I initially didn’t like it because of what I thought was a goofy, conspicuous style of comedy, what I thought were overly-stereotypical characters, (what I thought, because my perceptions changed as I watched) and something about the camera quality that I found nauseating. But my sister really liked it, and I take her opinion on media and things seriously, as we have some tastes in common.
After watching all Seasons of and being thoroughly delighted by The Office, I needed something to watch. When it comes to series, I like to stick to comedy (I have enough problems and most other genres, I have issues with) so I was forced to consider 30 Rock. Slowly, I began to warm up to it (this doesn’t always work, so don’t think I liked it because I had no choice. I tried that approach with Parks and Rec and I loathed it more with each passing second of the season and a half I was able to endure before I gave up) I began to fall in love with the goofy lead character, Liz Lemon. I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened for 90% of the shows’ fans. Young woman who works as an artist, at a good stage in her career in one of the most reputable cities in the world, single, smart, cute, self-deprecating, bad-luck with relationships, somewhat frustrated with life, and most attractive of all, awkward. I came to be able to relate with some of the other characters, such as the business-savvy egomaniac, Jack Donaghy, and with several relationships and scenarios in the work-relationship situations that were presented. I’m an African who has lived all his life in Africa, so if I could relate, how much more could the intended American audience, and to the themes and material they know all too well.
There were different aspects of the show which made it stand out. First is the writing. How ironical but impressive, as the show is about a writer making a show. But it wasn’t just funny- it was very politically-conscious. A lot of the characters, notably Liz Lemon, Tracy Jordan and Jackie D, consistently threw socially-sensitive political punch lines- Liz, about feminism and sexuality, Tracy about racism, and Jack about American politics. Quite often, these topics rotated amongst three of them and other characters. I found myself watching and not just laughing, but also paying attention to the naively-presented, humour-clad issues they hinted on. In a new era of comedy, these are things that can be talked about. I took notes and learned a lot about American culture and modern history at large.
I would like to dwell on and highlight a few things, because I can and I want to. After watching a few seasons, some themes became quite apparent. Being an opinionated and politically-conscious person, they stuck out to me and some straight-out riled me. Here are some of them:
1. Kenneth Parcell and America’s contempt for God
Kenneth the page was a good-natured, amiable, loving, well-behaved farm boy from rural U.S.A. He is a stickler for rules and the type of person that sees the best in people and situations. Unfortunately, he is also at the bottom of the food chain. He is everybody’s errand boy, a naïve dimwit, who is very religious. Expectedly, he is awkward with women. The only thing Kenneth is ardent about is his vocal faith in God. This Faith is clearly of no advantage to him, as though he is very passionate about his job, he is also very unambitious about it and clearly contented to be everybody’s door mat. He doesn’t know how to resolve simple every-day conflicts, consistently torn between his strict principles and real life situations. In one episode, he believes a particular day is going to be the end of the world and his pagan colleagues joyfully taunt him. Who would want to be a Christian if Kenneth Parcell is one? Isn’t his Faith all about following rules, being dumb and not having fun? The ruthless, immoral Jack Donaghies are running the show and getting ahead, so good luck to you, Kenneth-like ones. Believing in God makes you an idiot.
2. Sexual Immorality and America’s ridicule of tradition
The only thing more difficult to keep track of than how many times Tracy is being uncooperative with Liz is Jack’s sexual escapades. Every two episodes, he has a new conquest. Jenna the Hollywood slut, Frank’s dedication to porn and Pete’s sexual dissatisfaction are always fun to watch. Marriage is consistently bashed as an ancient and unnecessary formality. “I need a piece of paper to let me know how I feel?” said Liz, because marriage, like all relationships, is all about feelings. Only two of the characters are married- Pete the producer who is constantly looking for ways to make his chore-of-a-marriage work, and Tracy, whose wife is controlling and paranoid of infidelity. If people are not married, they can sleep with anyone, anytime they like. If they behaved funny and got married, sucks for them. Now they will have to go to strip clubs like Tracy or resign to their fate of sexual starvation like Pete. Remember, satisfaction in life is all about sex. Hedonism is the new religion. Also, Homosexuality. It’s depicted as a new fad people are slowly getting to but eventually will accept, like skinny jeans, or hydraulics that make cars bounce. It’s not a fundamentally-depraved deviation from nature or, for short, sin- sorry, what’s a sin? Who’s anybody to tell anybody what is right or wrong or how to live?
By now, you probably can tell one or two things about me. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my ideologies, especially as I don’t agree with theirs.
In all, it was a great show, something good to watch after dinner. You might just have to endure some of these things I complained about. I recommend it to you, as there are not very many great shows out there, unless you are easily impressed. I actually think that, like The Office, it was ahead of its time. Maybe that’s why I’m still watching and writing about it in 2017, after Tina Fey must have forgotten she ever created or starred in any such thing. That’s another thing about me- I am slow to watching new things. That is in part because of day-to-day constraints that I face as an African living in Africa, or just as an under-paid medical doctor, or because I’m just not very nimble at getting good stuff from the internet and with using IT generally, or because (it’s definitely this one) I’m just slow. But I think being slow is the best way to enjoy stuff.
Now I’m looking for what to watch next. You know what I like. Recommendations?