30 Rock Series Finale Review: One Last Show

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Feb 01, 2013

30 Rock S07E12 & S07E13: "Hogcock!" and Last Lunch

30 Rock is important to me.

It is not series that helped me through a difficult time, though I did gorge on it while I was in the hospital in December; it didn’t help me come to some particular epiphany about my life or offer me guidance in a career path, even if I think I would totally rock an NBC page jacket; and I didn’t meet the love of my life over a shared admiration of the show.

There have been, and continue to be, plenty of shows about television shows or that have television shows as a setting, but starting on Oct. 11, 2006, there was 30 Rock, and it was about television: its past and its present, its shows and its business, all things that I love, and that the series' writers and producers clearly loved, too.

But 30 Rock wasn’t slavish in its admiration, and instead opted for satire, parody, and winking homage, whether it was needling NBC’s corporate ownership through GE by way of the Sheinhardt Wig Company or demystifying TV “golden age” with a character like Tim Conway’s racist and homophobic Bucky Bright or creating a delightful fictional history of broadcast television in “Live from Studio 6H” or driving the never-ending train of horrible made-up NBC programs like MILF Island, Homonym, and the Will Ferrell-starring Bitch Hunter.

30 Rock thought and felt about TV the same way that I, and many people I knew and still know, think and feel about TV: with love and irreverence, respect, and an arched, knowing eyebrow.

And so the finale of this series has filled me with both dread and happiness. Dread, well, for the obvious reasons, because it’s a show that I’ve watched, loved, quoted (“blerg” is a permanent part of my vocabulary, among many, many, many, other words from the series), and discussed with others for seven years. But the happiness comes from the fact that the show, despite its ratings, stayed on the air (likely due to media ownership, Emmys, and fear of Lorne Michaels) and ended on its own terms.

Those terms were pretty good. “Hogcock!” and “Last Lunch” weren’t 30 Rock’s funniest episodes, but as has always been the case with the series, there were plenty of stellar little bits, including Liz seeing the on-screen ad for Grizz and Herz, Tanned Penis Island (mostly destroyed due to Sting’s housefire), Kenneth’s list of of TV no-no words*, and the very spot-on recreation of the mom forums, reflective of the web in general more than anything.

* Conflict, Urban, Woman, Divorce, Shows About Shows, Writer, Justin Bartha, Dramedy, New York, Politics, High Concept, Complex, Niche, Quality, Edgy, Blog, Immortal Character, Foreign

If there was one new bit that somehow slayed me (and we’ll get to the old bits in a moment), it was Lutz’s insistence on ordering Blimpie. Yes, it gave Lutz his final victory over a room of people who have abused him and maligned him for years (except for that one day they thought he had a car), but it also put a bow on the gift of 30 Rock’s consistent needling of product placement. Subway, given its presence on other NBC shows like Chuck and Community, would’ve been the obvious choice, but instead we got a sort of anti-product integration plot where no one but the show’s most hated in-universe character wanted it.

But the finale also paid off on and called back to lots of running gags, including Pete’s unhappiness with his life (and he still couldn’t even fake his death properly!), the return of The Rural Juror (I’m convinced that the Mean Girls musical is just a feint and that Tina Fey is really going to do a Rural Juror musical), and Kenneth’s seeming agelessness with that St. Elsewhere-in-the-future gag as a descendant of Liz Lemon pitched 30 Rock to NBC. It was one last little meta joke for a show that thrived on meta jokes.

What I liked most about the finale, though, was the question of whether or not Liz and Jack could really have it all. That drive to have both a job and a family has been at the core of both their lives for all seven seasons. Both have faced ups and downs professionally and personally, and now, faced with getting what they thought they wanted all along—complete business and political domination in Jack’s case and a family in Liz’s case—they realized that the other components are just as important, and that they needed all of it to be happy.

But of course they could have it all, and I love that in this regard—together with the fact that Kenneth was still in charge of NBC who knows how many years later (and that NBC still existed!)—30 Rock’s jokey cynical shell broke apart and exposed its gooey center one last time.

Lemon out.

What'd you think of the finale, and what has 30 Rock meant to you?

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  • numberonecubsfa Mar 05, 2013

    That was a very touching and funny finale. Great way to cap off the show.

  • DavidJackson8 Feb 07, 2013

    I finally got around to watching this finale. I was a bit surprised when I found my eyes a little watery near the end. Like JT_Kirk below, I've watched every episode of the show since it started airing, but I never found myself loving it. It had many funny or clever moments, but rarely did I watch an episode and think it was great. However, there are only a handful of sitcoms during this past decade that I'd say I definitely liked more, and 30 Rock was always good for a laugh or two, so I'll certainly miss it. As for the finale itself, I liked almost all of it -- even the slightly unfitting sincerity and sappiness -- but the Lutz-Blimpies story didn't do anything for me.

