someone so whiny, unsure, and increasingly unlikable.
But the problem doesn’t lie solely with Liz Lemon. Her supporting cast has lost their touch as well. Tracy Morgan‘s Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski‘s Jenna Maroney, and Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy have all become formulaic in their deliveries. As they continue to churn out lines with the same inflection over and over again, I find myself wondering if the audience is laughing because of the joke, or because it’s become an old habit.
We’re living in what one day may be considered the true Golden Age of television, where quality has reached a peak so high that it often times overshadows cinema. Perhaps this has unfairly raised my expectations for this one-time great show. Or, as one of the early settlers of this Golden Age, perhaps 30 Rock benefited from a lack of competition – falling from grace as shows like Parks & Recreation took over for shows like Kath & Kim.
Whatever the reason, 30 Rock‘s downturn may become the final nail in the coffin for NBC’s Thursday night comedy night - often been referred to as one of the best blocks of television that the American audience doesn’t seem interested in watching. Consistently fighting a losing battle against “simpler” comedies like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, NBC has already begun experimenting with “comedies” along these lines. #LINEFACE.
With The Office clearly coming to the end of their run, Community and Parks & Rec suffering from low ratings, and 30 Rock quickly spiraling into absurdity, I suppose this comedy fan will be forced to turn to the one remaining bastion of prime time comedies: FX.