So “30 Rock” is over. And I’m not sure what to think about it ending.
I guess I’m glad that it went out on such a high note. For me the show really hit it’s stride with season three and then started getting kinda iffy after that. This last season, however, was top notch. The episodes all seemed to play to the characters various strengths and the jokes gave us a last glimpse at each character at their comedic best. Everything seemed to fall into place nicely for the cast as things wrapped up. Liz Lemon got married and adopted two children who are strikingly similar to Tracy and Jenna. TGS was cancelled. Jack left Kabletown and decided to search for fulfillment elsewhere, handing the reins over to Kenneth. Tracy’s father finally came back from buying that pack of cigarettes.
It was gratifying for me to see a show that I’d adored for so long end on such a high note. For it to go out with a bow, instead of languishing in television purgatory until it was no longer funny or valid or relevant and all the characters had overstayed their welcome. Tina Fey and the rest of the people behind the show (I naturally assume it’s Fey calling all the shots, but that could just be how it works in my head) got what they needed out of the show. They said what they needed to say with it, and they let the show end with dignity and class. Of course, for me, the occasion is a bit bittersweet.
When I first started watching “30 Rock,” I was 24 years old and going to college in Pensacola, FL. I was in a relationship with a girl who reminded me very much of Liz Lemon, and I desperately wanted to move to New York. Shortly after I started really getting hooked on the show, which was around the time of the third season, I took my first trip into New York City as an adult. I stayed for 10 days at Central Park Hostel in the Upper West Side. I walked through Rockefeller Center at least once a day, probably because I wanted to feel like I was on the show. I even did the NBC tour, just like I saw on the show, but it was nowhere near as interesting. However, the experience totally changed me. After that, the only place where I wanted to live after college was New York.
Unfortunately, my girlfriend at the time hated the idea. It was one of the many things about our life together that she wasn’t happy with, and very soon after I came back from my trip, we parted ways. It was messy, but I still missed her deeply and even wrote a song for my band called “Tina Fey,” which was a sort of veiled homage to the idea I had of me and my ex living in New York together. For a long time watching “30 Rock” became watching a show about my ex girlfriend.
But at the same time, it was a show about New York. It kept my memory of the city alive and it kept me motivated to one day call myself a New Yorker. That aspect of the show began to overshadow the rest of it. It became my window into the world I was determined to one day live in. Finally, in the summer of 2012, my buddy Paul and I took the plunge and relocated to NYC. I found out that the neighborhood we moved to (Long Island City in Queens) is about a mile away from Silvercup Studios, where “30 Rock” is filmed. I also learned that one of my favorite performers, Donald Glover, was a frequent guest at The Creek and The Cave, mine and Paul’s favorite local comedy club, back when he used to be a writer on the show. It seemed that I had followed the show out here.
And then “30 Rock” ended. It spent one last season dissing conservatives and making fun of Florida (and specifically the panhandle area, where I had lived before moving to NYC), as though it were helping me wave goodbye to all the crap I’d left behind, before packing up and calling it a day. It’s weird to think that part of my life is finally done with. Liz Lemon is no longer the hot brunette with glasses who’s smart and funny and likes Star Wars and overall embodies everything I want out of a girlfriend. She’s a wife and a mother in her 40s. And I’m not the same person, either. I don’t need a television show to take me away from the hellhole I’m in and give me a glimpse of a cooler place on the other end of the country, a place where all the cool things are happening all the time and where everything I want to do is going on without me. I live there now.
It’s weird to grow up with a show. It becomes a personal experience to watch it, and the characters become different funhouse mirror reflections of your personality, or of the people you’re close to. But it’s even weirder when you grow because of a show. “30 Rock” got me to New York. It took my mind off of Florida for a half hour every week, it kept my dream alive, and it let me go once I got here. It sucks that it’s not coming on anymore, but I’m kind of okay with it, because all the things I got out of it are now a permanent fixture in my everyday life. I’m living in that world now. I don’t need the show anymore, I got the real thing.
Well, everything except the hot, funny brunette part. That part I still have to work on.