5 Reasons This Should Be the Last Season of 30 Rock

As Season Five comes to an end tonight, so should our favorite comedy itself.

By James Brady Ryan

30 Rock is rounding out its fifth season this year, which is something of a miracle for a show that entered the TV landscape without much promise. (On the business side, that is.) And while the series has been on a hot streak of late, I find myself thinking that perhaps it's time for Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy to leave our prime-time lineups for the seas of syndication. So, keeping in mind my deep love of the show, here are the five reasons I think that tonight's episode should be the last episode of 30 Rock.

1. The characters are growing up.
As much as characters on a zany sitcom like 30 Rock ever do, that is. But there's no denying that the fifth season has allowed Jack, Liz, Tracy, and the rest to make some actual life changes. In earlier seasons, such momentous strides forward were always thwarted or abandoned at the last minute — think of Liz's attempts to adopt, or Jack's ill-fated engagement to Phoebe, the woman with bird bones. But now Jack is in a committed relationship with the mother of his child, Tracy's got his EGOT and his daughter, and Liz... well, Liz is still working through her issues with men, food, children, and work. But it feels like she's getting ever so slightly closer to finding a balance that works for her. And I couldn't be happier. I'm a bit of a sap, but even in a sitcom — unless it's something truly insane and nihilistic like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia — I want to see some growth in my characters. For me, a satisfying end to 30 Rock would close up this chapter of Liz's life as it opens up a new one, and this season seems primed to do just that, if the writers desire it.

2. We might need Tina Fey free in 2012.
I'm just going to say it: if Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, I am going to need Tina Fey to drop everything (including that new baby) and be this country's designated Palin parodist. I don't care if there are other people who pull off an amazing Sarah; I don't want those people. And if Palin actually makes it past the primaries and actually ends up on a ballot? I think Tina Fey's impressions might be the only thing that will keep me out of the deep end of a whiskey bottle.

3. We should be more like the British anyway.
In the U.S., a show tends to go on until it runs out of steam, and often well beyond that. Never mind that the original conceit is long since forgotten, or that half the cast has been replaced. But wouldn't "The Gift" have been a superb ending for Buffy the Vampire Slayer? And what a jewel the first, incredibly tight season of Veronica Mars would be if the series hadn't sputtered out with a tangled second season and a disjointed third.

In the U.K., many shows are created with a specific timeline, whether that's five episodes or five seasons, and when the story is done, the story is done. (Compare the U.K. The Office to its slowly fading U.S. counterpart.) It's painful to let go of a show you love — especially if you feel like the writers and actors have more to give — but marching ever onwards is, to me, the lesser option. To me, "because it doesn't suck yet" is not a reason to continue in and of itself. True, this show was not conceived with a specific length in mind, but if 30 Rock bows out at a solid five seasons, I'll be more than satisfied, and it will leave room for new and hopefully just as enjoyable TV to enter our lives. There's a reason books don't go on forever. And look what happened to The Simpsons.

4. It's good to go out on top.
30 Rock had a rough fourth season. Even at its worst it was still amusing, but sometimes it felt like the writers were on autopilot, rehashing old plot lines and recycling jokes that were brilliant the first time around but didn't push the show forward. The writers almost ruined Kenneth forever, Jenna turned into a true psychotic (and not even a fun one!), and we'll just ignore Julianne Moore's Boston accent. But the fifth season has been great! The Kabletown takeover and Tracy's escape to "Africa" have given 30 Rock the jolt it needed. Even the guest stars have been used to sublime effect, like Matt Damon's dorky and sincere Carol Burnett, and Chloë Grace Moretz's frighteningly cunning Kabletown heiress. The fourth season proved that the writers weren't infallible, and I'd hate to see the show limp to the finish line with a weak sixth. When this show goes, I want people to remember its final moments as gut-busting, whip-smart comedy.

5. These actors and writers have more to give.
Remember when 30 Rock premiered, and Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski had decent but middling careers? And Tina Fey was still seen as something of an underdog, especially when compared to Studio 60's Aaron Sorkin? This show reminded us, or let us know for the first time, just how talented these people are. And yet, many of them have not done a great deal of work outside of the show. Being a regular on a TV series can be a punishing job, full of long hours and hectic schedules; sometimes people just don't have the time to branch out too far. But I want to see these people work, damn it! I want them starring in movies and writing their own shows! I want them to have guest-starring roles pouring out of their ears. This is clearly a group of people who are incredibly smart and funny. I think it's time we got to see what other projects they're hiding under their hats.

Commentarium (26 Comments)

May 05 11 - 12:28am
Tender Umbrella

Always trying to start a controversy James. Why so serious?

May 05 11 - 2:13am

"To me, 'because it doesn't suck yet' is not a reason to continue in and of itself." <--Agreed. Please kill The Office already.

May 05 11 - 3:38am

Completely agreed. You always want to go out in top form. Better to go out like Arrested Development, Clone High, Freaks and Geeks, Pushing Daisies, etc. where you're remembered as an amazing show than dragged on until you become an embarrassing, outdated parody of yourself.

Although there are plenty of cases where the Brits aren't any better, such as the Nth revival of AbFab.

May 05 11 - 5:30am

What are you talking about? Arrested Development, Pushing Daisies, and Freaks and Geeks all got canceled.

