As everyone continues to mourn the end of 30 Rock tonight, we wanted to take a look back at some of the show's ballsiest clips. Because 30 Rock may have been just about the most clip-friendly sitcom of our time — it was never a show for political correctness, propriety, or even sanity, and it was almost always hilarious all the way. Herein, seven years' worth of moments that we almost couldn't believe... until we just laughed along.
Jenna on Hardball
Throughout the show's run, Jane Krakowski offered an increasingly loonier take on the vanity of modern celebrities, by way of her increasingly brilliant character, Jenna Maroney. And whenever she and Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan parodied famous people being, well, famous people, they nailed it. Here Jenna goes on Hardball, calls Tucker Carlson hot (yes, really), and declares that she's voting for Osama.
Jack Helps Tracy with Therapy
During the all-around stand-out episode "Rosemary's Baby," featuring a fantastic cameo from Carrie Fisher, Jack helps out Tracy by standing in, during a therapy session, as Tracy's entire family. It's inappropriate, self-aware, and just flat-out funny, and we can't imagine any other show doing it. Wesley Morris at Grantland writes of this scene: "Baldwin surpassed caricature and wound up somewhere deeper."
Product Placement and Terrorism
Liz Lemon's liberalism and Jack Donaghy's conservatism were pilloried too many times to count, but in this clip they skewer New York's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign. (Liz's neighbors were actually practicing for The Amazing Race.) But this moment includes another one of 30 Rock's targets: product placement. At times it was a joke at times they walked the line between making fun of it and actually buying into it — you know, like McFlurry-gate.
Liz Lemon Outs Her Cousin
This episode won a GLAAD award, and in her acceptance speech Tina Fey explained: "Jokes are tricky things and so much of what makes the difference between a joke being offensive and being funny is the context its in and the intention behind it." This episode also includes James Franco and his Japanese sex pillow.
Jenna Maroney and Will Forte as Two Black Swans
Jenna dates a man who dresses up as her and ends up dressing up as Lynn Swann so they can be "two black swans." This is not the first time Jenna has worn blackface. After this episode aired Touré wrote: "This works where so many other attempts at blackface have failed because Fey's not using blackface as a simplistic visual way of turning a white person Black but as a complex tool that makes a multi-layered joke at the character's expense."
Liz Stands Up for Feminism, and Fails
Fey and her team nearly directly addressed Jezebel, Olivia Munn, and the always annoying "women in comedy" question in the episode "TGS Hates Women," but instead of having Liz simply triumph over the woman who chooses to use her sexuality in her comedy, Liz's plan actually backfires and she ends up damaging a woman's life.
Jon Hamm in Blackface
For the live episode in season six, 30 Rock played on old television tropes. There was also Jon Hamm in blackface to demonstrate, as Kenneth the page tells it, how NBC "used to do" sitcoms. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates used this clip to illustrate a post today in which he explains that "I'm really having a hard time thinking of a mainstream show (one that wasn't a 'black show') that better handled race." He added: "I think they did that by not actually handling race or black characters so much as interrogating whiteness."
Liz Lemon Gets Married
There was some handwringing from Tina Fey fans when the show revealed that Liz would get married in 30 Rock's final season, but she got married with aplomb. The wedding episode did all the handwringing for viewers, having Liz wrestle with the same question writers were: Can she have a traditional ending? Yes. Yes, she can. And she can be a princess about it, too.
Bonus: Night Cheese!
It's not particularly edgy, but it's perfect.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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