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March 25, 2013

Tina Fey's New Movie Tanks


Now that her show is off the air, and not doing NBC any good, I can admit in a post what I've given away in the comments: I thought 30 Rock was seriously good in Season 2 and 3. After that, it coasted on old jokes and the Same Old Thing, though it did manage the great "Reaganing" episode in Season 4 and "TGS Hates Women" in Season 5. Still, a terrific show overall. Most shows don't have two great seasons, after all.

I do think it was hurt partly by ill-will towards Fey for her Palin impression. The ironic thing is, it was, despite its likely intention, actually a show that frequently set up the Conservative Jack Donaghy as the Smart, Wise Hero exposing the Liberal/Feminist Liz Lemon's follies.

That was template for the Jack/Liz interaction that dominated the show-- I can't think offhand of a single "lesson" Liz taught Jack, but I could readily name five or six that Jack taught Liz. By Season 3 liberals were asking about it: How did a show by liberals, for liberals, and of liberals turn into a weekly exercise of the Conservative Jack making the liberal/feminist Liz look ridiculous?

I don't think the liberals behind the show intended it to go this way; I think in Season 1 you can see the original intent of making Jack the clueless rich-guy corporate doofus that you'd imagine liberal writers would make him. But by Season 2 they discovered it was funnier when Jack was right.* And they kept to that formula, despite the weirdness of it, just because it was funnier that way.

Anyway, that said, we have yet to see if Tina Fey can do much in a role that isn't based on the schtick of Tina Fey style silly/smart slapstick comedy. And it seems doubtful she'll actually break out on the big screen -- she seems to be a creature of TV, smaller (but solid) laughs for a smaller audience.

* For some definitions of "right." Jack was mostly right because he was a ruthless cynic and the universe of the show turned out to be ruthlessly cynical. Nevertheless, cynicism aside, he was portrayed as the smartest, wisest, and most in-control guy on the show (despite being slightly insane himself), and more moral than almost anyone else on the show. (Though the crazy inbred hillbilly Kenneth was generally the show's moral paragon, though in a frequently demented sort of way.)

Addition: Another interest facet of the show was that Jack and Liz's relationship was never romantic. It was interesting, because rather than set it up as a Will They or Won't They thing, the show seemed to take the attitude that even if they did drunkenly hook up, it just wouldn't matter, because they're simply not romantically attracted to each other at all. What they were were... friends. Best friends, actually. While they weren't sexually interested in each other, their relationship was deeper than any brief sexual one could be. They were essentially beyond sex. With each other, I mean.

Kind of an interesting thing, a male-female friendship in which sex isn't an issue at all.

I sort of didn't like it when Liz asked in one of the last shows why they'd never gotten into bed together. It seemed wrong. Their relationship seemed deeper than a one-time fling. They nearly made it the entire run without ever addressing the question, but then they broke down and asked about it.

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posted by Ace at 04:24 PM

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