Reflecting on “30 Rock”

In 3rd grade, my dad decided that my sisters and I should no longer be allowed to watch TV. In the coming years, we picked up a few shows (Enterprise and House, to be specific) that we watched for exactly that time slot, but turning on the TV just “to see what’s on” ended. During senior year of high school, however, there were maybe a handful of times when I just turned on the TV in the evening to see what was on. Once, I watched a PBS documentary about penguins. Another time, I stumbled across 30 Rock, an apparently new sitcom that instantly hooked me.

Back then, I was pretty negative about pop culture: I thought that all top 40 music lacked any real musical value, and TV shows universally appealed to our worst character traits and didn’t really engage viewers’ minds. It was terribly judgmental, dismissive, and smug of me, but 30 Rock was different: it was smart and funny and focused on a diverse ensemble cast. And Tina Fey was a realistically geeky and cute lead.

I scoured the internet for details about the show, which were surprisingly hard to get back then. Fortunately, I had caught the 8th episode (“The Break-Up”) and wasn’t too far behind, except that there wasn’t anything like hulu back then to help me catch up. I watched week after week, and when the season ended, I waited anxiously for the DVDs, which became the soundtrack of my freshmen year at college.

Now, after 7 total seasons, it’s over, and while I’m not emotionally compromised by the situation, it’s still somewhat sobering to think that there isn’t anymore 30 Rock. I have watched a few TV shows more or less to completion now (Enterprise and Dollhouse), but neither lasted this long, and neither became so important in my life.

It wasn’t rosy all the way along: I thought a few seasons in the middle were somewhat weak, and I worried that the show wasn’t going anywhere. They dropped the focus on the ensemble cast to instead get more in-depth with Liz and Jack, which I didn’t like as much. There were times when the shows seemed to get a little formulaic, too. But over the course of 7 years, there are bound to be rough patches. I have often wondered whether some great TV shows cut short (“Firefly” being the prime example) would have achieved the same cult status had they gone through their whole run: it’s almost a blessing that they were canceled so fans never had to experience the inevitable decline. So maybe 30 Rock wasn’t always its best, but I always laughed, often very hard.

Looking back on the seasons, 7 years was a long time. When I started watching, I didn’t know what college I was going to. Now, I’m looking back on college and am working full-time. It’s hard to say that I really grew up with the characters of 30 Rock, but I have become used to it being around week after week. And because I watched it live almost from the beginning, I do have some sense of pride or ownership or something with it.

You know, I’m not really sure where I wanted to go with this post, so I’ll cap it off with at least one thing I wanted to say. Thanks to 30 Rock and everyone involved with it for creating such a great TV show. I have really enjoyed it for the past few years and will probably watch reruns for years to come.

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