Goodbye, Liz Lemon and 30 Rock

Tonight, 30 Rock ends its seven-year run. I’m a fan of the show, but I think it’s time to say goodbye to Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s goofy loser star of the show. 

Lemon is one of the best characters on TV: she’s a hard-working, independent, sloppy person that always flashes to mind when I, say, spill soup down the front of my “professional jacket.” Lemon’s right in line with what the New York Times said about Fey’s influential work this morning, that she’s “a pioneer who resists being taken too seriously. She prefers to be revered for her irreverence.”

But in recent seasons, it felt to me like Lemon’s looks and age became more and more punchlines in the show. Joking about how ugly a woman is gets tired extremely fast. In some episodes, as a viewer it felt like Lemon’s character was less an interesting, funny person we could commiserate with and more a foil for everyone else’s fat jokes. The constant pokes at Lemon’s physique often fell flat, in part because they’re such a stretch from how Lemon actually looks. Lemon’s a messy woman who is prone to wearing sweatpants, but the show occupied a bizarre reality where staffers agreed that Fey’s character was a hideous crone. This was partly a smart commentary on how women in show business are often written off as old and ugly if they’re a healthy weight and over 30. But many of the jokes were just easy, unfunny jabs.

For me, at least, the Lemon-needling was always the least funny part of the show. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Fey will take her excellent writing skills and well-earned prime-time cred to a new character whose looks are less of a punchline. Goodbye and good luck.

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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4 Comments Have Been Posted


Everyone's looks were joked about, from Kenneth, to Jenna, to Lutz, to Tracy, to Pete, to Jack. The negativity was equal opportunity and specific to each character. You are right about one thing, it IS time to say goodbye to Liz Lemon...because the show is ending.

fat jokes

oh, really? Tracy actually got a lot fatter over the course of the show, but I don't remember any Tracy fat jokes, so I don't think it is true to say that "everyone's" appearance was ridiculed. Of course it goes without saying that being fat basically invalidates a woman in terms of being taken seriously.

Is "fat" the only negative

Is "fat" the only negative and invalidating thing that can be said about someone? How about crazy, stupid, poor, desperate, old, illiterate, vain, pathetic, gross, inbred, or bumpkin? All of these insults and more have been lobbed at various 30 Rock characters and we're upset that a pretty white woman (mind you, the boss of almost everyone) is portrayed, not obese, but merely a piggy slob? I can't think of any Tracy fat jokes, but I know that Lutz was the victim of plenty, and Pete, the victim of many bald addition to other assaults on his manhood.

I agree with Anne Nonni

It's unfair to ignore everything that was said about every other cast member just because it wasn't a fat joke. Even Jack Donaghy is portrayed as pretentious and out-of-touch which I would consider just as much of an insult, despite the fact that no one ever made fun of his looks. But that was what made the show funny, and I never once found myself thinking, "Well, gee, I must be inadequate as a woman because I eat fried cheese for lunch and have hips." Sorry, 30 Rock is great. I'll miss it.

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