Every once in a while, the hype surrounding 30 Rock overwhelms me, and I decide to give it another chance.
This is always a mistake. I can count on my hand the number of times I laughed at the show (“Did a Korean person die?”). I tend to turn it off after the teaser, when I go five minutes without laughing.
I didn’t even get that far with last night’s episode.
It started with Liz Lemon, a showrunner of a fictional TV series, not realizing that the crew of her show didn’t get the next week off. (Which is, granted, mildly amusing in a meta way, as the writers of the 30 Rock itself must obviously be aware of such occurrences, or they wouldn’t know to make a joke of it.)
Then the show establishes that “the only thing” Liz does for herself all year is go to St. Barts, and she refuses to let anything interfere with this trip. From personal experience, I know this is not true of any television producer, ever.
Worse, setting this up as the character’s central problem for the episode strikes me as a bit of a “Let them eat cake” moment for the writers, squandering the good will of the self-mockery above.
Then Liz’s stupid assistant informs her that her hotel overbooked, and the trip is off. She meant to tell Liz earlier, but forgot to press ‘send’ on the text.
Annnnnnnnnd… I turned it off.
There’s really two kinds of jokes. Well, actually, there are many, many kinds of jokes, but for the purposes of oversimplifying to make a point, I’ll consider two.
First, there are jokes where you take the assumed reality, and do the opposite. This is why the pie-in-the-face gag only works when the sap’s got dignity.
The other joke is to take reality and exaggerate it. Cartoons, and cartoony shows like 30 Rock, do this. Which is how I know the writers think their assistant is a moron.
So, now I have a personal beef with 30 Rock. Producers are helpless without us “over-qualified, over-educated assistants with the unjustified self esteem and the ludicrous salary day-dream.”
And the worst part is, there is an assistant character for the second joke. Why not have an assistant that’s mind-blowingly, unbelieveably awesome? I mean, most comedians seem to think the funniest thing about Obama is that he’s perfect.
Give us assistants some credit, 30 Rock.