Tonight, 30 Rock ends its seven-year run. I'm a fan of the show, but I think it's time to say goodbye to Liz Lemon, Tina Fey's goofy loser star of the show.
Lemon is one of the best characters on TV: she's a hard-working, independent, sloppy person that always flashes to mind when I, say, spill soup down the front of my "professional jacket." Lemon's right in line with what the New York Times said about Fey's influential work this morning, that she's "a pioneer who resists being taken too seriously. She prefers to be revered for her irreverence."
But in recent seasons, it felt to me like Lemon's looks and age became more and more punchlines in the show. Joking about how ugly a woman is gets tired extremely fast. In some episodes, as a viewer it felt like Lemon's character was less an interesting, funny person we could commiserate with and more a foil for everyone else's fat jokes. The constant pokes at Lemon's physique often fell flat, in part because they're such a stretch from how Lemon actually looks. Lemon's a messy woman who is prone to wearing sweatpants, but the show occupied a bizarre reality where staffers agreed that Fey's character was a hideous crone. This was partly a smart commentary on how women in show business are often written off as old and ugly if they're a healthy weight and over 30. But many of the jokes were just easy, unfunny jabs.
For me, at least, the Lemon-needling was always the least funny part of the show. I've got my fingers crossed that Fey will take her excellent writing skills and well-earned prime-time cred to a new character whose looks are less of a punchline. Goodbye and good luck.
Last month, NBC aired 30 Rock's "Future Husband" episode, wherein TGS creator/head writer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) tracks down the man she labeled her spouse-to-be on her iPhone. It was a follow-up to the Valentine's Day-themed "Anna Howard Shaw Day," which found the show's heroine spending the most romantic day of the year at the dentist, haunted by hallucinations of ex-boyfriends as the painkillers took hold. Apparently while doped up, Lemon met a British man named Wesley Snipes (Michael Sheen). When they exchanged phone numbers, both parties were looking to settle. "Future Husband" focuses on them not wanting to acknowledge that society thinks their age and relationship status thinks that they should. For those who'd like to watch the episode in full, go here.
As I was anticipating this blog series at the time of my viewing, imagine my good fortune when I realized that Lemon changed her ringtone from Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" (i.e., Elmer Fudd's "Kill the Wabbit") to Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away."