I felt like we should acknowledge last night’s final episode of 30 Rock in some way, since we didn’t actually talk about it on our latest podcast and it seems like on our annual TV podcasts we usually tend be a little dismissive of this show. Perhaps it’s been an easy show to take for granted since it’s been really the one comedy series that’s been consistently good over these past few years, even if it never quite reached the emotional highs of a show like Parks & Recreation. But I can’t think of many shows that us here at Mildly Pleased have been loyal fans of for so long, or a show that’s provided us with so many references to slip into our everyday conversations. I mean how could you not love a show that gave the world Janey Jorm-Jomp, Astronaut Mike Dexter, and “I Want To Go To There”?
For these reasons and more, I felt this weird sense of closure after last night’s episode of 30 Rock cut to black, almost like a certain phase of my life had just come to an end or something. I think it has to do with the fact that despite being an avid TV fan, there haven’t been too many series that I’ve gotten into from nearly the beginning and stuck with all the way through. I mean the last big series finale I can remember watching live was the Friends finale, but even that was a show that I mostly became acquainted with through reruns. 30 Rock on the other hand was a show that I watched a few episodes of in its first season, and then as it really started to come into it’s own in season two, I was an unabashed fan. And then I kept with it for the remaining seasons, most of which comprised of my college years, and thus helped me get through that part of my life in the only way I would ever want to, with laughter.
On our recent Series Finales podcast, I think we brought up the fact that a series finale should be able to sum up what made a show so enduring while also (especially in sitcoms) giving the audience a heartfelt farewell. I think 30 Rock‘s finale did a pretty spot on job of both of these, as it reminded us of the vitality of the Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy dynamic, as well as what TGS has meant to this always reliable comedic ensemble. But on top of that it’s just filled with the kind of off-the-wall gags that no show but 30 Rock could ever pull off so well. And it even managed to fit in a few more stabs at network television on its way out, with a scene that includes a list of the No-No’s of creating a hit show, which include “Shows About Shows”, “Justin Bartha”, and “Quality”.
As for 30 Rock as a whole, I think it’ll be remembered as the show that managed to pack as many absurd, wacky-as-hell, and often obscure jokes in to a scene as possible. Whereas a lot of shows in these last few years have used the single camera format as a way of making the half-hour comedy more respectable, 30 Rock in a lot of ways tried to do the opposite, by making itself one of the silliest but also one of the undeniably funniest shows on television. I don’t know if 30 Rock was ever quite a landmark show, but it was certainly one that provided you with characters that no matter how quirky or self-centered they occasionally seemed, could always provide you with a laugh as well as some weirdly profound riff on what makes this crazy mixed-up world tick.