Reading all these farewells to 30 Rock has made me nostalgic. When any show has been on for many seasons, you’re inevitably a different person at the finale than you were when you watched the pilot, assuming you watched it in real time. I didn’t watch the pilot when it aired but began watching shortly thereafter in the middle of the first season. My first episode was either “The Source Awards” or “The Fighting Irish.” It was the spring of 2007, the days before Hulu and before I took the plunge and got DVR (I un-plunged myself and got rid of DVR 3 years ago BECAUSE of Hulu), and I watched whatever NBC.com had on its Website. I was hooked immediately, and caught up on the first season. The first episode I watched live was the hilarious “Fireworks” episode, the first with Will Arnett as Devon Banks.
I was 24 in the spring of 2007, finishing my MFA and living with my friend in a tiny West Village apartment. I can still see the TV screen in our kitchen light up with those fireworks at the end of the “Fireworks” episode. I can still feel myself laughing hysterically as that snippet of “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” played in the second episode of season two and recall my amazement at the second season’s Amadeus parody in “Succession” as well as my communion with Liz when she exclaimed, “I’m 37, please don’t make me go to Brooklyn!” even though I was in my 20s.
While 30 Rock took a few episodes to find its footing, the first and second seasons pretty much guaranteed laughter in every episode. They also featured a slightly less crazy Jenna and more of a friendship between her and Liz, a tiny change that I greatly miss. My favorite episode of this early period was “Rosemary’s Baby” with Carrie Fischer, which explored what the strong women TV writers of yesteryear really pass down to the women writers of today and also featured one of my friends as an extra in the climactic “Page-Off.”
I can also recall, however, my disappointment when the third season didn’t live up to the brilliance of the first two. In fact, I didn’t think 30 Rock returned to the brilliance of those first two seasons until last year, the sixth season. When the laughs ended and Liz became more of a joke than someone making jokes, I had little faith that the series would ever be as funny as the first two seasons. But then Liz started taking charge again and even found a love interest better suited for her than season one’s Floyd (Jason Sudeikis), the only boyfriend of hers that I ever liked.
That 30 Rock is going out on top makes it hard to say goodbye but it also makes me ready to say goodbye. If it had petered out as The Office is doing, I would have said my goodbyes long ago and the finale would be meaningless to me. Now, it’s an event with everyone reminiscing about their favorite episodes and lines. While its no longer my favorite show as it was in the first two seasons, it will always be, overall, one of the best, and I’m so thankful that it’s been a part of my life for the last six years.