May 05 11 - 9:34am

agreed... I think the classic examples here would be seinfeld/sex and the city (before they killed it with the movies)

May 08 11 - 5:05pm

Golden Girls too - Bea Arthur chose to leave the show at its peak. The other three ladies chose to kill its memory with Golden Palace. Ugh.

May 05 11 - 4:54am
Appears To Be

The fact that the characters are growing up is not a reason to close down the show. It actually opens up vast new possibilities. That should be obvious.
As long as so many other comedies are dreadful (I never liked 'The Office" for even a minute), there's certainly no reason to shut down this one.

May 05 11 - 5:00am

I want to go to there!

May 05 11 - 9:52am

I don't actually know that anyone on 30 Rock besides Tina Fey has anything else to give--they're all pretty one-note character actors by now, and it'll be hard to see them as anything other than their established roles. Besides, Alec Baldwin is no longer doing film, so what's he going to fall back on, his HuffPo writing?

May 06 11 - 12:22am

Now *that* would be hilarious.

May 05 11 - 9:55am

I feel like they could change the show on 30 Rock and carry on - I mean, the title's 30 Rock, not TGS; so it's within the realm. Would give the series a massive jolt. I actually thought that's what they were heading towards when the show got out on hiatus this season.

May 05 11 - 10:04am

I've seen this discussion before but I have to say, I really like reason #5. There's a huge wealth of talent on this show. Their writer and comedic acting bench goes deep. I'd like to see what some of these people can do on their own or in different environments. Squeezing every last bit of funny out of 30 Rock might not be the best thing to do.

Every show winds down at some point. It's not a matter of if but when. So if it's not this season or next, it's gonna happen. So maybe this doesn't have to be the last season but there will be one, sooner rather than later. Even Law and Order had to go off the air at some point (still miss you Jerry Orbach!).

I'm actually looking forward to the shenanigans that are bound to happen in whatever season happens to be 30 Rocks last season.

May 05 11 - 10:44am
Robert Paulsen

in my experience, the longer the show goes on, the less likely it is to attract new adherents. Arrested Development is short enough that over a long weekend, you could introduce your friends to it and they could probably return the DVDs to you. Once you hit season 5 of anything, you're not especially likely to play catch up, and of necessity, some of your older fans are going to have to let you go.

May 05 11 - 3:37pm

Do you think that all of the Baldwin brothers have the same size wieners? Sometimes I think that they might but other times I think that they don't.
I'm thinking that it goes (from biggest to smallest) Daniel, Alec, Billy, Stephen.

May 05 11 - 3:53pm

peenbutter is on to something....Nerve should do an expose'

May 05 11 - 6:16pm
Jon Jones

I'm a Californian living in Britain and I couldn't agree with the whole list, but of course #3 in particular. After having watched many excellent British shows with finite narratives that were plotted from the start, I can personally attest to the general superiority of the model. Let's face it: writers get tired of the same old premises and situations. And in my opinion, this open greed (because that's the only motivation I can see for this model of behavior) does not necessarily equate to longer or even short term sales. A show that has compelling characters with powerful and meaningful story arcs can ultimately be such a massive money spinner because of its sheer quality, and at least in America, uniqueness. I'm not saying that long running shows don't have any of these attributes, but there are not enough shows that have a definitive and concise ending. Let's think of it like the "sale" mentality-- anything that's limited-run, "see it now or you'll miss it" sells like hotcakes (if it's good).

May 05 11 - 6:24pm

I think Fey has the writing power to make anything last and still be good.

May 05 11 - 6:45pm

I still look forward to the show to see Tina Fey's humor. 30 Rock is one of the few shows I literally laugh out loud to. The situations have changed but Tina Fey and her writers are still funny therefore still watchable in my opinion.

May 05 11 - 6:58pm

Honestly, I adored the 4th season and feel like 5 has been a complete disaster. I would've been a lot happier if they'd cut the show after 4.

May 06 11 - 10:08am

Agreed. The whole Jack+Avery plot has been terrible. I'm also confused about how Tracy EGOTed all of a sudden — did I miss something?

May 05 11 - 8:36pm
Zang Zow

lol, adios and good riddance is al lthat comes to mind lol.


May 05 11 - 10:42pm

Sorry, can't agree - 'The Gift' would have been a terrible series finale for 'Buffy'. She kills herself to save her sister from having to die, which bookends nicely the insertion of said sister at the beginning of the fifth season, but does nothing to address the series as a whole. 'Chosen' actually bookends not just its own season, but the entire series, much as a good show finale should.

May 06 11 - 2:19am
Sexy Minx

Drop dead James Brady Ryan!
It's the only show on regular TV worth watching.
I hope it stays on forever.

Jul 21 11 - 8:27pm

Umm, are you relaly just giving this info out for nothing?

Mar 21 12 - 9:39pm
Critical of critics

I hate Wannabe critics, the show is still on, people still watch it and laugh. I stopped watching the Simpsons as an adolescent, but surely somebody is watching and keeping it going, it updates for each new generation to stay relevant. If you got all you need out of 30 Rock then stop watching and pretend it ended. I'll keep watching because even at its worst, it's still miles ahead of the other crap out there. Nobody likes a TV critic.