When I think about sitcoms in the 2000s it brings me straight back to high school watching shows like The Office, 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother. One of the shows I’ll never forget is 30 Rock, both due to my emotions at its ending and inevitable laughter at almost every episode. 30 Rock reminded me of our reading on satirical comedy, which may be why it worked so well on television and with connecting to viewers. Peter Steeves discussed how satirical comedy reflects something twisted in our culture, but also succumbs to it in its very nature. For example, SNL making fun of a commercial but then inevitably cutting to a commercial—they are caught up in the exact same system they’re trying to rise above. 30 Rock captures this idea, and it is interesting to think about why and how the show worked so well despite some setbacks.
30 Rock knew its subject matter as it takes place in the world and network (30 Rock building in NYC, NBC network) that they attempt to satirize. When you watch 30 Rock it feels like you are getting an inside look at the hustle and bustle of both a television show and a popular network.
In a sense it broke the fourth wall by making you feel like you know their world and like the characters are talking to you. It does not present itself in mockumentary style (like The Office) yet still subtly connects with viewers throw clever writing, references, and jokes viewers can relate to.
For example, there are many scenes in 30 Rock that satirize product placement on television. In one scene, posted below, the characters obviously promote Snapple. This scene reveals something we all know the media does yet is never mentioned or really thought about.
Interestingly, the show purposefully uses product placements and brand integration, relating to Steeves commentary on how satirical comedy attempts to seem clever by pointing something “twisted” in our culture (product placement), yet inevitable succumbs to such act. For example, the episode titled “Mamma Mia” subliminally promotes the NBC Universal film and features a musical plot towards the end of the episode. In addition, the end of the episode was followed by a commercial advertising the film’s DVD release.
Either way 30 Rock is one of my favorite sitcoms and never fails to make me laugh. The show has been nominated for 103 Emmy awards throughout its time revealing its strong viewership and acclaim throughout its run.
– Ziba Klein