Photo Credit: The Kobal Collection / NBC-TV / Matthews, Mary E
On Thursday, we say goodbye to 30 Rock, the show we loved even more than Tracy Jordan loves cornbread.
For seven seasons, Tina Fey's fast-talking, witty, and shamelessly weird show kept finding new ways to surprise and entertain us. It gave us the comeback of Alec Baldwin, who played Jack Donaghy, the conservative, TV-hating GE executive who was put in charge of NBC. It gave us a new star in Jack McBrayer, whose hilarious wide-eyed character Kenneth the Page elbowed his way into a leading role. It had the best guest stars of any TV comedy, including Julianne Moore, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston and James Franco.
But of course, the real reason to keep watching was always Liz Lemon. Created by writer and producer Fey, based on her own crazy life, Liz was the wise-cracking best friend we'd secretly been wanting. She never dumbed herself down and always spoke her mind. More importantly, she made a place in pop culture for bright, funny, nerdy ladies who march to the beat of their own drummer. (We're looking at you, Lena Dunham and Zooey Deschanel!)
Here are ten other ways that Liz Lemon made the world a better place:
1. She gave us the word "blerg." It's the swear word you can say without swearing! Liz used it to express frustration, shock, awe, or pretty much anything else. Anne Hathaway also used it recently -- when she won a Golden Globe.
2. She made us feel better about our work wardrobes. Even though Tina Fey would pretty much look good in anything, Liz Lemon was never a fashion plate. She wore lots of button-down shirts, sensible shoes, and a few blouses we're pretty sure we've tried on at Banana Republic. In other words: affordable outfits that wouldn't chafe on the subway. Just like the ones in our closet!
3. She proved that nerdy can be sexy. It was a running gag on 30 Rock that Liz Lemon wasn't sexy -- and yet, the role turned Fey into a full-blown sex symbol. The truth of the matter is that Liz Lemon never tried to be sexy; she would rather get married in a Princess Leia dress than a corseted princess gown, and would rather discuss politics with a guy than make flirty small-talk. And that confident geek charisma made her totally crush-worthy.
4. She introduced work-life balance to TV. In the past, most TV comedies that centered around a working woman (from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Murphy Brown to Ally McBeal) had one thing in common: the lead character's personal life was a mess. Though Liz Lemon had her share of dating disasters, she also had relationships with some great guys (invariably played by handsome guest stars like Matt Damon, Jason Sudeikis and James Marsden). Lemon proved that a female character could be successful and have a life, without sacrificing the laughs -- paving the way for characters like Parks & Recreation's Leslie Knope.
5. She told us what it was like to hug Oprah. According to Liz, whose airplane encounter with Oprah Winfrey was an all-time 30 Rock highlight, the TV legend "smells like rose water and warm laundry."
6. She never apologized for loving carbs. In a classic moment from season 2, we saw Liz race to catch her future boyfriend before his plane took off -- but not before first pausing to gobble her favorite take-out sandwich, exclaiming, "I can have it all!" (Incidentally, that sandwich was based on a real one from Fiore's Deli in Hoboken, N.J. Once we get around to actually trying it, we're sure we'll thank Liz for that, too.)
7. She broke the glass ceiling, and survived the scratches. Being the boss has its own set of challenges, especially when you're a woman in charge of a mostly male workplace. That was what Tina Fey actually dealt with during her tenure as head writer on SNL, and she brought some very realistic situations into Liz's life -- like trying to plan for a baby while being distracted by needy employees, or reacting to being called the "c word" by (temporarily) becoming a total pushover. At long last, female bosses and managers had a TV soulmate.
8. She brought live comedy back to primetime. 30 Rock's fictional sketch comedy show, TGS, was supposedly broadcast live before a studio audience. This, in turn, led to the actual live broadcast of two 30 Rock episodes, which had more jokes-per-minute than SNL (and we didn't have to stay up late to watch them).
9. She told us how to make Cheesy Blasters. Liz's favorite snack ("You take a hotdog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza, you got Cheesy Blasters!") inspired lots of adventurous foodies to create their own -- including Duff from Ace of Cakes.
10. She made us want to be a woman who didn't belong on Sex and the City. Remember when we all aspired to be like Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and (occasionally) Samantha? Deep down, we knew that we'd never lead the cocktail-swilling, party-hopping, Manolo-clad life that we saw on HBO, even if we moved to NYC. Fortunately, Liz Lemon showed us a different kind of New York City woman: one who is happy to collapse on her sofa for a Downton Abbey marathon after spending all day at a job she loves. Now that is a dream we can get behind.