A Farewell to 30 Rock
My sister Alyson and I grew up always knowing we were weird. First of all, my parents decided to spell Aly’s name A-l-y-s-o-n and secondly they raised us on The Simpsons. I was without a doubt Lisa – an over-achiever (GRADE MEEE!) who played a band instrument (her the sax, me the clarinet) with a fear of birds (“Okay, okay calm down, it was just a bird. You don’t control the birds, you will someday… but not today”) who wanted to be cool, but never really got there and always had a crush on whatever alternative, smart, liberal guy rolled into town (Thankfully, I never protested in any trees). From my childhood to my teen years, I saw The Simpsons as a reflection of my own weirdness and my family’s as well. Flawed, often bizarre, but full of heart and conviction. Lisa believed in things (It’s tomato soup, served ice cold!), Marge was a selfless mother (hey, so is mine!), Bart refused to look at the world like everyone else, Homer sometimes had dreams bigger than his grasp, and Maggie was often wiser than ‘em all.
So, last night, after the final episode of 30 Rock aired, my sister and I got to talking about what the end of that show meant. What the universe would feel like without Liz Lemon, a charcter who was a touchstone of our 20s. Before Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham there is Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey. What a perfect send-off it was knowing Kenneth lives forever and never ages, proving there is real justice to the world (And I love it!). It was a finale that hit all the right notes. We realized in our conversation that there are probably lots of teenagers out there who have 30 Rock the way we had The Simpsons. That some kids would go over to a friend’s house where they were allowed to watch “that program.” A show that brought you some relief – that you are not alone in your weirdness, someone gets you. In fact your weirdness is so okay there’s a TV show about it. A TV show conceived by the most important female figure of pop culture in the past decade.
Shows like 30 Rock and The Simpsons can be crude and insane, but mostly smart and reflective of what’s going on in the world. How refreshing it was to see a central character knowingly date jerks and dummies, eat through all of life’s highs and lows and nothings (“I believe all that anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich”), love and hate a career, being stubborn, and being at times painfully self aware (“A tiny little part of me that I hate wants to be a princess.”). What a relief it was to see that the beautiful people do get away with almost everything and end up with people as equally beautiful as themselves – except everything about it is downright abhorrent and you feel better off without it. And even though life can make you want to shout “Blergh!” into the heavens, at least there’s always a Jack Donaghy to your Liz Lemon or a Grizz and Dot Com to your Tracy always looking out for you.
30 Rock was the inner monologue you never knew you were having about your work, love life, friendships, and politics. It was an inside joke between you and everyone else who watched it. We are products of our culture, and I think we’re all better off for having 30 Rock be a part of that. All of it saying, it’s okay to be weird, but it’s also okay to want the same things as everyone else. It doesn’t make you any less of an individual.
Now, go make that see-through dishwasher of your dreams.