30 Rock poster

30 Rock

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Why it’s worth your time:

With 30 Rock getting the Parks and Rec reunion treatment (original airdate July 16, 8pm), just in time for the launch of  NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, the network is revisiting the magic of this brilliant, hilarious, heartfelt, and often underappreciated show.

30 Rock was always a critical darling…but finding people who actually watched it during its original seven season run was a challenge. Thanks to the rediscovery power of streaming, the show and its wit have gathered more steam over the years, delivering quotable lines and Easter eggs for the pop culture nerd in us all.

The 101

The show follows Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) as she navigates life as head writer on TGS, a sketch show much like SNL. She’s accompanied by shining talent, each of them playing outsized versions of themselves: Alec Baldwin, who plays network executive and mentor to Liz; Jack McBrayer as the most adorable page ever; and Tracy Morgan playing a Tracy Morgan type. You will fall for every character.

30 Rock Cast

The series not only tackles the absurdities of show business, often with a “meta” wink, it serves up social commentary on workplace politics and subtle jabs at the issues of the day. It manages to pull off mile-a-minute wit with a soft underbelly.

Catch-Up Episodes to Watch

Black Tie (Season 1, Episode 12): One of the strangest and most hilarious episodes of television. This is the episode where you realize this show is not like any other. It pushes boundaries, breaks the mold, and dives deep into the satirical. It also proves how multidimensional the characters can be. This is the episode to watch to get into the head space of the show.

Seinfeldvision (Season 2, Episode 1): Comedy nerds especially will worship this episode, but anyone will appreciate the brilliant satire at work here. This episode is cemented 30 Rock’s place in comedy history.

Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld

Believe in the Stars (Season 3, Episode 2):  Oprah is in this one…need I say more?

Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001 (Season 4, Episode 7): The realities of how unfairly female talent can be treated is on full display here. This show about show biz hits home with some sad realities we don’t always see behind the glamour of the television.

Queen of Jordan (Season Five, Episode Seventeen): A brilliant departure from the show’s regular format and send-up of reality television. It’s also incredibly heartfelt and gives new dimension to characters we previously did not give enough thought to.

A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World, Hogcock!, Last Lunch (Season 7, episodes 11, 12, 13):  I am still crying from these episodes. Not just because I am terrible with goodbyes, but because these were so full of special, emotional moments with these incredible characters we became invested with. Seemingly everyone got a fitting ending. Get the tissues ready.

The takeaway:

This show is a classic and an original. Re-watching it, you’ll understand why.

Watch it with:

Pop culture nerds. Regular nerds. And anyone with a witty sense of humor.

Worth noting:

This show recently came under fire for using blackface in several episodes. Those episodes have been removed from streaming platforms.

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