30 Rock Series Finale: A Review

 

30 Rock - Season 7

Overall, I was impressed with the continuity and narrative closure of the episode.  Everyone, including Liz, gets their “happy ending”: Jack becomes CEO of KableTown (his lifelong goal) only to feel unsatisfied and empty, resign and go out in search of himself; Liz finally finds love and achieves her dream of a family, adopting twins who appropriately remind her of Tracy and Jenna, the infantile, wildly self-absorbed actors she’s spent seven years at TGS caring for; Jenna marries Paul, the androgynous, sex-crazed female impersonator and thus marries herself; and Kenneth, the noble page turned janitor, is finally rewarded for his incorruptible virtue when Jack names him the new president of NBC.

Though the last few episodes felt crammed as if the creators were rushing to tie any and all loose ends (Liz gets married, adopts and consoles Jack after his mother’s death all in three or so episodes!), as an audience it was gratifying to see our characters get the endings they deserved.  The closing of Pete’s narrative arc, for example, was dark but totally hilarious; after seven seasons of existential dread and an inescapable mid-life crisis, Pete fakes his own death and begins a new life in what looks like a South Carolina suburb.  Of course Paula tracks him down and drags him home a year later, but we feel contented knowing Mr. Hornberger gets his freedom, if only for a brief interlude.

Liz & Jenna

30 Rock’s signature metafictional quality made the finale especially poignant: after all, the end of TGS inevitably means the end of 30 Rock.  This masterful reflection of the real in the fictional made for a moving, affecting performance by many of the actors: when Liz tries to one-handedly save the show, doing everything from cutting the budget until all the cast has is a green screen to bringing a disgusting, hilariously misogynistic broseph on board to sponsor, we as an audience recognize the absurdity and hopelessness of her efforts.  “It’s over Liz.  This isn’t TGS anymore,” Jenna tells her.  Ironically, it’s her loony cast, her ragtag team of goof offs and losers, that helps Liz accept the show’s end and move on.  And when Liz cries, we cry, because we know Tina Fey is crying too.

 

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