Tina Fey has made us belly laugh a good few times in her career, but never more so than in 30 Rock. This is Fey at her finest.
Both written by and starring Tina Fey, this hugely successful sitcom draws inspiration from her time as the first female head writer on Saturday Night Live, and peeks behind the curtain of late night comedy shows. Here we’ve got Liz Lemon as head writer on a fictional comedy sketch show called TGS with Tracy Jordan, which is produced and filmed in NBC’s HQ, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza – get it? Anyway, awkward Liz has got to keep her cast and crew in order – including her best friend and the show’s star Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) – to please her cash hungry boss, Jack Donaghy, played to perfection by Alec Baldwin.
Tina Fey also created the Netflix hit, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Whilst the first season went down like a lead balloon, the subsequent six seasons of Liz Lemon laughs cemented the show as one of the sitcom greats, with enough Emmys and SAG awards to fill your granny’s crockery cupboard. Its mixture of weird, zany comedy with sweet, relevant gags makes it one of the most quotable programmes out there. And with a bunch of dysfunctional side-characters there’s plenty of material to go at, with jokes about life in the city, capitalism, feminism and dating.
With the first season being 15 years old, there are a few jokes which have aged badly, but if you can switch off your 2021 lens then there’s plenty to enjoy here. The writing is brilliant, giving each of its eccentric characters interesting – and hilarious – backstories without making them completely unlikeable. Testament to this is that, unlike most sitcoms which falter after a few seasons, this one actually gets better the more you watch. And with 20 minute episodes, you’ll soon find your way powering through an entire season, getting your teeth stuck into its running gags, celebrity cameos and quick wit humour.
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Although at first sceptical, the critics soon came round to this show, with Mhairi McFarlane of The Guardian calling 30 Rock “the best show on television,” whilst The Telegraph praises its “refreshingly self-aware view.” And The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum is also a huge fan, mourning the show’s ending by saying “There will be other New York shows set in New York…but there won’t be another 30 Rock.”
First shown October 2006. You can watch an episode highlight by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.