’30 Rock’ Season 7, Ep. 12 & 13 (Series Finale) Review – Six Sigma Wheel of Happiness Domination

320A kooky show by the name of 30 Rock debuted on NBC on October 11th, 2006. For me, 30 Rock will always be the show that followed me into true adulthood. In 2006 I graduated college, had my first place (which lasted 3 days before my girlfriend—now wife—moved in), and first job out of college. In the subsequent years that 30 Rock was on, the show was background to my wife and I getting engaged, married, moving 7 times to 7 different places, 3 different cities, 3 different states, 2 new jobs, buying a house and (finally) putting down roots in Denver. Trips to Las Vegas, Orlando, Mexico, St. Martin, Anguilla, and Costa Rica were all likely filled with at least one 30 Rock joke or quote. 30 Rock was even one of the inspirational shows that prompted the start of this website in late 2011.

30 Rock is coming to an end, as is Community and The Office. It feels like Thursday night on NBC will fade into almost obscurity (thank you Parks & Recreation for staying!). Yet, like many other critics, series finales tend to bring out the nostalgia in me. I don’t know if it’s because a show that had 138 episodes over the course of seven years was around when I really defined myself and my career. In that time, 30 Rock always maintained what made it unique – a bizarre sense of humor with sharp and witty dialogue that tapped into that weird inner-goof that many of us try to keep private. It’s actually remarkable when you consider that it survived this long on NBC. Yes, it’s been a critical darling since Day One, but the ratings steadily dropped during the later seasons. I’m appreciative that NBC allowed 30 Rock to end itself and take the time to wind down the story of the characters we’ve grown so fond of. But I will miss whistling along to the theme or making up my own words a la Jenna.

Last week’s episode leading to the finale was one of the perfect 30 Rock examples that will be looked back at for its pop culture references, self depreciating humor and digs at the corporate structures of television. It had elements of everything that characterized 30 Rock: absurd Tracy/Jenna moments, Donaghy-isms, Liz Lemon breakdowns, and pop culture sight-gags and themes to round it out. Kenneth as Charlie Bucket just makes sense. Which leads us to the finale…

As if Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place” should be played in the background, things are looking perfect for everyone. Liz is the at-home mom, Jack is CEO, Kenneth is network president…everything is golden, right? Jack is fulfilling his pie chart of excellence—the Six Sigma Wheel of Happiness Domination—and things are looking good, only that it turns out that perfection isn’t suited for Jack. After Jack fulfills his pie chart, he doesn’t actually attain his “upward spiraling” he told Kenneth about. Turns out that he is the business yin to Liz’s business yang. Jack’s eventual breakdown is a Freaky Friday role reversal for his relationship with Liz. While Liz tries to finish the final TGS show to avoid a $30 million dollar bonus for Tracy, Jack is looking for closure after he resigns as CEO.

The writers of these episodes (Ep. 12 – Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock, Ep. 13 – Tina Fey & Tracey Wigfield), really worked hard to give moments, even brief, to each character from the series. They all tended to hit the mark that these characters have established over 7 years—Grizz about his future B&B in San Antonio: “I’m going to be a real fish out of water,” queue the Grizz & Herz show preview; Pete excitedly detailing how he’s faking his death, Lutz and his war for Blimpie’s. Liz gets her moments of goodbye with Tracy (in a nice callback to the pilot ) at a strip club, and Jack fittingly with him on a boat.

Most surprisingly, we never saw the closing moments for Jenna & Liz. While most other tandems had their moments, Jenna & Liz never did. Maybe this is because their characters’ shared scenes practically disappeared in the last two seasons, but considering the history of the show (30 Rock and TGS), it was a bit of a disappointment. Overall, the episode was a happy ending and fitting ending to the series. We got cameos from fan favorites Julianne Moore, Salma Hayek, and Conan; and additional cameos from Ice-T, Richard Belzar, and Nanci Pelosi. We also got our 30 Rock quote and one-off joke staples:”Tan Penis Island was mostly destroyed by Sting’s house fire” and “‘Pornography box.’ ‘You mean computer?'”

It all ended in the perfect way possible—with Jenna belting a tune, but not just any tune—the song, based on a book, based on a movie, based on a book—The Rural Juror. The show had and will continue to have its dedicated fan base, and whatever is next for these talented stars will be fun to watch unfold, but still, it’s finished. Blerg.

Episode highlights:

  • Six Sigma Wheel of Happiness Domination pie pieces: Philanthropy, Sex & Relationships, Hair, Arts & Leisure, Hobbies, Family, Work and Faith
  • Mom chatrooms, DC = darling children
  • “Shut it down”
  • “T as in the drink, R as in the pirate noise…”
  • BLISS = Beautiful Ladies In Short Shorts
  • Clear dishwashers
  • ONE YEAR LATER. *Sniff, tear*
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