R.I.P. My Tart Queen, Liz Lemon

By Morgana Sidhom

Every teen grows up with a childhood hero. The kids in the ‘70s had the Fonz from “Happy Days.” The ‘80s offspring had Miami Vice leading men, detectives James “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Youth from the early ‘90s had the Kermit and Elmo from Sesame Street, and Hillary Clinton. But those just entering their prime in 2006 held a very different sort of heroine in high esteem. She didn’t have the terrific hair stylings of the Fonz, or the pantsuits of Hillary Clinton, or the brash, rogue attitude of Miami Vice’s detectives. Indeed in the past, her type of character would often be portrayed as the crazed, cat smothering spinster who lives next door and doesn’t say much. However, today her curmudgeon attitude and silly antics have been shoved into the limelight in of one the strangest and funniest sitcoms today. Her relentless, and often frustrated, pursuit of “having it all” is wholly relatable, a quality that resonates throughout the show and lulls you into believing that she is your best friend. Her character is almost indistinguishable from her real life persona. She pioneered the loveable “piece of work” act and succeeded in creating the first ever cool pro obedience show. She’s featured in countless “personal idol” descriptors on social networking sites and has given every world-weary teen hope for the future. Her name is Liz Lemon, and by god, she’s a true teenhood hero.

“30 Rock,” the stage on which Liz Lemon lives out her saga, exhibits all the sure signs of a classic in the making-humor with real depth, societal commentary, and wisdom for the soul. The catchphrases – which number to about 1,001 according to the writers – are not only world class jokes but have become the cornerstones for my own personal mantras. I’ve re-appropriated Liz’s phrase “dance like nobody’s watching” to many life events, in both literal and figurative ways.

With the end of the eight season long series, many believe that, along with their main pastime, they have lost their guiding voice of wisdom.

“Liz Lemon was both my dear Abbey and life coach,” senior Camille Tupper said. “It’s going to be tough riding out the rest of this rollercoaster without my rock.”

“Sometimes I would cry like a baby, because Lemon’s life events were so relatable to mine,” senior Anna Lipman said.

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“As the last episode ended, I felt a sense of severe loss, and a single tear ran down my face,” senior Claire Andersen said.

“I loved that the show not only had morality lessons,” junior Porter McClaen said, “but that they made a point of making them very clear to the audience. By the end of each episode Liz [Lemon] and Jack [Donaghy] would reflect on the episode and outline key moral values, all the while maintaining a steady stream of funny.”

Liz Lemon’s achievements and pratfalls have served as the foundational template for my own endeavors. More often than not, my life decisions have been dictated by Liz Lemon’s own story. She has been the voice of wisdom in almost every pickle, the guiding hand in my own successes and sometimes failures. For instance, I can attribute my hypersensitivity for line etiquette to the countless hours I have spent watching Liz Lemon harangue transgressors who dared to cut her in line to get a hot dog (circa episode 1, season1).

The first time I laid eyes on the strange beauty that is “30 Rock,” I was amazed that such a show could be successful on national television. Its jokes were outlandish and required a perfect blend of smarts and childishness from the audience for them to land. Sometimes the show’s absurdity level reached such heights that I thought the show may get cancelled (episode 2, season 3), or may lose its entire following. There are only a select few shows that can contend with the level of wit and cleverness that the 30 Rock writers were able to achieve. And much like these shows, 30 Rock’s survival past season 1 can be owed to its dutiful cult following that was able to carry it all the way through its final eighth season. Even Tina Fey, who said to a reporter of The Rolling Stone “I thought we were doomed after the pilot,” couldn’t believe the numbers that show amassed. Although 30 Rock was was Emmy-ripe, its popularity to some degree failed to impinge middle America and the South. Indeed, even Kenneth the page. a kooky and lovable character who hails from Georgia, did not succeed in bolstering the dismal numbers in the states such as Georgia and Florida.

Tina Fey speculated in an interview with Rolling Stone that the show’s relative anonymity in the Midwest and the South was due to misconceptions about the show’s political messages. Fey says that some viewers think that 30 Rock is a product of liberal-agenda-pushing UC Berkeley graduates (The Newsroom, anyone?), with its vague criticisms of the political arena. However Fey counters that if anything, the show leans more towards the red, as Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, an NBC executive with a blatant penchant for Republican values, is often more in the right than any other character in the show. Liz Lemon, who represents the liberal face in the show, is often portrayed as being a little less informed, but more morally right. “But the show has more of a pro-obedience agenda than anything else,” Tina Fey jokingly said to Rolling Stone reporter.

Tina Fey’s unique style of comedy – a tasteful blend of the sardonic and the absurd – has managed to make a great many of its audience their own respective brands of comedian. It has taught me to look at the world through the prescription glasses of a middle aged woman who has had her fair share of bad haircuts, and to be a perspicacious observer of the funny that surrounds me in everyday life. Even the bleakest of business conference rooms now represent the butt of thousands of potential jokes.

Even on a show where jokes are king, and social etiquette comes dead last, the most exceptional things about “30 Rock” is its humanity. Even the most tragic “Grey’s Anatomy” episode couldn’t rival the silliest episode in reminding us of why we were put on this crazy blue marble. Every moment is craftfully supercharged with a delicate melange of absurdity and stark reality.Within every ridiculous joke, lies a kernel of truth, either it be a veiled criticism of the way our country treats immigrants, or how blondes and brunettes should give up their time old struggle and just be friends already.

“30 Rock” will forever be in our hearts as the sitcom with the most funny, and the most heart. Rest in peace my tart queen, Liz Lemon.