  • BrookeDsBaby Feb 03, 2013

    It wasn't a perfect finale but I liked it. A great way to send off the characters.

  • AnaPeradenic Feb 03, 2013

    gonna miss the show. tina fey is awesome. hope she comes up with something new, and I'm sure great as well, soon.

  • Edie70 Feb 02, 2013

    The last show ever really surprised me. My eyes got somewhat misty during the last minutes. Bravo, 30 Rock. It was the right time to end, but I am truly going to miss you.

  • JeremyTaylor1 Feb 02, 2013

    Liz answering her phone: "You got Lemon. Make some lemonaide." Classic.

    And Jack's accent ending three-way was hysterical.

    Perhaps the best thing about it was they way even the most incidental of the cast got at least one last character moment.

  • GoKuVeGeTaGoHaN Feb 02, 2013

    Loved the 30 Rock finale. My 2 favorite bits wereKenneth's immortality and Liz revealing Mad Men's finale (which it wouldn't be that farfetched IMO) LOL! I'll really miss this show! I'll definitely follow the cast on all of their future endeavors! And on a sweeter note the end of 30 Rock means the return of Community next Thursday so there's that!.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 01, 2013

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Noel. I've always wanted to love 30 Rock as much as you do, I've watched it faithfully through its entire run but it's always let me down a little, and this finale put a pin on that. The issue for me with the show is that it has kernels of good ideas, stuff like that mom's forum, but those kernels are surrounded by soft, lazy comedy that feels like someone writing the show is afraid to say "no" to their staff, like children who are told everything they do is brilliant so they just expect that everything they attempt will be a success without any honing or real work.

    My one real complaint is the changes that Jack went through, they didn't feel authentic, they felt like gimmick meant to drive a series finale, which obviously it was, but that's such a tired thing and it ends up leaving a beloved character without an honest finishing story arc. They did a silly montage of "Jack awesomeness" but even that felt phoned in.

    I also suppose having this be 2 parts made it very disjointed, Liz really didn't feel like her story of having a family didn't feel connected in the second episode, but that's how it goes I guess, it was a drag on the show but it wasn't nosedive, much like this whole finale.

  • noelrk Staff Feb 01, 2013

    You seemed to have the same challenges that ben45tpy had below, so I'll refer to my reply there.

    I do agree about the disjointed nature of the episodes. It's not nearly as unified as it should have been, and I hated that Criss just up and disappeared in the second half.

    Unless it was just absolutely horrible, which it wasn't -- it was just fine, I wanted more to celebrate the show than anything, hence the very positive vibe. BUT I also did want a more critical engagement about it in the comments (knowing there'd be a few!), so I was glad you, and others, stopped by to leave a comment. (That being said, anyone who hated the episode is a Double Hitler. (Not really.))

  • JT_Kirk Feb 02, 2013

    I actually don't think this was the weakest episode(s) of the season, I'd place it on par for the latter half of the series really: some stuff worked and some stuff didn't, not a lot of punch either way. It's just that for a series finale, the stuff that didn't work was a little bigger, a little more foundational which undermined the Jack character considerably and he could have been so much more.

    For me, there's a large gulf between good and horrible where middling and mediocrity exist; it sounds like with 30 Rock, for you there's merely a thin line between good and horrible, and that is something I don't really understand. This episode tried to straddle between regular episode writing and finale-style deconstruction, but when I look back at earlier season stuff it definitely doesn't have the teeth in deconstruction that it should.


  • JT_Kirk Feb 01, 2013

    My apologies for almost every paragraph in that post being run-on sentences.

  • noelrk Staff Feb 01, 2013

    S'all good. Most of my reviews are just Joycean impressions until Jen gets them and gives them structure. (This may only be half true.)

  • layton2012 Feb 01, 2013

    I loved the finale, the Tv no-no words were great, and I loved the return of the Rural Juror(Rurrerrr Jerrurrr). I will certainly mis Liz lemon and the gang, but at least Community returns next week.

  • neo112233 Feb 01, 2013

    This episode was not like the show at all. 30 rock was like Seinfeld in that there was never any true emotion in it and thats why it was good. This finale changed that all of a sudden, even Tracy had a serious moment. They completely changed Jack, who should have gone out on top like a boss the way he was in every season till this one. Yes people grew to like the characters over time but still the show never had a storyline anyone really cared about it was all for jokes, they should have went out in a ridiculous bang the way a normal episode is.

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