"30 Rock," the NBC comedy series known for its absurdist humor and its ambitious, awkward, sandwich-loving protagonist, Liz Lemon, died last night in Manhattan. It was seven seasons old.
Born in 2006, "30 Rock" survived longer than most television critics predicted it would, given its small cult following. But the show's niche appeal also provided its staying power, if not huge Nielsen numbers.
The cause of death was that all good things must come to an end. The show is known for several choice lines including, "I want to go to there," "Shut it down" (or "S that D"), and "We know what art is! It's paintings of horses!" The story was naturally winding down, so rather than resuscitating the plot—bringing back Hazel Wassername, making Criss and Liz divorce, pushing Liz and Jack together—the creators let the show die a peaceful death.
By the end of 2012, each member of the cast of crazies was well on their way to happiness. Jack Donaghy defeated the teenage Kaylie Hooper and took over Kabletown. Liz married Criss in a Princess Leia gown and adopted two children, one black and one white. And Dr. Leo Spaceman was promoted to Surgeon General of the United States.
The finale last night, an hour of kooky storytelling, inside jokes, and a few touching (if cockeyed) moments, stayed true to "30 Rock" form. The mentor relationship between Jack and Liz reached its culmination after one last bump in the road: "You’re just an alcoholic with a great voice!" says Liz.
The show's refusal to pair Jack and Liz together made a platonic relationship the focus of "30 Rock." Yes, Liz's myriad relationships with assorted crazies—well, Floyd was normal—and her relationship with her own success and priorities made "30 Rock" particularly compelling to the female demographic. But the Jack-Liz relationship provided a foundation for all the antics at everyone's favorite, least-watched, live variety show, "TGS." It was a love based on friendship and the exchange of insults and ideas. Liz's loneliness provided a lot of material for "30 Rock," but she was never really alone, and the show illustrated how full one's life could be without a romantic partner.
In lieu of flowers, meatball subs, cupcake sandwiches, and other consumable donations can be made to Liz Lemon. (Or just eat some lemon-y frozen yogurt in honor of the heroine herself.)