30 Rock loses its edge
“Give me strength, oh Oprah.”
The moment I heard those words, I knew it was over. I knew that 30 Rock, which just a few years ago was one of the freshest, most unique and funniest shows on television, would never make me laugh again.
The joke (if you can call it that) I’m referring to was said by Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon in the show’s most recent episode, entitled “TGS Hates Women.” To provide a little context, in the episode, Fey’s character hires a young female comic as a writer for her show to promote feminism. However, it turns out this comedienne is a stereotypical airhead.
As this premise, which is pretty weak in itself, unfolded there were few opportunities for laughter. But when the aforementioned “Oprah” joke came up, it pushed me over the edge.
First, the joke itself is so weak and obvious, it could’ve been written by Kathy Griffin. “Give me strength, oh Oprah;” middle-aged women worship Oprah. Hilarious.
But more importantly, this kind of joke essentially represents the deterioration of this once hilarious, if not brilliant show.
So much of 30 Rock now revolves around cheap, easy stereotypes. From the introduction of Danny, a Canadian actor, who struggled shedding his Canuck accent when saying the word “about,” to Lemon’s repeated failed relationships, the show reeks of obvious jokes and tired characters.
I mean, we get it, she’s a socially awkward 40-year-old. It got old after about a year and a half.
When 30 Rock was in its prime, it played on those stereotypes, rather than reinforcing them. Rather than being unrealistically pathetic, Liz Lemon was a lovable loser character, who couldn’t seem to get things right. Like George on Seinfeld. But now, they’ve taken things to the point where the show is just no longer funny.
It’s impossible to discuss stereotypes in 30 Rock without mentioning the slightly insane movie star Tracy Jordan, portrayed by Tracy Morgan. In many ways, he’s the show’s most stereotypical character, however, in the past he was always good for a laugh or two, even if it was just about how ridiculous his character was.
But now, even Tracy’s “off the wall” antics are predictable and stale and seem to suggest the show’s creative forces, namely Fey, have run out of ideas.
Forgive me for mentioning it again, but even the “Oprah” joke lends itself to the fact that the 30 Rock staff have nothing left. In a season three episode, Lemon meets who she believes to be Oprah on an airplane, and the entire episode revolves around the same, tired “joke:” that she as a middle-aged woman has been blessed by being in the presence of Oprah. Original.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe Fey to be a great comedy writer and a truly funny person. However the premise, characters and jokes of 30 Rock have simply worn themselves out. It’s sad really, because the show deserved all the praise it got for being original and a less obvious, different kind of comedy in its first few seasons.
But I’m afraid the time has come to pull the plug on this once hilarious show. I mean, how long can it survive with Alec Baldwin providing three laughs an episode?