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30 Rock Reconsidered

I got an unusually large number of comments on my 30 Rock post a couple weeks ago, so I thought I should respond.

First of all, I grant that me watching a Hollywood show is like a geologist watching The Core. I just can’t help noticing all the details they get wrong.

Eric said:

I think you’re reading too much into Cerie because you’re an assistant, too.

I might be taking it personally, it’s true. On the other hand, I do fancy myself a writer, and I like to think I know how writers think. This mockery of assistants isn’t an accident.

johnd said:

Not only is Ken the ONLY seriously nice person on the show and gets mad props in the “assistant” role, but the show takes digs at EVERY other profession, most often in gruesomely hilarious ways.

That’s actually my point. Executives are meddlesome, actors are clueless, producers are frantic. 30 Rock mocks of all of these guys by exaggerating the reality. No executive is really as obnoxious as Jack, and writers aren’t always that socially inept. (Some actors are as clueless as Tracy, though.)

Which is fine, and apparently funny (to some people). But if you reverse-engineer this caricaturing process, you’ll find that “assistants are idiots,” which is really what my gripe was about.

Lastly, Rob Long wrote me an e-mail, saying he agrees with me:

Many thanks for your email, and for the link to your blog, which is excellent. I don’t think you’re wrong, either, about that episode of 30 Rock.

Thanks, too, for your kind words. They almost make up for reminding me that there are people too young to remember Cheers…

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3 Responses

  1. I should also add that, regardless, 30 Rock does a pretty bang up job portraying a good comedic spectrum of “assistant types”: the one who’s dedicated to an excessive degree (Kenneth), the one who develops a weird attachment to his boss (Johnathan), and the lazy/underqualified one who has his or her job based on some other merits (Cerie and her looks).

  2. You definitely take it way too personally. One of the primary rules of comedy (i.e. writing for comedy) is knowing how to make fun of yourself. The characters are brilliant and hilarious and the references and oftentimes “not blatantly obvious” comedic moments rival those of a show like Arrested Development. If you can’t see the brilliance in the humor of a show like 30 Rock (a show with low ratings that seems to be surviving on critical acclaim, just like AD) because you’re upset by how a recurring guest star portrays an assistant…

    Also, I’m an assistant. Everyone gets made fun of (and should be). That’s comedy.

  3. I agreed with your viewpoints on 30 rock. I find it staggering how producers act like PAs are the dumbest creatures on earth next to grips. With a college education and a pretty solid street and book knowledge I tend to get offended when they give me the look. I understand that I am an assistant. But I can’t help but get upset when somebody with no education is handed a job by their rich parents and then acts like I’m contaminating their office. I think I may be too hotheaded for this job.

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