Many critics and audiences seem to enjoy NBC's highly acclaimed sitcom, 30 Rock. It seems to be enjoyed well enough in fact that for a few years in a row, it has earned the Emmy for Best Comedy on Television as well as numerous acting awards for the likes of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. However, I have to be honest and say that I don't get it.
When I mean I don't get it, I'm not implying that I don't understand the plots in the series, I'm implying that I don't get what all the hype is about. I have tried to get into the show for a number of seasons and after all this said and done, I feel like I'm trying harder than I should be. Maybe I'm missing something or maybe I'm not, but either way, my interest in this show has pretty much diminished.
30 Rock follows the head writer (Tina Fey) of a live sketch comedy series on NBC called The Girlie Show, aka TGS, and the daily encounters and/or situations she experiences with her fellow co-workers. Among the co-workers are the two main stars of the show: one is her best friend (Jane Krakowski) and the other is a loose cannon (Tracy Morgan), the NBC executive who is also her boss (Alec Baldwin), a Southern NBC page (Jack McBrayer) and many others.
There are a few things that I will give 30 Rock credit for. It is at least not as offensively bad or as seriously overrated as the last couple seasons of Saturday Night Live are. This show at least has a decent joke once in a while. For example, I liked how in one of the episodes, we find out that Jack McBrayer's character is so happy all the time because all he sees is puppets or whatever looks like the Muppets. That's a pretty good joke, but there are only very few jokes in this show overall that have that certain satisfactory quality to them.
The main problem I have with 30 Rock is that it just isn't that funny. Save for a few rare jokes I like, the only reason I laugh at all at this show is because someone else is watching it with me and they have a funny laugh. In other words, I'm hardly ever laughing at this show and I think the blame for that has to go the show's writing. The main writer of the program, Tina Fey, who is also the main lead, was a former writer for Saturday Night Live and it sort of shows.
Personally, when I think of great writing in television comedies, I think of shows like Seinfeld in which the dialogue and situations the show's characters go through sound like it could happen in real life. In other words, I am able to identify with their pitiful problems because they feel and talk like real people who have their own unique yet realistic perspectives on life that they share with each and every one of us. As a result, I am able to walk in their shoes and at least see where they're coming from. But most importantly, I am able to have a good affectionate laugh at what ensues on screen.
To me, there is a huge difference between a show that has that quality of writing and shows like this that consist of sitcom-style dialogue which have no understanding of how normal people talk. It's as if the show's writers were under the heavily mistaken assumption that everybody knows everything about pop culture, all the types of programs on NBC, and New York City. They may have also made the heavy misconception that comedy comes from sitcom-style writing that consists of randomly put together sentences.
Just because other sitcoms have a laugh track (which this show at least doesn't have) and a similar type of writing style, does not mean that it's always funny for people like me. I don't think I know anyone out there in their right mind who would talk similar to the way the characters were written to talk in this show. It just sounds like it would come off as too random, awkward, weird or just plain stupid. It could have been worse though in my mind, it could have been like The Big Bang Theory, though I'll talk about that show when I come around to it.
This show's characters are nothing that special either. They are basically either typical stereotypes that you would normally see in other mediocre programs or characters that do very little to elevate the humor or the plot of a certain episode. Also, if you really think about it, 30 Rock doesn't tap into anything new or really original with its main premise. Movies and TV shows that explore the behind-the-scenes progress of a television program already exist and they're probably more insightful about how television really works than this one.
Sure, there might be a good joke on a few rare occasions watching this show, but compared to the best television comedies out there, I have to again ask: why did this mediocre show deserve to win all the Emmys that it did? Maybe I'll never know, but I won't hold anything against people who believe this show to be worthy of all the praise it gets. All I'm saying in the end is that it's just not for me.