Dear 30 Rock,
First of all, I would like to thoroughly congratulate you on being renewed for a 6th season. None of us, and by us I include you too, thought that you would make it this far. Though what makes that statement funny is the serious absurdity of it. Of course you would make it this far, because from the get-go you were an absolutely brilliant show with the guts to challenge the expected conventions of television. In fact, what you did was take everything we ever knew about television and turn it right upside down, and we loved it.
I remember as clear as day the first time I had seen your show. I had to babysit that night, and at the end of my shift, instead of going home, was offered to stay for a bit and watch some tivo'ed shows. I remember falling in love with the Weekend Update anchor Tina Fey and was wondering for about two years where she had disappeared off to. Then, imagine my surprise when after starting the first Tivo, I see Alec Baldwin's character talking to this “Mr. Geiss” as he was called stream smoothly from a joke about the Federal Reserve into none other than Ms. Fey herself, in all her glory. What followed was something that I daresay had not made me laugh that hard in quite some time, and needless to say had me intrigued. It was the tail end of the second season, and I didn't know much of the back story, but all I could say was that it was absolutely hilarious, charming. So, when summer vacation hit I blew off whatever summer homework I had and watched the first and second seasons in their entirety. I'm sorry, not watched, thouroughly enjoyed, so much so that by the end of it, I was very much so invested in the characters and world you had created.
I loved it, it took me to a world where I could actually imagine the process behind writing a comedy show. To a place with a remarkebly relatable character such as Liz Lemon, someone real, strong, deep, that I could not only look up to and relish in her successes, her nerdiness, but also enjoy myself when she failed. Then there was also Jack Donaghy, the supposedly perfect though perfectly flawed lovable form of someone with the potential to grow, and watch fail despite himself. I loved these characters, their banter, all of their scenes together, even their snipes at each other. We would laugh at Jack's snipes at Liz's appearance simply because it wasn't true. Which brings me back to my first point: absurdity. We all knew that Liz was a beautiful woman, and jokes about her appearance were cute for about a season and a half, because they just weren't true. Then, again, there's Jack Donaghy, the man your audience has come to love despite his recognizable flaws. What these two characters did for eachother was beyond what any new show could ask for. For one, you had amazing actor chemistry, which seldomly happens. You had two characters, complete and polar opposites of eachother come to need eachother, come to learn from each other, each preparing them for the inevitable change in character that is a simple aspect of STORYTELLING. It was marvelous, leaving even someone like me, who has seen every episode in the first three seasons more than once, laughing hysterically as if it had only recently aired, but still left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. As much as you don't want to admit it, these characters needed each other, and ultimately grew from one another.
As we slowly progressed into season four, and now, season five I fear you have lost sight of what you once had. You took a beautiful thing and crushed it into tiny, unrecognizable pieces. What used to be a largely relatable and likeable character has turned into nothing more than, dare I quote it “A white-whiskered gibbon, placed only on this planet to dance around for [The audience's] amusement”. You took Liz, an amazingly beautiful, deep, and complex character and turned her into what we had all assumed was absolutely absurd in the first two seasons and made it an obscure reality. You have taken one man who had grown immensely from said character and reverted him back to the Jack Donaghy of five years ago. The one who would marry Biaca, the one who sleeps with “a carousel of super-hot women [he] couldn't care less about” only now, you've tried to solidify it by placing him with a hardly convincing character I absolutely dread having to watch on screen and whom I ultimately feel confidence (based on ep 5.01) will end in a tragic divorce.
What we feared was ( and in the end appeared apparently consequentially) that the apparent intelligence ( or, dare I say, lack thereof) of the average viewership in this country has declined spectacularly, to the point where some can't even laugh at a television show without being told to. That the average viewer, so entranced with modern reality shows showcasing and endless stream of us...watching ourselves-watching ourselves- watching ourselves would not be able to comprehend the subtexual hilarity of the show, and thus was where your initial success stemmed from, why you were voted best comedy three years in a row. It was no accident, it was pure brilliance, stemming from (and I may be forced to quote Tina Fey here) people responsible for lines such as “Never go with a hippie to a second location”. May I ask what happened after that?
I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that Jack and Liz are never going to get together. That's fine, life goes on. Tina has said it a million times, and I don't see a vast number of audience members particularly keen on the idea either. What I'm concerned about is the way you approached it. You had a golden dynamic, one that left me more than once with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart before turning in to bed. What could have been dismissed well was instead mocked and then slowly stripped down to something nearly unwatchable. You had instead taken these beautiful characters and stripped them down to essentially perverted versions of what they were, and had the potential to be. Now, I get it, I get why they don't belong together, because these weren't the characters we loved, not the ones we absolutely fell in love with.
If this is a very long, and cleverly played out joke designed to last two seasons (from the beginning of season four) reflecting the bitter irony of real life and how nothing ever seems to work out like it should be, then well done, you've got me. But honestly, deliver the punch line already, because drawing a joke out like that for this long has built up too much tension, and is honestly starting to feel uncomfortable. From what I understand, you have until the end of the next season to wrap things up nicely. I'm asking you please, to clean things up as best as you can. Take this shattered vase and piece it back together as quickly as as best as you can. Of course it will have a few holes in it, but so does life. If you're only planning on ending at season six, then you should no longer be concerned about ratings, you already have a contract until then. When you were struggling for ratings in the first season (defeating Studio 60 On Sunset Strip I might add) you had depth, had brilliance, had the guts to try something new, and the talent to drive that point home. I'm asking you this on behalf of your long-term viewers... The ones that stood with you after the disaster that was the tail end of season four, before the election, before this Palin woman came along and brought this show the fame it deserves...to please...please...please...make the rest of the series what it had been, what it had the potential to be.
(One of) Your biggest fans(s)